“We were both living a lifestyle that didn’t reflect our faith. In 2015, everything came to the surface. It felt like divorce was inevitable. We had to decide, are we done? Or are we going to do what we can to fix it?”
Rob and Christen Forsgren were married in May of 2013. While they were both followers of Christ, they had drifted off the path of faith. Christen says, “We had lots of past baggage between the two of us, we had lots of sin in our lives, and we didn’t begin our marriage with a focus on Christ.” For the first couple years of their marriage, both Rob and Christen avoided and suppressed the issues that were tearing them apart- depression, pornography addiction, and infidelity. But concealing these issues could only last for so long. In 2015, their struggles began to rise to the surface, but without a strong Christian community to come alongside them, they were left feeling frustrated and hopeless. Rob recalls, “We were growing apart. I came home from work one day, and I knew she [Christen] was distant. I knew she had been thinking about divorce. I suggested we do something we had never done before- pray together. She said no at first, but then she broke down, and we prayed.” Soon after, they made the decision to open up with the help of a counselor and join a community group. Christen says, “We aren’t designed to do this by ourselves.”
But even with the help of a counselor, Rob and Christen still felt like they couldn’t get on the same page. Christen says, “We made progress with our transparency towards each other, we set a lot of healthy boundaries, but it felt like everything had just halted as far as our growth. We were frustrated because we didn’t have good communication. We still felt distant. What else were we going to do when we had been through over a year of counseling and still felt frustrated and lonely?” In the Fall of 2017, the members of their community group encouraged them to try out Re|Engage- a program at McKinney dedicated to offering Biblical guidance and hope for marriages. Every couple in their group had gone through the program, and they couldn’t say enough good things about the ways that it strengthened their marriage. With the support of their community group, Rob and Christen joined a Re|Engage group in November of 2017.
Within the first few sessions, Rob and Christen felt a wave of refreshment wash over their marriage. Rob says, “Re|Engage has the most ‘come as you are’ type feeling. It immediately made us realize (through the stories from other couples) that everyone has their issues. It makes you view people differently. When you find out that almost everyone around you has struggled with the same or equally devastating issues, you realize this is something you can get help with.” Over time, through the deep and transparent community of Re|Engage, their marriage began to have new life breathed back into it. Christen says, “It opened the door for more conversations that I didn’t feel capable of having before. We discovered so much grace and forgiveness. But it also calls you out- convicts you. We learned there is a difference between saying you’re sorry and asking for forgiveness. The restructuring of the way we apologized to each other was huge for us. Saying ‘this is wrong, will you forgive me?’ is the heart of confession. It made a big difference in our communication. It changed our posture towards each other. Putting the Word back in the center of our relationship took our guard down for each other. We began to let go of a lot of hostility and resentment that had been pent up for so long.”
“On paper, we started a marriage that was a complete disaster, most people would have seen our marriage and said, ‘I’m done with that.’ But now we’re on the other side of it.” Rob says, “A lot of people think Re|Engage is just a class for people with terrible marriages. But it’s not just a marriage class. It’s a class to fix yourself. You are broken- not just your marriage. It causes you to be more Christ-centered; it causes you to address the heart issues.” Christen adds, “We still have different opinions. Fights still happen. But we feel so much more equipped to have productive conversations about things – even hurtful things – than we did before. I am heartbroken for married couples that don’t have Jesus in the center of their marriage. Without the foundation of why and what we do it for, the hard times wouldn’t be worth it otherwise.”
To those exploring the idea of joining a Re|Engage group, Rob and Christen heartily encourage any couple, whether they are in a healthy marriage or a struggling marriage, to give it a try. Rob says, “Your relationship with your spouse and your relationship with Christ are intertwined. If one is suffering, they both suffer. If you go into Re|Engage with the idea that you’re going to give it your all, it will change you as a person. It’s designed to dive in and realign your heart. The heart of the class is to fix you, and a healthier marriage is a side effect.”