My experience with marriage conferences is pretty limited. I have probably been to a grand total of maybe two in my life time. I will say that I’ve watched countless marriage conferences via video and most of them have a few things in common. The first and most important aspect of these weekends is that they excel in telling me what I’m doing wrong. For example, there will be a list of things that make a marriage great, that I ultimately suck at. Here is a list of things that I’ve heard over the years:
Plan really creative dates. I’m not saying that this is wrong, I’m just saying that with two kids, a job and outside commitments, it is super stressful to do this week in and week out. I believe in carving out time for regular “date nights” but if you are asking me to be creative all of the time, I’m out!
Communicate correctly. Trust me when I say, I’m a big fan of communication. The way we communicate and how often we communicate is important to a thriving marriage. However, when you go through a list of things that you need to do in order to communicate correctly, it can be exhausting and, in fact, discouraging. You could potentially find yourself second guessing yourself a lot and end up not communicating for fear of doing it wrong.
Pray together every night. Much like the rest of this list, praying with your spouse is a really good thing! However, with the ebb and flow of our daily life (me working full time, my wife working full time and our kids in school and other activities), it is overwhelming to think about making praying with her EVERY night. I know, that sounds very unspiritual and maybe for some like I am not making it a priority, I simply speak the truth here. At the end of the day it sets us up for failure and feeling like a bad Christian for not fitting it in. Judge me if you like. There are weeks where we pray separately more than we pray together.
Secondly, the speaker will give us tools for being a better spouse and then set us loose to do those things. That is not inherently bad, but it assumes that the laundry list of things that you just gave me, if I am responsible, will get done. Normally, when I leave a conference like that, I may be able to take one thing and apply it to our marriage. Just the same, I still feel like a bad husband because there is this list of things that I am not doing and now my awareness, and my spouse’s awareness, of those things is heightened. Again, I’m not saying all of that is bad. You need to know what you should be working on, I am just telling you how I feel sitting in the seats.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I will be asked to do things that make me look really stupid. Okay, maybe some of this is on me. I have a tendency to be awkward in certain situations. For example. At some point in the conference, probably at the end, the speaker will tell me to take my wife’s hand, gaze into her beautiful eyes and repeat some very sincere words…that they wrote for me. For clarification, the words are usually amazing and full of meaning but if I’m being honest, they are a little cringe worthy. Mainly because these are words that I would never say, in the way that the person is telling me to repeat them. My wife and I ultimately laugh at the experience and it sets me up for a lifetime of story telling. “Do you remember the time at the end of the conference when…”
Before I go on, I have to say something, I ultimately I learn a lot from these experiences. I have gained tools for being a better husband as a result of them. Jenn and I have been blessed by just taking time to pause our busy lives and focus on us for awhile. I appreciated all of the time and effort that each of the individuals involved put into preparing a weekend like this. At the same time, I felt exhausted and sometimes discouraged because I am not living up to the ideal picture of “a good Christian husband”.
I am telling you these things because it is ironic that God would then place an opportunity in my lap such as this. It is the “Stronger Together” marriage conference on November 8th and 9th. From the outset, our church made a decision for 2019 to focus on strengthening families and marriages. Through conversations and a TON of meetings, we chose to focus on an experience that would help marriages focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses. We were resolute on creating an experience that isn’t cringe worthy and is actually helpful and not overwhelming.
Here’s the crazy thing, each one of us has personal strengths that we bring to the marriage. Of course those strengths have a dark side and weaknesses but we often choose to focus on the dark side, not realizing that God has gifted each one of us in very unique ways. By seeing the strengths in yourself and your spouse, you’ve started from a place of positive reinforcement. In other words, you are already doing some things right! Check in the box!!!
The key is, how will you use those strengths to have a stronger and more fulfilling marriage? That’s where Allan and Stephanie Kelsey come in. On this weekend, they will do just that. Our hope is that you will take the Strength Finders assessment, which many of you already have, and then come with those results. So we will start with your strengths as individuals and as a couple, and see how God can use those strengths to build a better marriage!
Allan is Executive Strategic Pastor at Gateway Church in Dallas. He is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and co-author of the book “Strengths Based Marriage.” Allan and Stephanie will focus on the unique set of strengths that each spouse brings to the marriage and help them unlock the true potential of their relationship.
I couldn’t be happier that Allan and Stephanie have given us a weekend with them. It will be a blast! There is something else that I am STOKED about. Yes, I said stoked and no I am not from California nor have I ever put my feet on a surfboard, but I digress. The other thing that I couldn’t be happier about is that Spensha Baker will be lending us her talents on Saturday as well.
Spensha was a finalist on television’s “The Voice” and she is a regular worship leader at CIBOLOCREEK. She will be singing a few songs to set the mood for our conference! If you are not excited about that, you should be because Spensha is AMAZING!!! So prepare yourself for a great performance from a very talented person.
So if you need a weekend to devote to your marriage and strengthening an already solid relationship, we want you to join us. If your marriage is struggling and you are looking for some ways to make it better, we want you there! Do your marriage a favor and sign up online as soon as possible, and we will look forward to seeing you there!