Friday, May 6, 2011

A weekend to remember ... no, really - it was great. 

FamilyLife with Dennis Rainey put on a marriage weekend. 

It's called 

A Weekend to Remember

I really liked it because it reminded Don and I of what our marriage is for. It is so easy to get caught up in the difficulties of this life and forget that God has a bigger plan for marriage then our own comfort and happiness. 

This weekend spoke to Don and I. The briars and thorns of this life had made a mess of our relationship. Cares of this world had become primary and we drifted apart - not in a dangerous sort of way but in a silent indifferent sort of way. He was doing his thing, I was doing mine. I put my attention towards the kids and the church and he had his attention towards work and money. 

I am chuckling a little bit cause mine sounds so holy. 

"Oh me? I am just busy building relationships within the family and serving the body of Christ" 

That really does sound rather righteous. What I think the Lord has been showing me through this weekend is that those "righteous" acts were not His primary task for me. In order to have that healthy family, or to be a healthy contributor to the Body of Christ I was first to get my heart in the proper order. God's plan for marriage. 

I knew about God's order. I have been taught OVER and OVER all about marriage. I have read about a million books on the subject. Yet still, where was my focus? Somewhere else. 

It's amazing the foxes that can come in and create havoc when you are not where God has told you to be. 

The topics of the conference were Why Marriages Fail, Communication, From How to Wow, What Every Marriage Needs, We Fight Too, Marriage After Dark, How Marriages Thrive and Leaving a Legacy. There was also the workbook which you did assignments apart and then together. 

I don't think I could pick out a favorite because they were all good. There were two couples that spoke. Each had their own style and humor. They each made great points. 

During the Why Marriages Fail topic we learned that every marriage is either
 moving toward oneness or drifting toward isolation ... 

Dennis Rainey had this thought ..

Oneness in marriage involves complete 
unity with each other. 
It's more than a mere mingling of two humans- 
it's a tender merger of body, soul and spirit.

Some dangers to that oneness would be contrasting backgrounds, differing expectations, superficial motivations - meaning .. all about me motivations. 

Our cultures plan of marriage is often performance based meaning 
"you do your part then I will do mine - 
If you don't do your part then I am not responsible to do mine" 

Another threat to oneness is giving affection based on merit or when it's "deserved" 

All marriages have inevitable difficulties and how we respond will affect our marriage. 
The difficulties will either drive you apart or bind you together. 

Then there are the extramarital affairs .. oohh, now you are thinking .. no problem here, I don't have any of those but wait ... 

Consider these ... 

activities affair 
materialism affair 
career affair 
family affair 
fantasy affair (can include pornography or romance novels) 
love affair 

When couples escape to extramarital affairs, the result is isolation.

Another threat to marriage is selfishness .. 

Marriage doesn't remove selfishness it reveals it .. 

Our selfish nature focuses on and becomes critical of our spouse's weaknesses,
 mistakes or failures to meet our expectations 
Our disappointments and disapproval of our spouse can lean him or her to feel rejection, discouragement, anger and bitterness, resulting in even lower performance. 
Our selfish nature even seeks to justify our rejection of our spouse.

The conference continued with a lot of different topics but one I want to explain further is the 
What Every Marriage Needs topic. 

I am sure we all know what it is. We need God to be the center of our marriage. How many times have we proven God right ... we are happiest when we live our lives with God as the center. 

God's design for marriage is the two would become one .. complete each other. 

Adam and Eve's oneness with God was the centerpiece of their marriage relationship. 

When Adam and Eve rejected God's plan of oneness it was that rejection which destroyed the oneness between Adam and Eve and God and mankind. 

Sin has separated us from God and from each other. 

When we are living out our faith with the Lord, when we recognize our own sinful limitations and the glorious forgiveness the Lord gives us, then we are able to see the sins and falling short of our spouse and give him/her the same grace and forgiveness that the Lord gives us.

We walk out our marriages with grace and forgiveness which leads to joy and contentment. 
Throwing humor in there is a great add too. Not taking ourselves so seriously. 
Knowing that all couples struggle, we just don't see what goes on behind closed doors. 

We are going to leave a legacy with our marriage. The question is what kind? 

The Lord's plan for us is to leave a timeless legacy one that reflects the love of God. 

Extravagant love ... 

Here are 3 suggestions from Family Life on what extravagant love looks like. 

#1 The habit of extravagant love -
We demonstrate that by being ...
Exclusive - one person has your heart for a lifetime
Expressed - it is repeated often through words and actions.
Extraordinary - it places your spouse's needs above your own. 

#2 The habit of generous forgiveness 
Generous forgiveness begins with humility
Generous forgiveness is offered quickly
Generous forgiveness is applied freely
Generous forgiveness is expressed graciously - it keeps no record of wrongs 

#3 The habit of enthusiastic encouragement 
Enthusiastic encouragement believes in and motivates your spouse to grow. 
Enthusiastic encouragement openly affirms your spouse
Enthusiastic encouragement avoids critical words 
Enthusiastic encouragement maintains a positive attitude, even in hard times. 

Combining all these ingredients leads to a revolutionary relationship ... 

A Godly legacy of love

Don and I left from the conference encouraged and renewed. 
Of course you don't need a conference for that renewal. 
God and His Word, His Holy Spirit and two hearts desiring extravagant love 
will also bring revival. 

But we are so thankful that the Lord has made that conference available for us. We needed the structure and the light hearted humor the speakers brought to some very serious subjects. I believe that the Lord did indeed do a work in our marriage and with His continued strength and enabling ... we just might ... leave a legacy of love. 

Some of the resources Don and I particularly like are

Fight Fair by Tim and Joy Downs

Simply romantic .. 
Tips to romance your wife 
Tips to romance your husband 
by FamilyLife

We bought a game to play .. come on over so we can play it!

We are praying about facilitating a couples bible study with this material. I guess we would have to see if there is any interest. Let us know if you think you might like to participate. 


  1. Thank you for your transparency and sweet thoughts, Mary.

  2. Thank you for the information, Mary. It reminds us that we need to be God-centered and intentional when it comes to our marriages.
    Good picture of you and Don, too!