To have and to hold, one day at a time. Some may say they’d prefer these types of vows instead of the traditional FROM THIS DAY FORWARD. It’s so.. shall we say… Permanent ? Oh how the luster of our diamond rings wear with the hustle and bustle of a growing family, financial stress, keeping up with the Jones's and meeting our partner’s needs while possibly skating on our children’s HotWheels.
Adam and Joanie Wegman on their anniversary.
Photos by Xsperience Photography
When the tough get going, maybe the answer is to amplify your love by simplifying your life. Such is the story for Adam and Joanie Wegman a Northern Minnesota (Brainard, MN) couple married for 18 years. Parents to three children and duel business owners. Up until about a year ago they were living what some may call a picturesque life in the North Woods where there’s fresh air, community, and less of the “to do” that urban areas have to offer. We all think the grass is greener at one time or another in our lives. But is it really?
This picturesque life included two budding businesses ( a spa and a jewelry store), a nice home with decent schools and the simplicity of a town of just 13,450 people. The couple, alternating their work schedule to meet the needs of their growing family and to avoid high childcare costs. Living a life that many would hope to give to be able to give to their kids. Although hard to juggle the ins and out that owning two businesses with employees and providing for their kids would require no one would guess what they endured even before their first child was conceived over 10 years ago.
If you are married you know marriage is no joke. It’s... hard and it gets even more difficult when you have children. That’s putting it mildly even if you have one of the best marriages that you know of. Add into the mix our childhoods and the effect of how we witness couple hood our parents examples for love and respect, and emotional trauma through our teens and twenties (sometimes 30â€™s). As many psychologists and couples therapists will tell you. There you will have a mish mash of ideas, feelings, truths, and perceptions that shape who we are in a marriage.
There is a key ingredient in this stew of what we bring to the table. Community.
Who we tie ourselves to. Who is in our foxhole. That means something. When you don’t have a "cheering section” in moments when you feel like the person you chose to be your second in command is missing the mark (or maybe not even living up to their vows) you become more human than ever and start to lose hope. Lose hope in your partner and your own abilities to see your vows through. More than that, feel the five senses of love that brought you to that person in the first place. When we say cheering section we don’t mean the friends that you confide in about your hurt feelings to and immediately give you advice to leave. Or worse yet, gossip to your friends or family about your personal relationship about their own judgements. These types of people are not a cheering section. No matter how they choose to show up in your life. We are talking about true and real community. The problem so many in a difficult spot in their relationship face is, just like many circumstances in life, you don’t go looking for it until you need it. And often by the time you need it, it’s too late.
So late that the divorce rate is about 50% in the United States. Therefore for every 10 marriages that happen 5 will seek legal counsel. Many because of the top 5 reasons couples divorce ( Money, Infidelity, Arguing, Lack of Intimacy, and Substance Abuse). How many of those 50% could be saved with the right community? The people that encourage togetherness instead of being impatient and highlight when each partner has wronged the other. Possibly even give a place for a part of the couple to stay to let heated situations cool. Sort of a “marriage time out”. Many would say an obvious answer would be to go to their church pastor for counseling. But an interesting response to a study done by LifeWay (http://bit.ly/2CaPSxW) said that couples are unwilling to discuss their marital issues because they don’t feel their church offers resources in counseling to couples. Quite possibly even because of the church culture that they don’t feel comfortable or lack of judgment if they did so.
The Search For Their Community
Once they regained their connection together while raising their kids, Adam had always expressed his need for adventure and how wonderful it would be to do that with his partner Joanie. Chips fell in line in a grouping of what at the time felt like road blocks in their family. There, suddenly in the struggle, they found alignment with their feeling that a greater community and service was calling. At an intersection of fate, a business came to an end and Adam found a bus. A bus states away that he convinced Joanie that they’d buy, refurbish, and drive across the country full time, living in with their three children ages (Solomon) 5, (Lincoln) 7, and (Eden) 10. The bus complete with kitchenette, bathroom, beds, beauty salon, and boho chic decor is a traveling mobile home for the family of five and looks like it jumped out the show Fixer Upper. Just over a year ago the Wegmans hit the road stopping at different areas to park and live. A typical day being Joanie home schools their kids, cooks, and does chores. They spend about 90% of their days outside. Mainly experiencing the beauty of their surroundings together. She also decked out the bus to be a mobile salon and they both work mobile or odd jobs where they stop to support their family as well as their found dream in their adventure. Perhaps what they had been being groomed for all along. To counsel and minister to couples about marriage and getting through the tough. Stopping from town to town over the year, they have visited countless couples discussing and breathing life into marriages. Taking a page from their own and using their faith to guide and inspire. Being the community that so many couples need in the most devastating and difficult times of their lives. A community where emotions are shared face to face and are not typed on a group or with emojis. Joanie explains that it’s so interesting throughout this journey meeting so many different couples of all ages and they always say the same comment about what they thought was missing to give them the encouragement or lift they needed to keep positive and to move forward in their marriages. “They were always missing a sense of community” Joanie says. Interesting when we have so many vantage points to connect with people yet couples say they that they feel increasingly alone.
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A Quiet Place to Land
Adam and Joanie now are diving into plans and have found a location for their couples retreat center named Haven House in Bend Oregon. A very big but much needed “time out” for couples in need of reconnection and a retreat that will prepare young adults for what relationships can (and should) be. Adam and Joanie are certified in couples and marriage therapy and are busy making plans diligently for each special part of the retreat center. A zen and middle ground for couples to learn tools to rebuild and strengthen a bond that can be saved or nurtured if they truly want it to. Complete with rustic cabins, organic restaurant (they even have a menu already planned), team and trust building activities, relaxation to be taken both together during guests/couples stay and apart. All while meeting others that are going through what they are and are honest about it. Adam and Joanie want to give couples a chance to rebuild and salvage that they may not be getting in their own community (or lack there of).