Karen and I attended the marriage conference called “A Weekend to Remember” at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids last February. It was a fabulous weekend full of help for today and hope for tomorrow. More than 850 were in attendance and I must say we've never stayed in quite such an upscale and historic facility—wow! There were newlyweds, those married more than 50 years and everything in between. The weekend closed with a renewal of vows and the signing of a covenant to pursue oneness as a couple. That certificate will always be a prized possession in the Anderson home.
Each spouse receives a manual that guides them through the four parts of the weekend: The Dream for Marriage, The Fall of Marriage, The Hope for Marriage and The Mission of Marriage. The best advice given is at the front of the guide, “This is for you, not your spouse...you'll be tempted to nod and give your spouse an gentle 'Did you hear that?' elbow in the side, you will get far more out the Weekend to Remember if you focus on how you can do better.” The premise of the content is that every couple is either moving towards oneness (God's plan) or isolation. The presenters took us on a deep dive into communication, forgiveness, the threats to marriage, fighting, sex, how to invite God into your marriage, and making an impact on the world. Saturday night was “date night” and couples were sent out to dinner together at local restaurants.
Presenters were dynamic couples and excellent communicators. They grounded their sharing in Biblical truth and honest personal sharing about real life experience. Their enthusiasm for oneness in marriage was infectious. Their testimonies were riveting. Our notebooks were covered with writing. At one point the conference was divided into sessions for women only (How to love you husband) and men only (how to love your wife). There was even a session for blended families.
We were surprised to run into a young couple I had married some 15 years ago in Houghton. They were serving on the volunteer prayer team. It's always a joy to know that one's efforts at pre-marital counseling worked!
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for us is how good it is to experience to have such a dedicated and lengthy time and space just for our relationship. It was like a tall glass of ice tea on summer's day. Familylife.com has many excellent resources. We came home with a book of 52 couples devotions called “The Story of Us”. We noted with some interest “The Art of Marriage” a video resource to hold a one-day marriage conference in your church.
At $350 per couple these weekends are not a cheap date, nor is it easy for busy couples to find a whole weekend to spend alone with each other. But there are frequent discounts given—I got it for half-price just before Christmas! The hotel cost is on top of that. Meals are not included—Karen and I brought some food from home to mitigate this expense. The next “Weekend to Remember” is in Kalamazoo on April 24-26. We recommend every couple in our church consider making the investment in their relationship! You and your sweetheart deserve this.