A few weeks ago, Shane and I had the opportunity to experience one of the most amazing things.
Over the last few years, we have heard about A Weekend to Remember (WTR). Since hearing about it, we have wanted to go and learn how to improve our communication, how to fight fair, and how to work through the tough situations without either one of us ‘losing’ our stance or beliefs.
This year is the first year in four years that it worked with our schedules to go – so we decided to go!
I’m going to start this by saying, those of you who have heard about it and are thinking of going: stop thinking about it and go. Those of you who haven’t heard about it: I’m going to tell you about it and encourage you to go.
I’ll start off easy by asking you to rate your marriage on a scale of 1-10; one being the only thing left to do is sign the divorce papers and 10 being fantastic!
If you asked me a week ago how I rated my marriage on a scale of 1-10, I would have told you an 8.5. I felt we had good communication, we never fight, we discuss things calmly, we compromise, and we forgive. There are moments of irritation and frustration but there is not a single marriage out there that doesn’t suffer that. However, after attending WTR, looking back on that same question, I would have rated our marriage a 6.5-7.
Because personally, sometimes when I’m frustrated or irritated, I tend to default to responding without taking into consideration the other side of the table. I get selfish. I get short tempered. I’m not consistent. I have moments of ‘jealousy’. I’m messy. I’m forgetful. I’m busy. I’m tired. I’m stubborn.
In order for you to understand exactly what we went through, I need to start at the beginning while not revealing any of the secrets that happen there.
There are so many outside forces that try to work their way in between a husband and wife and drive wedges to try and make the marriage weak, crumble, and fail. Things like the inability to make adjustments to stay as “one flesh” instead of staying two, that the ‘love’ that caused you to get married was based off of performance or looks, being so divided in differences of thoughts/opinions/views, affairs (this can range from adultery, addictions, busy schedules, chasing material items, etc), and our own selfishness when it comes to our spouses ‘weaknesses’, ‘mistakes’, ‘failures’, or unmet unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize that these things exist in our marriages. I didn’t. I didn’t realize that an extramarital affair was even present in our marriage. Now, before you jump to conclusions, hear me out.
Shane and I are yes people. We enjoy helping people, we enjoy supporting people, we enjoy being a part of things that help us learn and grow. However, we quickly realized that weekend that sometimes, yes gets in the way of our marriage. As we were sitting there, I couldn’t remember the last time I had a meaningful conversation with my husband without an infant screaming/crying/tugging on an arm or leg, without teenagers dropping an ear in or jumping in mid conversation with something completely unrelated, without one of us rushing to eat so that we can quickly get out the door, or without being out and about at an activity that we are a part of. It really sunk in that we’ve gotten so busy with everything around us that we were starting to lose us. As much as we enjoy the busy-ness to pass the time, we needed to take a step back, reevaluate, and start saying no.
Communication needs to be key in marriage. But when you start adding all of these other things into it, communicating effectively is HARD. Communication shouldn’t be hard, it should be easy. It should be an avenue towards oneness with your spouse instead of being a driving wedge.
“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”
~Harry S. Truman
Sometimes the wedge in communication can be that we don’t know how to effectively communicate how we are feeling. It’s hard to take off the mask of protection and allow us to be completely transparent. Even though I was at WTR and I heard all this (and took notes on it) I still find it hard to take that mask off. Shane deserves transparency, but I still struggle with even admitting to myself that I have emotions because for so long I wasn’t able to express them in a healthy way.
The end goal in a marriage is oneness; leave and cleave. The level of which you leave is the level that you can cleave. If you are unable to leave your family, outside forces, addictions, etc, you are not able to cleave to your spouse and it leaves space for doubt, insecurities, and loneliness.
Sometimes, these things can lead to conflict. Conflict occurs when we feel that our “rights” have been violated, unmet expectations, or something has hurt us. However, we need to be slow to anger and to take a step back and evaluate where our heart is at. Are we trying to retaliate, restore, punish or pursue peace?
Contrary so semi-popular belief: YOUR SPOUSE IS NOT YOUR ENEMY.
In order to peacefully move forward, there needs to be forgiveness. True, unconditional forgiveness. That is sometimes hard to give because we tend to hold onto things that once hurt us. However, we are told in Ephesians 4:32 that we need to “…forgive one another, and God in Christ forgave you.”
In the end, God wants our marriages (or relationships if you aren’t married) to achieve oneness. Sometimes, this oneness hard to achieve because (in case you haven’t noticed) men and women are different. The way that I see things in our marriage, Shane sees them completely different and sometimes not at all. But these differences are not to be viewed as reasons to not achieve God’s purpose for marriage.
What we need to achieve this level of purpose is to know the true definition of love. Without looking in the dictionary, can you define what love is?
Love: loving an imperfect person for a lifetime.
I like to tease Shane that he’s stuck with me forever. No trading me off for a newer model, can’t bring me in for warranty work when something breaks, and attitude adjustments cost too much. But, it’s not really teasing when we have entered this life sentence together. Shane and I vowed to one another in front of family, friends, and God that we will stay together through it all – no excuses. When we talk about our relationship journey, dating until current, we tell people that we were put through more in our 12-18 months of dating and marriage that most people don’t experience in a lifetime. Our relationship was put through the ringer, through the garbage disposal, through the shredder, but we are still standing with heads held high and hands praising the One who got us through it.
“Heaven will not be filled with people who are scared of Hell. Heaven will be filled with people who walked through Hell to follow Jesus.”
I can’t share everything that was shared at WTR, but I promise you that it is worth every penny. Not only did we walk away with new tools and a new understanding, we were able to have a date night. That’s right. A night to ourselves with no social media, no phone calls, just us.
In addition to a date night, we had a couple of hours to sit and write each other love letters. It was a moment in time where I was able to get back to the root of why I walked down the isle and committed to spend every day walking with him for the rest of my life.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!
Shane and I have been on our faith journey together for a few years now. One thing that has been on our hearts is that we needed to minister. At first, that’s why I started this blog. To share experiences that I went through and how my faith got me through them. But this blog wasn’t enough. I was left wanting more…and so was Shane. We joined as youth leaders within our church’s youth group. While it helps, there is still a feeling of needing more.
That being said, God answers prayers and He answers them abundantly.
I can’t share all the details but there are good things in the works right now that we need your prayers on:
1.) That Shane and I be led in the way of ministry through Family Life Ministries that God sees fit in our lives.
2.) That God will provide us with couples (near or far) who want to pursue Christ that we can disciple to, befriend, support, and encourage on their journey.
3.) That potential opportunities in Shane’s military career reveal themselves and we can see the clear path that he needs to take.
4.) That we may make an impact at an even in January that we have been invited to be part of the leadership of.
God is doing some wonderful things in our lives and at times it’s almost overwhelming. But I need to remember that He is Lord and He has a purpose and a plan for everything that is coming our way.
If you have ways I can pray for you, please leave them in the comments below or send me a message on my personal Facebook page. (SIDENOTE:: I do not respond to friend requests if you are unfamiliar to me)
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men…”
~Colossians 3:23 HCSB