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Marriage Conference Thoughts
My husband and I are teaching at a marriage conference this weekend in Barrie, Ontario. We love these weekends. It's one of the few times we get away together as a couple, even if we do have to "work", but we also get to think about and talk about our relationship all weekend, which makes us feel closer.

There are usually about 100 couples at such conferences, and they range from those who are blissfully happy to those who just need a tune-up and all the way down to those for whom this is a last resort. It's always a challenge.

I thought I'd share some of my favourite quotations that I use at these conferences, and some of my favourite thoughts. So here they are, in no particular order.

1. Happy marriages begin when we marry the one we love. They endure when we love the one we marry.

Too often we're focused on whether this person is the right one; but in the end, it doesn't matter. Even if you marry someone totally great, life will get in the way. You are selfish. They are selfish. Crises happen. You get busy. It's not about marrying the right person; it's about putting your spouse first and becoming the right person.

2. More marriages were survive if more people realized the better often comes after the worse. We expect marriage to be great, and it isn't always great. But stick it out: the best is often yet to come. I know that's what we've experienced.

Keith and I often say that we've been married for 18 years, and happily married for 13. Life was hard at the beginning. But it's awesome now, and it's because we decided to stick it out and stop focusing so much on whether my mate was meeting my needs, and focused instead on how we can be the best spouse possible. It changes your attitude, and that changes your perspective and makes you happy.

3. Research says that if your marriage is in the toilet, it isn't necessarily time to flush it. In one study highlighted in the book The Case for Marriage, Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher followed couples who had rated their marriages as either a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 8, with 8 being lousy. They looked at these individuals for 5 years.

5 years later, those who had divorced were less likely to be happy than the individuals who had stayed married. Even more amazingly, 86% of marriages had improved, with 77% now rating their marriages as either a 1 or a 2. There's something about sticking it out. When you do, you make the decision that you need to fix things. You commit to turning things around. And quite often they do!

4. Marriage is hard work. There is a lot of pain out there. There are a lot of people suffering from addictions, or betrayals, or baggage from their childhood. I just don't think you can get through well without God. Ultimately we can't change things; but He can change us. He can grow us and stretch us and transform us.

You don't have to do it alone. What really works is just yielding to God and letting Him change you, bit by bit. It's amazing what an impact that can have on your marriage.

Sometimes we're scared to trust God, though, because what if He takes away something we love? Or what if He thinks we should change, rather than just changing our spouse? But go to Him. He has your best interests at heart. He loves you. And He doesn't ask you to do the impossible. All He says is: let Me do it. Surrender to Me, and I will do the hard work. But He can't do that until we let Him.

Those are some of my thoughts for today. Maybe I'll post some more later. But I hope that gives you a taste! And do check out the Family Life marriage conferences. We have one day conferences we'll do in churches, too, so if you live in Canada, look into it. It really is a great day.

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At 6:56 PM , Blogger sarahe said…

Great thoughts! My parents often make a similar comment to what you said under #2 "we've been married for 29 years...23 happy years"

I have only been married for a little over 3 years but I already see so many of these things playing out. Thanks!


At 2:31 PM , Blogger Mommy said…

My husband and I are going on year 9 and definately things are tough right now. with two little ones and full time jobs it is simply crazy. We are striving to work on things and making our marriage stronger. Communication is simply the key to everything. Boys don't think like girls and girls don't think like boys. I have to remind myself that frequently.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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