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Welcome to our blog! We are a husband & wife photography team based in Madison, Wisconsin who document weddings & anniversaries for joyful couples who believe in marriage. This blog is a journal about real love stories, marriage & our own adventures along the way. We are so glad you're here — please stay awhile!




CONNECT 2018 | A Life Changing Marriage Retreat.

May 9, 2018

As I sat in the room on the final day of the marriage retreat, listening to couples voluntarily share their stories of both heartache and triumph, I was overcome with a realization (that may seem obvious).

For marriage to work, we must die to ourselves. 

Die to our selfishness.

Die to our PRIDE.

Pride is the big one in my mind because pride tells you that it’s not your fault but rather everyone else’s fault. It points the blame to your spouse, your children, or even other family members or friends. It does ANYTHING to tell you, “This horrible, challenging circumstance … it’s not your fault.” But could it be true that we all play at least some part in every situation we are a part of? If we can die to ourselves and to our pride, maybe then we can see our own wrongdoings and contributions to our current situation.

Pride also tells you not to be vulnerable. It tells you to never share what’s really going on in your life because what will others think of you? What will your spouse think of you? What will they do? On the first day of the retreat, a husband (who is currently in a really tough season with his wife that has been going on for several years) shared that he has learned you are either running towards life or you are running towards death. Pride will tell you that hiding from others or your spouse will give you life because they won’t know who you really are and if they know who you really are or what you are really struggling with, that will bring death.

But how is hiding or blaming working for you (this is something I ask myself a lot)? Is it bringing you life? Or is it forcing a wedge between the intimacy you really desire with your spouse and kids … day by day, the closeness and true joy fades just a little bit more.

From what I’ve experienced in my own marriage and heard from those in my life who have also walked through really tough seasons, choosing pride … blaming others … hiding from your spouse … this is what actually brings death.

It doesn’t work in the long run.

In the long run, you feel empty and unfulfilled.

Marriage was designed to bring us into a relationship with another human being where we are truly and fully known. This is hard and so, so messy. But experiencing it (and the thought of continuing to experience it in deeper ways) is the greatest and sweetest gift I have received this side of Heaven.

CONNECT has played SUCH a significant part in our marriage story as others, in humility and vulnerability, have invited us into the hard work of honesty and transformation with each other in our own marriage. I hope that we, too, can be a safe place for others to go deeper with and pursue the intimacy they truly long for in their marriage.

Because we’re all in this together.

Because of how (literally) life-changing CONNECT has been in our own marriage, I can’t not share this resource with you. If you are a couple who works together in business, I would highly, highly recommend learning more about CONNECT and signing up if even the slightest part of you feels pulled to do so. I PROMISE you will not regret it. Marriage is hard and requires us to take selfless risks. This could be one of them. I am so happy to share more privately, too, so please feel free to email me at wearetheengels@gmail.com <3

And to end, just a few photos from our time at CONNECT this year — this is our fourth year going!

The retreat takes place in Rome, Georgia (about 1.5 hours north of Atlanta) at Winshape Retreat Center. The grounds are STUNNING and so peaceful. It is an old dairy farm that they converted into a retreat center so yes, you are staying in old cattle barns … but they are gorgeous as you can see!! Another fun fact, this was all done by Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A! : )

Love these people to death : )

For more info on CONNECT in general, click here!

For information on registration, click here!


  1. Moira says:

    More great thoughts – thank you! And in an area where I’ve long struggled because thanks to my childhood to me being vulnerable and letting close equals getting hurt. But that is just a form of pride and attempted self-preservation, something that isn’t good for anyone, single or married!

    • Maison Engel says:

      I’m so glad this resonated with you! Thanks for sharing your heart 🙂 You are definitely not alone!

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