• James and Teri Craft

Reflection of Marriage Unplugged Intensive By Sarah Lattimer

“Hey Sarah, are you interested in possibly writing some blog posts for the Life Unplugged website?” That was the text I received from my mentor, life coach, and very dear friend, Teri Craft, the other day. [Insert mind blown emoji here]. Was she really asking me that? The only things I had written since college were a few Christmas letters when my kids were little, and countless journal entries...but blogs are something new to me.

I was instantly freaking out on the inside, but Teri is so encouraging. She asked me to write about myself and my husband Jacob’s experience at the Marriage Unplugged Weekend Intensive, as well as the months of coaching and encouragement that came after that weekend. It was clear to me that I was supposed to say yes, because sharing about our experience is something we can’t help but do on a regular basis anyway.

Late summer of 2018, Jacob and I received our first Marriage Unplugged Weekend Intensive email advertisement. We were on a journey of forgiveness and recovery in our marriage and had been meeting with James and Teri Craft for a while. When I saw that email, I was instantly intrigued, but wasn’t sure if it was something we should do. I started asking them some questions and began to think that we couldn’t afford to go. You see, a year into our marriage recovery, Jacob lost his job and at that point, hadn’t been working for about 7 months. Who spends money on that kind of program when you have been unemployed for several months? Well, surprisingly, we do.

Initially, it was a struggle to commit. We talked about it from every angle, and truthfully, over-thought everything. And by “we” I really mean “I,” because Jacob was almost immediately on board. But together we realized that our marriage relationship is second only to our relationship with God. We knew our relationship still needed lots of work and we began to see, and truly believe, that we and our marriage were worth the investment. The life we had built together was worth the investment. Our kids and grandkids were worth the investment. So honestly, we were stepping out in faith. We didn’t know what it was going to be like to be in a room full of new friends sharing our deepest hurts. Would we even be able to open up and do that? It's hard to explain with words, but, from the moment we walked into that house, it was clear that we were not only going to be meet some other great couples and professionals that could help us, but God was there to do a work as well.

Over the next few days, we were guided by Nancy Houston, a professional therapist, in relationship discussions. We were coached by Gary Dunahoo, a pastor and personality/behavioral/leadership coach, on the best ways to interact with our spouses based on the results of an extensive personality test. We were fed food comparable to anything we could have ordered in a high-end restaurant, and we had a breathtaking view of the ocean the entire time. We were even close enough to hear the crashing of the waves as we slept at night! In fact, there were times the waves overpowered the conversations in our couples process meetings so much that we couldn’t have the doors opened. Ah…so wonderful! It was all such a thoroughly complete package… even as I type this, I know I am not doing it justice.

Now, let me just admit, I am a skeptic in nearly all areas. I was so doubtful about this whole thing, from spending the money to whether or not it would really be fruitful. But, here is what I saw with my own eyes and felt in my soul. I saw husbands begin to extend empathy to their wives. I saw wives feeling compassion for their husbands in new ways. I saw men fully identifying with each other’s struggles and women ministering to one another. The room was thick with the beginnings of new awareness and forgiveness. There were tears. Healthy, healing tears. But there was also laughter...glorious again and again, healing laughter. It was truly a ministry to our souls.

At the end of that weekend, deep and caring relationships had been formed with people we had not known three days earlier. The bond was tangible and we didn’t want to leave. It was like watching a beautiful movie and wishing it wouldn’t end. We were all going home to our different parts of the country and we were sad. The hopeful part was that this wasn’t the end of our journey together. Woo hoo!! [Insert high five emoji here]. We already had dates on the calendar when we were going to meet again in our couples cohort webinars. We had all exchanged numbers and had started group texts. That movie that we didn’t want to end…wasn’t ending!

Over the next six months, I met with Teri, and Jacob met with James, once or twice a month. Jacob and I met with James and Teri together twice a month as couples. And our cohort got together once a month, many times with one of the relational experts from the weekend as well. Relationships continued to grow. Life continued to happen and we were able to be there for each other and pray for one another in some very difficult times. We also rejoiced with one another in some profound victories. These relationships are not things of the past, and Jacob and I can honestly say that our lives were enriched through this unique experience as well as by these brave, compassionate, smart, funny and amazing people. It is evident to us, to our family, and to our friends that our marriage has been forever changed and that a new calling has been placed on our hearts to journey with others as they navigate the hills and valleys of their lives.

Reflecting on all of this and sharing it in this blog gets my blood pumping and my heart excited for what can and will happen in your life if you are able to dive in. I am telling you, if you are on the fence about attending a Marriage Unplugged Intensive Weekend, jump off whole-heartedly onto the side where healing, wholeness, and the tools for living your life with greater depth await you. The side that cheers you on as you invest in yourself, in your marriage, and in your family’s legacy for this AND future generations. You will not regret it, I promise.

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