Okay, I should be completely honest, my husband and I are a touch overdue for a retreat.
It has been some time since we experienced a spiritual weekend getaway with other couples, but nevertheless we still hold on to many of the lessons learned in our last one. We anxiously look forward to participating in another one in the very near future.
For me, the “idea” of the retreat itself creates particular emotions and expectations, which can strengthen the relationship before the couple ever arrives to the destination. Every action leading a couple toward this type of experience has already created a desire for healing in a relationship.
The moment a couple learns of the retreat can easily become the very beginning of a marriage-altering discovery. Whether the event is facilitated through the couple’s church or if someone else who cares about the marriage shares the details, the information is planted, stored and up to the couple to use or not. Usually there is one person in the marriage who is more excited than the other and that’s just fine. More than likely that has been the situation with other areas of the partnership as well. The beautiful piece here is that even though the other person isn’t as excited, they are still willing to participate because it will gratify their partner. What a true definition of sacrifice. This sacrifice, again, is only the beginning. Through every phase of this process there is an opening for transformation.
Let’s examine it even further.
Once a unanimous decision is made and both partners are willing to attend, it’s time to register for the event. At this point various emotions are surfacing, ranging from excitement to doubt and fear. Couples aren’t sure exactly what to expect so the situation seems a little frightening. The significance is both individuals agreed the relationship may perhaps benefit from this type of activity.
Next is planning and re-arranging schedules to create time to focus on the marriage in this way. Scheduling babysitters and making other arrangements allows others to witness the serious commitments a couple is willing to make for the health of the marriage.
Preparation and packing immediately follow. As couples decide what to bring, they are looking for items to make them the most comfortable. The whole time they are picturing themselves participating, which means they are already open to trying the new ideas that will be presented.
After planning and packing, the couple is on the road to the retreat. This alone time allows the couple an opportunity to converse and discover the other’s anticipation about the event ahead. It should be used wisely.
As the couple enters the retreat and notice the other couples in attendance, a sense of unity is created as this becomes a great opportunity to feel even further connected. Observing the connections of other couples can stir up certain feelings and desires for one’s own marriage. Either they will witness more of what they do wish for in their relationship or what they desire to have less of.
Once the retreat officially begins, and most of us don’t even realize it, we have already connected with our spouse on so many levels. The retreat itself actually becomes the icing on the cake. From eye opening exercises and reflections, to realizing we aren’t the only couple experiencing certain challenges, allows us the opportunity to leave with more than we ever imagined.
We receive immense reward from the actual retreat itself, but I advise not to miss the blessings and benefits that occur before. The message not to be forgotten is that both people were willing to stretch that extra mile to gain further insight about one another and collect new ideas on building up a marriage.
Do you and your spouse regularly attend marriage retreats? What is your favorite part?
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