Prior to the conference, I listened to some of the RM sermons as well as read parts of the book, so some of the information was the same, but let's be real, Mark Driscoll is pretty much hilarious so hearing the same joke twice was fine by me. Most of the wisdom I felt like I gained was from Grace, Mark's wife, during the Q&A sessions.
Here are some wisdom nugs from the conference:
Nugget 1: There are 3 kinds of marriages:
- Back-to-back: back to back marriages aren't good, in fact, they're kind of awful. Generally couples with this type of marriage have separate activities, separate beds, separate bank accounts, etc. They don't even really enjoy each other, and they sure as heck aren't friends.
- Shoulder-to-shoulder: this kind of marriage is your run-of-the-mill, not too shabby (but not too great) marriage. These couples are task oriented. They're focused on ministry, children, other family members, etc. all before their spouse. This is the life-happened-and-I-woke-up-fifteen-years-later-to-realize-I-didn't-know-my-spouse kinda marriage. This is the most easy to fall into marriage. Ultimately an idol is holding this type of marriage together, and often when that idol is removed, the spouses go their separate ways.
- Face-to-face: In a face-to-face marriage, the husband and wife are friends. They are constantly growing in their friendship with Jesus and their friendship with each other. (That's what I'm talkin' bout.)
- "How are you doing?" is a face-to-face question
- "What are you doing?" is a shoulder-to-shoulder question
"A spouse doesn't change you, they reveal you." Marriage is sanctifying. Relationships in general are. (Aaaamen to that.)
They used an analogy of two cups, one representing each spouse. Your spouse doesn't determine what's in the cup or change what's in the cup, but they can bump against your cup and see what comes out. (Can you say, "convicting?")
Nugget 4: Marriage gets better or it gets bitter.
To borrow the words of my pastor's wife, you aren't "dealt" a good marriage or a bad marriage. Its a dynamic relationship that you work on together.
Nugget 5: how to fight
Dr. John Gottman, a marriage researcher, can predict (with 91% accuracy) whether or not couples will get a divorce based on these four factors during conflict:
- Criticism that attacks the person not the problem. (a.k.a. "You always do this!" or "You never do that!")
- Contempt that is rooted in disgust. This manifests itself in a parental tone.
- Defensiveness where the guilty person refuses to repent.
- Stonewalling (where one person shuts down or walks away)
Agree to ground rules before fighting: Has your spouse committed a sin or simply made a mistake?
Nugget 7: conflict isn't bad because it's real, heartfelt, and sanctifying
"If you never fight, you probably aren't having heartfelt conversations that often lead to disagreement." (Real Marriage)
I didn't even get to half of the little bits of wisdom I took away from the weekend because there were lots! I know Mark and Grace have gotten a lot of flack for their book. I know every Christian doesn't get warm and fuzzy insides when they hear the name "Mark Driscoll." But their book isn't a hard and fast rule book that's all about sex (in fact, only half the book is about sex). It's got good principles for friendship, and more specifically, the most intimate friendship - marriage!
You can listen to the Real Marriage series here and purchase the book here!