Can One Weekend Really Change a Marriage?

We were pretty close to the end if we didn't do something.

by Briana Brunner

Last year, my husband, Mark, and I were not getting along well. We had been in and out of counseling, and it seemed like we were always going over the same problems.

That all began to change in November 2007 when I happened to hear about the Weekend to Remember® marriage conference while listening to a local radio station. I told Mark that we needed to go to it. At first he kind of fought me on it. I told him that we didn’t have a choice and said, “I’m signing us up. We are going.”

Until then, I don’t think Mark had really admitted to himself that we were pretty close to the end if we didn’t do something. I had been through one divorce and didn’t want the kids to have to go through that again.

Things didn’t begin well for our Weekend to Remember. Mark and I had an argument as we drove to the conference, and we really didn’t like each other when stepped into the ballroom. Only God could have turned that evening into a weekend that transformed our marriage, our lives, our family … forever.

A turning point

The conference was an eye-opener for Mark and me as we heard God's purpose and plan for marriage. One phrase that struck us both very powerfully was, “My spouse is not my enemy. My spouse is a gift given to me by God.” I think grasping that truth was a turning point for both of us.

It was neat to see couples who on Friday night were just bodies sitting by one another transform into lovers on Sunday. They sat with their arms entwined around each other and hands clasped. Mark and I were among those couples.

Today we still use a lot of what we learned at the Weekend to Remember. One of the biggest changes is that neither one of us ever mentions the word divorce any more. We made a commitment to never threaten divorce because we love each other—and it’s not even a consideration when things don’t seem so bright.

Remembering that “My mate is not my enemy,” has also been huge for us. If we are in an argument one or the other one will say (depending on who is more upset), “I’m not the enemy, I love you. I’m your spouse.” Those words always remind me that whatever we’re disagreeing about is temporary. It instantly makes me tone it down to a level where Mark and I can calmly talk.

We’re also much better about listening to one another. Now we sit back and let each other finish a sentence instead of instantly getting mad and trying to jump in to defend ourselves or blame the other person. We’ve learned to listen and really try to hear what’s being said and not what we think someone means.

Nine times out of ten our arguments have come from one of us misinterpreting what the other one was trying to say. Sometimes one of us will now say, “Hey, that’s not what I meant.”

Mark and I work together and that can be very trying at times. In the past, when things didn’t go right, we blamed each other. Now, if Mark or I start to point fingers and say something is “your” fault, the other will say what we learned at the Weekend to Remember, “This isn’t about blaming each other. It’s not a you or a me problem. It’s just a conflict that needs to be resolved.” And that’s really helped quite a bit.

The weekend taught us huge things about dealing with conflict in front of the kids. We learned that it’s okay for them to notice that we’re not exactly happy with each other. But today we say, “We need to go talk for a few minutes and when we are all done talking things will be fine, but we just need to talk by ourselves.”

The older kids have noticed a difference in the way we communicate. It’s really funny because if they see things getting a little tense once in a while they say, “Remember what you guys learned [at the Weekend to Remember].”

The most important change

As wonderful as these changes are, the most important thing that happened at the Weekend to Remember was that Mark and I prayed and invited Jesus Christ into our lives. That was really powerful for both of us.

I had heard people in our business talk about finding God and I wondered, What are they talking about? I can’t really explain what happened at the conference spiritually, but it was like an “Aha!” moment, and I finally understood what finding God meant.

Having Christ at the center of our lives and marriage has been huge. When we are having difficulties I will pray, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own. Will you help me to get over this?”

Today Mark is much more open about talking about God with me, our kids, and others. I have seen him say to people, “I’ll pray about this.” I had never seen that side of him before.

When I first heard about the Weekend to Remember and read some of the testimonials about the conference, I wondered how one weekend could really change marriages that were so close to ending. I no longer have to wonder. Mark and I just have to look in the mirror and remember what God did in our lives and legacy.

Copyright ©2008 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

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