Let’s be honest upfront: my initial priorities were not the conference.
“In support of one of our clients, FamilyLife, we will be sending 3 interested couples to Chicago to attend one of their marriage conferences this summer.”
As this flashed across my inbox I thought: Married? Yes. Free trip to Chicago? Absolutely I’m interested, what kind of question is that?
Frankly, I wasn’t interested in sitting through a ton of cheesy, embarrassingly unartistic Christian music, videos, games, or other forms of summer-camp-like-torture I was vividly imagining. First and foremost, I am a Christian woman, and wholeheartedly believe my love for Christ should shape all my feelings and actions. I’ll be the first to admit though, sometimes Christians have a pretty terrible way of communicating what are actually super stellar and important messages. (This isn’t an overarching belief of mine for everything Christians produce. There are incredibly artistic, brilliant Christian communicators and artists out there, few and far between.) But I’m in a really happy marriage, and I really like good food. I saw this as an opportunity for a fairly broke newlywed couple to just get through a conference and then be rewarded with the city.
Well, shame on me.
I realized I should have had a lot more faith in FamilyLife, and a lot more faith in God. Lucky for me as a sinner, God will ultimately speak when you need to be spoken to, even if I was more focused on cheesy deep-dish pizza rather than strengthening my marriage biblically. The day was peppered with comedy, surprisingly amazing praise and worship music, and theologically-sound marital advice (terrific for us specifically as we’re laying the foundation of our marriage in this first year.)
Debriefing the conference between ourselves on the 5-hour ride home, Austin & I actually agreed the most impactful session for us was when speaker Crawford Loritts shared 7 gifts women should bring to the marriage for their husbands, and his bride of 43 years, Karen Loritts, shared 7 gifts men should bring to the marriage for their wives.
Convicting but not guilt-trippy and comedic in all the right places, here is (unfortunately) the abridged version of the 7 gifts Crawford taught that wives should bring to the marriage for their husbands:
It is absolutely crucial to continuously grow your relationship with Jesus and to help be a Godly leader in your household. Everything stems from this truth.
2 Unrivaled Priority
Unrivaled. Your priorities should be God, your Husband, then your Children. Keeping this order not only benefits you and your husband, but your children, too. One of the worst things you can do for your children is not letting them know their correct order and place in your life. Otherwise, you create entitled children.
Honor your husband in his assigned place in your life and home -don’t demean or put him down in front of anybody. Anybody. Don’t throw in his face your walk with Christ to show him how lost he is.
Don’t underestimate the transformative power you have over your husband.
There is one person who is with him in life, and that’s you. This does not mean blind allegiance -tell him what’s what when he needs it- but no matter what, you should have his back.
Also important: he isn’t going to grow if you’re constantly buying him the books and holding his hand to small group. Give him the opportunity to be the man.
Your words are the wind in your husband’s sails. Use uplifting language, it’s so detrimental to your marriage to continuously focus on his faults.
Your husband should never question whose team you’re on.
Protect your marriage’s business, and don’t make it anybody else’s business. Talking too much is one of the quickest ways to destroy trust.
(My favorite point to this:) Be wary of the fishing expeditions that are Small Groups. Don’t dress up what should be you and your husband’s private business in a prayer request.
Theme of the session: There is no such thing as a rich marriage built on selfishness.
Terrific conference, and I’m truly glad God opened my heart to accepting the powerful, wonderfully applicable messages.But come on, could it be a true Karber vacation without a little light shopping?
Chicago is a terrifically fun city.