If there is one thing that continually reminds me of the importance of reaching out to families, it’s the e-mail we receive here at FamilyLife. The stories people tell reveal a common thread: People today are hungry to learn how to build a good marriage, and when they learn how to build it according to biblical blueprints, it makes all the difference.
There is a misconception among some people that you don’t need to attend a marriage conference unless your relationship is in trouble. The truth is that most couples who come to a Weekend to Remember® are just looking to make a strong marriage even stronger. Ana Olivarez of Edinburg, Texas, wrote:
My husband and I have been blessed with a wonderful marriage. In fact, we don’t even know what it is to fight or argue. At first I was not interested [in attending the conference] … we really did not want to spend money we didn’t really have on a retreat we did not need. … However, this e-mail and my limited vocabulary cannot express what both my husband and I experienced. All I can say is Wow! As it turns out, this retreat was much more than about failed marriages; it was about God’s gift to mankind … I am not getting paid to advertise here. I just want to share with everyone this wonderful experience.
Tanya Goeins of Kissimmee, Florida, said she and her husband attended a Weekend to Remember conference to celebrate their 18 years of marriage. They had some problems, she said, but everything seemed fine in their relationship. The first night of the conference was an eye-opener, however, as they took a hard look at issues in their marriage:
I cried and was very sad and depressed—I couldn't believe how bad our marriage actually was and started thinking, How did we stay together so long? The next couple of days were hard—very emotional. I found out some things I didn't want to know about my spouse. The honesty was brutal, but necessary. With God's grace I got through the pain, sadnesss, and disappointments and had to face the truth. By the time it was time to check out, I was able to forgive my husband for the past, accept him for the gift of God that he was, and start over. I feel like we have a clean slate and just got married all over again.
And then there was the woman who attended the conference with her ex-husband. We’ve been seeing more stories like this lately:
He and I were married for 15+ years and divorced this past April. Through a lot of work on ourselves with the help of Christ, we are working on our relationship. To be honest we were missing a key element—we had Christ in our lives, but we did not have him as the center of our lives. Now we are learning how to truly love one another. The conference was a great building block in our journey. This was information that we had never been given … this gave us the opportunity to see that everyone struggles with the same things, we were not alone as we thought we were.
As this couple learned, it is never too late to try and restore a relationship if you are willing to humble yourselves completely and allow God to work.
This article originally appeared in the October 26, 2009 issue of Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter.