This past weekend was amazing! I feel like a brand new & better wife after attending my church’s Couples and Marriage “Home Improvement” Conference.
The first night was a perfect date night for my husband and me. We got all dressed up, which I love to do, listened to some great live music, ate some really good food, and got to socialize with other couples in our church. They even had a photobooth, but the line was extremely long so we decided to go outside to capture the moment. On the way out, they provided "date night" favors that consisted of a jar of date night ideas and blanks that we could create ourselves.
The second day was the actual Home Improvement Couples & Marriage Conference. We kicked it off with Praise and Worship, which was the perfect way to get everyone's mind right! It was like a miracle for us as my husband does not typically participate, but even he got up dancing and singing. I knew right then that we both came with an open mind to this event.
Then, we got introduced to Dr. Johnny and Lezlyn Parker who got us up chanting "Marriage is Hard Work, Marriage is Heart Work, Marriage is Worth the Work and with Christ, it's worth the Work"! Hands down, they were the best presentation that I've seen about anything in life! Their very energetic and unique approach about The Foundation and Renovation of Marriage was beyond insightful! I recognized myself and my husband in the skit that they put together, as well as the beliefs/myths of marriage.
The first questions they asked was "Why do couples lose their way?" and "What happens between getting a marriage license and a divorce decree?"
Complacency, lack of spiritual growth, and communication were some of the things shout out by the audience.
Then, "What's the foundation of your marriage?" and
All VERY GREAT questions that make you go hmmmm...
"Dating brings out the best of who you are, Marriage brings out the rest of who you are."
Dr. Johnny and Lezlyn Parker shared with us their journey from a young couple to now and how their upbringing played a part on their relationship, which made me think of my marriage with my husband. We both had totally different upbringings and family dynamics and that really affects our relationship sometimes.
I grew up in a two-parent household, where I saw how my dad took care of my mom. He grew up in a single-parent household with strong women who took care of him. Certain things I feel like he should know or handle as a man are not so common for him. For instance, I would like him to make more decisions on his own vs. he likes when I make decisions about everything and can't make a decision without me. Some may not see that as an issue, but it is for me because I think making decisions take some effort and thought and letting someone else choose is an easy way out.
Nonetheless, I learned a lot from their story and their principles below because I realized "we were building our marriage on The Wrong Foundation". (Click this link for the next blog post)
The couple compared The Wrong Foundation to a Sandcastle and The Renovation to a Brick House.
The Wrong Foundation: myths and beliefs that people have about marriage.
Myth #1 "I'll change him/ her"
Myth #2 Marriage is 50/50
Myth #3 You're supposed to meet all my needs and make me happy
Myth #4 It's all about me
Myth #5 I have not had an affair
Myth #6 Because we're Christians we ought not have conflict or problems
I definitely recognized myself in #1 and #3 and my husband in #2 and #4. We are both #5, and you can learn the truths to these myths by clicking here.
In conclusion, great marriages do not happen overnight, they are built intentionally.
We closed that session with prayer and they even gave us a prayer to pray for our marriage.
God may our love for you exceed our love for each other.
We then broke out into sessions. Our first session we signed up for was Communication (Wiring) led by a couple in our church, Jason and Cherish Pipkins.
Their unique take on comparing communication to the wiring of a house was amazing.
The takeaway from that session for me was "Speak Truth in Love".
I realized that I speak Truth only and my husband speaks Love only. What does that mean?
I am convinced that my husband is in denial of our problems. It's like he's in his own fantasy world sometimes where we are the perfect couple with no problems. Reasons why I often feel like I have to "bring him back to reality" and tell him what's REALLY going on.
The lesson learned was that speaking only truth makes me "the negative one" in the relationship and him only seeing the good makes him "in denial one". We need to learn to meet in the middle and come together and speak in love to one another so the other doesn't feel criticized or defeated.
Lunch was followed by this morning session and the opportunity to engage with our Pastor Bryan and First Lady Stephanie Carter.
This Talk Back Lunch Session made me literally fall in love with the church, the pastor, and his wife. It was very informative and down to earth! You could tell that we were surrounded by grown people who were humble and there to work on their marriage. Everyone was open and comfortable, especially our speakers!
It was an open forum where we ate, asked questions, laughed, and clapped in support of one another. I left with wonderful questions I will definitely be using for content on Instagram, so make sure that you follow and engage to find out what they are!
One of the more consistent questions was, "How do you protect your marriage from technology?". It seems that everyone is having issues with being distracted by their phone. I know that is one of the main issues that we struggle with. Blog post coming soon!
We then left and attended our second session about Sex (HVAC) led by Pastor Rod and Gabi Stodghill. To my surprise, an older white couple. I went in thinking, what can they tell me about sex?!
Little did I know, this session would be way deeper than I could imagine. They described sex as a way of getting healed and freed and asked questions like "What gets freed during sex?". It really made you think outside of the normal way of thinking about sex.
The takeaway from this session was that we are to treat each other as if we are a gift, because God brought us together to free and heal each other emotionally, physically, and mentally.
This ended on giving the men an assignment of reading the first 7 chapters of Psalms before going to bed every night, in efforts to get the men to pray over their wives, possibly before sex (yes that was brought up).
The conference ended how we began with praise and worship and The Renovation of Marriage by Dr. Johnny and Lezlyn Parker.
The strong foundation: Building bricks to renovate your marriage
1. The nurturance brick - how do we nurture individually and together? How do we keep it fresh? By compromising, adjusting and finding activities to do together.
2. The honor brick - how do we honor one another? Be a cheerleader each other's biggest cheerleader by loving, valuing, and appreciating your spouse.
3. The acceptance brick - accept and receive one another where you are in life.
4. The truth brick - the truth shall set you free when God's word leads us. Acknowledge your baggage. Get honest with yourself and honest with God. Whatever you don't own owns you.
5. The humility brick - be humble, you're a team!
Needless to say, this conference was VERY beneficial to my marriage! I hope that you all find it beneficial as well and I look forward to your comments below.