According to the world, Helene and Dean Conway were doing fine. They weren’t cheating on one another. Mistrust and hatred wasn’t creeping into their relationship. Yet the Conways were discontent.
They attended A Weekend to Remember conference, an event hosted by FamilyLife, Campus Crusade for Christ’s ministry to marriages and families, in hopes of improving what they considered an “average” marriage.
Even after they completed all the material, they didn’t recognize any major changes. Six years later, in August 2010, the couple attended the same conference again. But this time, they saw different results.
A Weekend to Remember puts the emphasis on being a better spouse, not on having a better marriage. Helene and Dean chose to focus on that too. They were committed to following through and recognized that only the Holy Spirit could change them.
The conference assigned homework that included writing a love letter to each other. Helene wrote of how she had seen Dean serving her so much that it almost seemed like he was going overboard.
Dean was shocked when he read her letter because he hadn’t made extra efforts to serve her. He was merely responding in obedience when He felt the Spirit calling him to something.
Dean’s personal spiritual growth ensured that Helene felt deeply loved by Dean.
In her letter, Helene apologized for not encouraging Dean enough. He was bewildered to hear this because of how often he had noticed her encouragement. Her words made him feel both honored and respected.
“That’s when you go, ‘Wow, the Holy Spirit has done this; it’s not been me. Right here I’ve had the desire, but he’s done the deed,’” she said.
Helene and Dean occasionally get frustrated with one another, but they see those times as opportunities to grow, not obstacles to overcome. It’s those rough patches that help them to grow stronger and closer to one another.
“Marriage doesn’t just happen,” she said. “You do need to work on it. You don’t just drive your car and expect it to keep going without putting some maintenance into it, and marriage in some ways is a little bit like that.”
“You’re driving life together, and if you don’t get some maintenance in there, you are going to end up striking problems,” she said. “Don’t wait to go in for urgent repairs; get in [for maintenance] first.”
When Helene and Dean went to A Weekend to Remember, their marriage wasn’t in shambles. But they have learned there is always something to work on or an area they can improve in.
“Sometimes it feels like we’re back in honeymoon stage,” says Helene. “We just have such a love for each other, but it’s very mature love now.”