Like any normal marriage, Shawn and Amanda Goodrich have experienced their fair share of challenges in the last 14 years.
They constantly struggle to balance two demanding jobs, two busy boys, family activities, finances, and personal time. As pressures mounted over the years, they began fighting over every detail–or not talking at all. They sought traditional marriage counseling to help strengthen their relationship, but things only grew worse.
"We went through a couple of marriage counselors, and it was deflating," Shawn says. "They would pit us against each other and create tension. We wanted our marriage to work, but we needed something vastly different. We were at our last straw. "
Then, when Shawn and Amanda experienced a difficult family event, the added stress and difficult emotions brought them to their breaking point. They didn’t know where else to turn and were close to calling it quits–but they weren’t ready to give up just yet.
A Calling to Get Involved
Luckily, just a few years prior, a good friend invited Shawn and Amanda to attend a Sunday service at North Metro Church.
Although they both grew up believing in God, getting to church wasn’t a priority for a long time. But Shawn felt a stirring in his heart to press in deeper with the Lord–and they both thought going to church would be good for their family–so they accepted.
The Goodrich family started attending NMC sporadically. As the messages began to hit home, Shawn and Amanda found themselves drawn more and more to the church.
One Sunday, Amanda heard about re|engage, NMC’s care ministry for couples who want to invest in their marriages through a Christ-centered approach. Shawn and Amanda were immediately interested, but their busy schedules prevented them from joining.
But one year later, still struggling in their marriage, they knew it was time to act.
"I saw in the newsletter that NMC was hosting re|engage again," Amanda says. "We were in between marriage counselors, and we had to do something–or it wasn't going to end well. Re|engage stuck out to me every time it came around, like something was telling me we should do this. So I went to Shawn, and he agreed. We decided we needed to make re|engage work."
With the help of friends and NMC’s childcare reimbursement support, Shawn and Amanda were able to secure coverage for their boys so they could attend the classes. They signed up for re|engage and plunged ahead with trepidation–but also with hope.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Although Shawn and Amanda weren’t sure what to expect with re|engage, they quickly found they weren’t alone in their struggles and concerns.
In fact, their small group had couples from all different stages of life, from newlyweds to grandparents. Some were in active crisis, like Shawn and Amanda, but others were participating in re|engage simply to build and maintain a strong and healthy marital foundation. But no matter their background or story, each couple had wisdom, insight, and experiences to share.
For Shawn and Amanda, the re|engage environment was a breath of fresh air.
"Everyone had similar problems," Shawn says. "There's no fear of judgment here. We could laugh and joke about things as a group, and it wasn’t me and Amanda against each other. For us, re|engage was more relaxed and much better than seeing a marriage counselor. It felt like God was here to help us, and he wanted us to be together."For 10 weeks, their small group gathered to discuss deep topics in their marriages. Although Shawn and Amanda admit it took a few sessions for everyone to get comfortable, it wasn’t long until the conversations took off and close friendships blossomed.
“It was a little awkward at first,” Amanda says. “But after a few weeks everyone is very open. It’s extremely helpful to hear different stories and ideas. And the group leaders are there to guide us. Overall, re|engage has been a great community for us. By the end, you know about each other’s lives, and you’re sharing advice. It pushes you and drives you to work on your marriage.”
Today, Shawn and Amanda are wrapping up their second round of re|engage. Their first experience helped them comprehend and digest the concepts. This time, they’ve been able to fully soak in what they’ve learned and communicate at an even deeper level. As re|engage veterans, they even spark “icebreaker” conversations at their table and provide guidance for first-time members.
On the Path to Healing and Restoration
Although Shawn and Amanda aren’t quite where they want to be, their marriage is healing and on the path to restoration. They’re learning and practicing humility, grace, forgiveness, patience, and the art of letting things go. Re|engage has even helped them with parenting–and their kids are noticing the positive difference all around.
“We’re far from perfect,” Amanda says. “Life is still there, and we still have arguments. But what’s changed is we’re handling situations differently and working together now instead of fighting. We’re also spending more time together and making it a point to show each other affection.”
Shawn and Amanda continue to lean on their re|engage small group community, inside and outside the classroom. They check in on each other, gather for social events, and try to sit together during church. Best of all, if they ever need guidance or support, a helpful and listening ear is only a phone call away.
Their experience with re|engage has strengthened their faith and brought them closer to each other – and to God. They’re consistently coming to church, praying more, and seeking the Lord individually and as a couple.
“To see people come back from really bad situations, to see a radical transformation in a marriage–that makes it feel promising for yours,” Amanda says. “It’s freeing to feel like you’re not alone and at a loss anymore. We were broken, but going through this showed us there’s a reason God put us together. He’s softening our hearts. Re|engage goes beyond your marriage. It’s amazing – and worth it.”