Rise Together Conference
Going into Rise Weekend I excepted it to be a good event, and I knew we were going to have a chance to learn new tools for our marriage, but it was so much more than that.
I have followed Rachel’s journey for a while, and when they announced this conference, I knew I wanted to attend because I knew it could only benefit us. My only hesitation was will Ivan be willing. After talking to him about it and although a little skeptical, he agreed. I remember as I told people what we were doing some asked if we needed a conference almost as if asking if we were in trouble.
The truth is, we are in a pretty good place in our marriage right now, but we have been in the trenches, we have been in hard seasons, and I do believe maintenance on your marriage can help get you through those hard seasons. I do think the stronger you build your marriage in the good times, the faster you can overcome the hard times.
If you follow me on Instagram you know that at the cocktail hour as we took a picture with Dave and Rachel, I got nervous and never thanked them for doing a couples conference or told them why Ivan and I attended. We needed this conference just like any other married couple. The thing we struggle with most is communication. Like most couples, we have an over communicator (me) and an under communicator (him). Can we all agree that communication is an ongoing thing in all the different stages of your relationship? Years ago we let the non-communication continue and continue, and we found ourselves in such a hard place. That journey was tough, but as much as it hurt, it was a lesson we needed. As we signed up for this conference I knew we could always learn better ways to connect and create a great relationship, because at the end of the day this is one thing we agree on 100%, we want a great marriage. This is a goal for us.
On Saturday as we left our hotel room, I told myself the primary goal was to be open and allow myself to one, be 100% honest about how I felt about our marriage and the things I wanted us to work on and two, gain some tools to bring home and apply in our own marriage.
I know Ivan was nervous. He did not know what to expect, and his idea of talking about his feelings is not always his first choice, let alone feeling vulnerable in front of other people. But he surprised me, he went all in.
Their awesome MC Brittney, also known as Beans, kicked off the morning and then she introduced Ms. Rachel Hollis.
Rachel came out and talked all about personal growth and what it means to be the best version of yourself. She asked everyone and mostly the ones that were not excited to be there to just go all in. She said, on Sunday you can go back to saying this is not for me but today go all in with your partner. Give this a real chance. The best is she has this thing where she counts backwards from 5 and when she gets to 1 you dance. She made this room do it (if you have been to Rise you know precisely what I am talking about) everyone must stand up and dance no matter what we are doing. Now can you imagine some of the people in the room already hesitant to be there? Oh, she called them out, no problem. The point is it energizes you, it can change your mood instantly or can make you do that one thing you don’t want to do. She referenced Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule, you can find it here. Then she led a beautiful meditation and reminded us we can’t expect other people to complete us. If we are resentful or not dealing with our own stuff how could we possibly be a good partner? How would any relationship survive when one partner is not growing as an individual. Her whole keynote is on their Rise Together Podcast today, listen to it here! It’s so good!
Later Dave did a presentation on how personal development was so not his thing and how he overcame that. How he hated when Rachel first started her journey on personal growth and how he wondered at one point if she would leave him after she outgrew him. I think it was helpful for most men in that room to hear his perspective.
Sometimes we think we don’t need growth or as Dave mentioned, we believe only broken people do, and only couples in trouble do couples counseling. It could not be further from the truth, and although some couples there were in crisis, some couples were there to be proactive. We met a couple who had been married for 3 weeks! Another couple of 12 years. There were couples who have dealt with infidelity and another who recently (like a month ago) came across Rachel and Dave and just took a chance and bought their ticket.
One of my favorite segments was listening to Elyse Snipes, the marriage and family therapist. She spoke about intimacy. She asked hard questions we had to think about on our own, and she asked us to pay attention to how our body reacted as she asked the questions. She asked the room later what did you feel and if they were questions we had reactions to? If yes, then this is where the work needs to be done. These may be the barriers that are stopping us from having real intimacy with our partners. I think the thing I have kept playing over in my head was her saying, “everything is solvable.” Everything we deal with is solvable, even the dark parts of your life and your relationship.
Another good point she made was about giving your relationship grace. She referred to relationships as having an age, as in a human. Maybe your marriage is in the toddler stage, how would you treat a toddler? When they can’t walk right away or talk right away, you’re usually gentle with them. Or perhaps you’re in the teenage years, married 10 plus years. Sometimes relationships act like teenagers like they know it all. She posted the talk on her podcast if you want to take a listen. I found it so helpful and you can listen to it here.
Midday was the most powerful part of the conference. The forgiveness letters. Rachel asked us to write a letter (individually) forgiving ourselves or our spouse for something that has been weighing on us or has kept us from having the marriage we want. We were asked if there was one thing we could leave here today, one thing we could leave this weekend to go and have an exceptional marriage what would it be? I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. The emotion was overwhelming. We were then asked to talk to our spouse and write words we wanted to let go of on a stone and drop it in a box. I realized at this moment every single couple has their “stuff”, we are all human. No relationship is immune to issues, and that’s OK, what is essential is all 200 of us are working on it and striving to be better. It was powerful. The energy in the room was overwhelming in the best way.
After that we were asked to create core values for our relationship, this was something Ivan, and I had never really written out. When we started working on them, we realized we had many unspoken ones but never defined them as a core value. I loved this part because I believe making a list helps you recognize when you are stuck in a rut, and you both know what to come back to. You both know what to pursue as a couple because it is clear about what is most important in your relationship. How often are you and your partner making sure you are on the same page? How often are you having real conversations about where you guys stand? Core Values can help see what you both always working towards. Here are our core values:
Being a Team on all Fronts
Later came a conversation about communication and love languages. Gosh, communication, I will repeat, communication will never stop evolving, I think it is critical knowing how you each do it and handle it. We know our love languages, we actually took this test years ago after a hard season in our marriage. At the conference, as we took a similar test again, we noticed some things had shifted slightly as to what levels, but our love languages were the same as before, they did not change. We also realized that although we know them, we still revert to loving each other on what comes natural and not how our spouse needs to be loved. Sometimes we are so good at this, and other times we get lazy. This was something we had not really discussed in a while, and I’m happy it came to light again.
The last hour of the conference was light-hearted and meant to be fun after all the emotions. The topic was sex. They passed out the champagne, and we were asked to write out a sex bucket-list individually and then share it with our partner. I will say nothing was held back in this conversation, Dave and Rachel were honest and I know so many couples got so much out of it because it was a great conversation. We all need to be comfortable talking about this, it is not a bad thing to strive to have a good sex life in your marriage, and you should not be ashamed to say it out loud.
They did a great job of creating a safe place for couples. Throughout the day we all became more and more comfortable with sharing with our spouse and even with them at some points. They made us feel like we were all on the same team and WE ARE! We were all there working to have “exceptional” marriages.
Again, THANK YOU to Rachel & Dave for creating this conference and for encouraging all of us to have great relationships. And THANK YOU to all the incredible couples we met, we’ll always have Austin year one of Rise Together!!!
PS. They ended the evening with a FUUUUUUUN famous couples costume party!