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From This Day Forward Marriage Conference
New Orleans, LA * March 20, 2004

NEW ORLEANS, LA: It's at the heart of marriage-the constant desire to be one with your spouse. Some days it seems easy to work toward, other days it's harder. But every day, we can learn more about each other and how to comfort, support, and love our spouse for the rest of our lives. That was the focus of this year's From This Day Forward (FTDF) marriage conference.

A variety of couples attended FTDF on March 20, 2004 in New Orleans, Louisiana. There were the lovey-dovey, don't-seem-to-have-any-problems couples that screamed newlyweds. Numerous other couples still sparkled with chemistry but seemed to have years together under their belts. And yes, a few couples came with emotional scars and an issue or two to iron out. Each couple came for different reasons. Jeffery and Milca Hudgens from Monticello, Arkansas had been married for two months when they came to the marriage conference, at which they hoped to establish an early foundation of give and take. Jarrod and Cathy Culberson of the Westbank church in New Orleans decided to attend the conference to improve upon their marriage of six years. A total of 60 couples attended the event. Each pair left with new insight and perspective into how to more closely resemble the oneness that Christ desires us to have.

Speakers Willie and Elaine Oliver, Directors of From This Day Forward, and Mike and Gayle Tucker, Pastors of the Arlington church in Texas, started out the day with a praise and welcome time. Couples were encouraged to go through the day with four goals in mind: 1) give it your all, 2) work as a team, 3) practice and review strategies, and 4) pray today and daily for your relationship.

The Olivers and Tuckers co-hosted five general sessions throughout the day: 1) the joy of oneness, 2) communication, 3) sexuality, 4) problem solving, and 5) forgiveness. The sessions seemed to reach people on all spectrums-from those having trouble with one or several issues to those who weren't struggling with anything major, but wanted to strengthen their relationship more.

Some highlights included the talking totem, a device designed to help spouses communicate more effectively and balance their roles as communicator and listener; tips for preserving sexual oneness, and several ideas on how to work through the process of forgiveness. Jeffery said everything at the conference was beneficial to him, especially the talking totem. "We learned how to use it," said Jeffery. "Now we don't have to use it and it still works."

Norma Jones of the Hammond Louisiana church said she feels she and her husband, Darren, came away with a lot of useful information, particularly how to deal with forgiving others. "We learned to recognize that we're not angry at each other," explained Norma. "There are other situations that have spilled over into us."

Norma also enjoyed the recommitment of vows at the end of the day. "Two days later we celebrated our two-year anniversary," she recalled. "The vows came at the perfect time for us."

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