Justin and I attended the XO Marriage Conference at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX this weekend. Some of the featured speakers included Dr. Henry Cloud (I am a huge fan of his work and his book “Boundaries”), Jimmy Evans (he has a TV show called “Marriage Today” that reaches 110 million people every day across the world), and John Gray (an amazing and hilarious pastor- I will post some video clips in an upcoming post). Gateway just so happens to be our home church. Yes, we are incredibly blessed with the church that has amazing Godly leaders and events that will challenge and provoke, providing the deepest insights about God and self that will change lives forever. Being a part of this church has been life changing for me. There were 25,000 participants in this conference (including the hundreds of simulcasts happening at churches across the country). I hope they were all as blessed as Justin and I were from the experience this weekend. We didn’t attend because we had marital issues. Instead we went to learn more about ourselves and what God wants our marriage to look like. We left the conference even more in love and recommitted to keeping God at the center of our marriage and our commitment to one another even more devoted. I love my husband very much and recognize that he is a gift that God gave to me. A good marriage is always a work in progress. I never want to lose sight of that. Nor do I want to ever forget that God is the source of our marital strength, goodness, and happiness.
The Gateway Southlake location was sold out and every seat was filled. I am grateful we were able to get tickets! Our seats for the main event were in the balcony, as the floor seats sold out so fast. I will pre-register for the next event, so I can make sure we can sit just a little closer next time. Here is their website if you want to check it out for yourself! www.xomarriageconference.com There were newlyweds who attended alongside couples who had been married over 50 years! This conference is beneficial to ALL married couples.
On the first day, the afternoon sessions were open seating. We got there early and stood in line for about a half hour so we could at least sit close for that part of the conference. We are “those people”. I like to sit up front. I was like that in school too…well, at least for the classes I liked. We sat near a very nice Christian couple who flew in from Baltimore, Maryland to attend this conference. They were so nice! We got to know them a bit while we waited for the conference to begin. Justin and I took a little selfie during the wait too-
The first speakers yesterday were Marcus and Lexa Brecheen. They are pastoral staff at the North Richland Hills campus of Gateway Church. Their message was spot-on and I truly appreciated their transparency about their marriage. Their marriage had not always been perfect, and they were willing to share this with this audience. They shared that they attended couple’s counseling sessions over the many years of their marriage 7 times. Not seven session, but seven different seasons of marriage counseling. This is great news! People stay married and can have good and healthy marriages when they seek out the right help when needed! You could see in their interactions that they have a deep and true love for one another. A love that so many married people yearn to have and feel. They had great advice and insights for the participants of this conference. Here are some of the key points that they shared with the audience:
- When you get good Christian marriage counseling you will come out of it stronger in your marriage and even more devoted to the sacred covenant of your marriage.
- High expectations will set you up for disappointment in your marriage. You need to be realistic with your expectations of your spouse. You also need to voice your expectations to your spouse. Spouses are not mind readers!
- Marriages are “prophetic”- What this means is that marriage was created by God and God ordained. Marriage is something bigger than ourselves. It points to God!
The “prophetic marriage” was a new term to me. The concept was not, but the term itself was new, so I appreciated the full explanation of their thoughts on this term. Here are some the points they made about a prophetic marriage:
- As spouses we are to be disciplining one another into the image of Christ.
- Submission to our spouse is about submitting to Christ. Submitting to our spouse is done first under the submission and authority to Christ. We submit to our spouse because it is GOD’S words from the bible. Not something just made up by man.
- Having a prophetic marriage means you are always looking out for the other person- even more so than your own interests.
- If your happiness is dependent on a spouse then you will always be disappointed. Real happiness and joy comes from the Lord! Don’t try to use marriage to find happiness, as you will always end up disappointed eventually. God is where true happiness and fulfillment come from.
- When responding to your spouse, in a prophetic marriage you should respond to your spouse as Christ would respond to the church, as this is the example given to us in Ephesians of how man and wife are like Christ and the church. We need to evaluate emotions before responding and hold back when they are not in Christ’s image.
Another major point that they made was to give emotional generosity to your spouse. I think this one is very important. This can make or break a marriage. If you are so hard on your spouse and believe that their intentions are bad for you, then your response will always be negative and skewed toward disaster. Emotional generosity means communicating “everything you do toward me is out of goodness and kindness”, said Lexa Brechen. Their key points on emotional generosity were:
- Only 7% of communication is words. The rest of communication comes in the form of facial, body language, gestures, etc. We must be very aware of our non-verbal communications to our spouse.
- To diffuse a disagreement or situation, respond to your spouse in a manner that does not engage in high emotions.
- All of our emotions are given by God. However, how we chose to use these emotions is up to us. For example, we can use the emotion of anger in a righteous way, or we can use it in an unholy way. It is up to us how we use the range of emotions God has given us. To use them in a holy manner, or an unholy manner is up to us as individuals.
- Emotional generosity is a grace that we give to our husband or wife when they are acting harshly toward us. We give them the benefit of the doubt and recognize that they may be sick, tired, or thinking of other things; which may be causing them to act in a less than kind or loving manner toward us.
- We need to take responsibility for our own responses to our spouse. If we are overly sensitive all the time, then we need to take ownership and responsibility for that. We need to have an awareness of our sensitivities and how we may take things the wrong way.
There were some great thoughts and insights on marriage and the word of God on that first day from Marcus and Lexa Breecheen. I am thankful I had the opportunity to learn and grow from their personal experiences. They are a loving couple who has obviously had ups and downs throughout life, but have chosen to work through things with God at the center of their marriage.