My favorite part of my life is my marriage to Whitney. She is my best friend and a supreme joy to be with. We both feel like we have a healthy marriage. However, right now, we are planning a DIY marriage retreat. We have reasons for doing this and goals in doing this. Let me share a few of each.
1. An Ounce of Prevention
One thing I emphasize to my church, and anyone that will listen to me, is that they ought to try to keep their marriage healthy rather than medicate their marriage. Often, as with many good gifts in our lives, we take our marriages for granted until something is not right. Whitney and I love each other and we love being married, but we know Satan hates marriages. We are doing our best to invest in our marriage now–keeping it healthy–instead of medicating it later.
2. What Lies Behind
We are on the end of the toughest year of ministry we have had so far. We have been through a few difficulties, and often I have been distant and difficult in the process! We have processed a lot of stuff already, but we feel like it would be good to do a “checkup” to readjust the ebb and flow of our relationship. It’s easy to develop bad habits we don’t even recognize are there. We are going to take time to process where our marriage is and adjust for the future.
3. What Lies Ahead
This year will be our 7 year anniversary. For many couples, this can be a significant transition. Perhaps you have heard of the “7-year itch.” I am not sure how much weight I put in such things, but I can say that our relationship and lives are radically different now than when we were first married. Further, I do know that many couples begin to feel the effects of a long time together, children, and other aspects of life during this time. Therefore, we are trying to make sure we don’t see significant issues now that Satan or our own flesh might want to use to drive us apart later.
1. Strengthening Our Marriage
Obviously, this is our basic goal. We want to come back home next week with a better grasp of where we are as a couple. We are asking God to show us areas where we need to change. We are asking God to strengthen areas where we are already doing well.
2. Being Invested In
We are taking an evening to spend with two of our mentors. This is a couple that invested in us when we were dating and early in our marriage. We are going to visit them and go to their church on Sunday. This is intentional, as we want to make sure we are being invested in spiritually on a regular basis. We don’t get to “just go to church” very often, and we get precious little time with mentors, so we are excited about this opportunity.
3. Praying and Studying–Together
I pray and study a lot because I am a pastor, and I teach/preach 4 times a week. Whitney prays and studies a lot because she teaches two Bible studies a week. However, we don’t often get dedicated time to pray and study together. We are taking time to do just that. Further, we plan to work through some diagnostic questions to help us understand our marriage and our spiritual lives better. Hopefully, this will help us grow as a couple and better serve the Lord’s people.
4. Having a Good Time
This might be the most important thing. We plan to enjoy ourselves. We want to laugh, see things we have never seen, eat good food, drink good coffee, and enjoy one another as a married couple. This is not a test we are passing, or a spiritually somber retreat. It’s a time where we are focusing on growing as a couple–and a huge part of that is just having a good time together.
We plan to stay at Ridgecrest, outside Asheville NC, for two nights, then go to Charlotte, NC for one night. Ridgecrest offers very inexpensive room rates for full time ministers. Our friends in Charlotte are letting us stay with them. We will be able to do this trip and take on very little cost. I have heard of couples doing something similar on an extended dinner date, or for one day when they had a babysitter.
If you want to see the diagnostic questions we are using, e-mail me at malexander (at) fbcgadsden dot org
This all sounds so… serious. Honestly, our personalities are not given toward this sort of thing. It’s not a natural thing for us. We are not naval-gazers or relationship-analyzers which makes it more important to set time aside specifically for this sort of thing. This is a disclaimer because, if you’re like us, you read something like this and say, “LOL. We could never do that without just cutting up the whole time or just saying, ‘this is dumb.'” Us either. However, we do find it to be important and are looking forward to lots of fun, cutting up, and reflection on where we are and where we are going as a couple.
Maybe it would be worth asking the question, “Am I investing intentionally and regularly in the health of my marriage?” This is one part of our answer to that question. Perhaps something like this would be helpful to you as well. At any rate, perhaps this blog will give you opportunity to ask the questions and begin the process of insisting on keeping your marriage healthy now instead of medicating it later.