We just back from our church's 6th annual marriage retreat. Anthony and I have been on the planning committee for the last 5 years, and it just gets better each time!
We are so blessed that our church invests so much into growing strong marriages. We have actually had a historically "older congregation" until about 7 years ago. A fantastic Honeymooners class was created and that class has grown from 3 couples to over 75 couples! We've had to split the class once already (some of us graduated to the "Young Marrieds" class that was created due to the large number of newlyweds) and are looking to split yet again. Our church likes to keep the classes "small" so they remain intimate and discussion-friendly. Plus, when you get too many people, you inevitably have a harder time connecting with others, specifically outside of your little "group."
Anyway, because our elders and ministers value strong marriages, they restarted an old tradition of marriage retreats for anyone who is married. For only a small (to the couple) fee, you pay for a weekend away- room and meals included. The church subsidizes the rest and it is amazing!
The last three years we have gone to Hyatt Lost Pines. We are there Friday afternoon-Sunday afternoon. All meals and both nights at the resort are covered. It's an insane deal!
Some of you might be thinking, "Ummm, holding hands and discussing feelings and sitting around in your cabin is NOT my cup of tea. No thank you." And you know what, it's not mine either!
This is really just time with your spouse and friends and a weekend away. We have had excellent speakers (and men of all ages have loved the speakers, so it's definitely husband-friendly) over the past years. They give you straight, Biblical principles to apply to your marriage (no talking about feelings, no holding hands, no pointing fingers, etc). It's always funny, enlightening, and applicable.
There is hanging out with friends, meeting new friends, card/domino games, resort activities, and LOTS of free time with your spouse (which we spent getting pampered at the fabulous spa!).
The food is phenomenal and no kids (new babies excluded) make for a perfect weekend!
Sadly, I took not ONE picture all weekend. Oy.
We had 75 couples this year- with a waiting list! It's so amazing to see how it's grown and how much it blesses people. This is probably one of my favorite weekends of the year!
Anthony's sweet parents came in on Friday to watch our kids and Jay and CK couldn't have been more excited! We knew they were in great hands all weekend are beyond thankful that they are willing to watch our little ones. They also know how important it is to nurture a marriage and are always so great to let us spend a little time together.
After a fun time Friday night we passed out at 1130. We woke up Saturday morning and I looked at my phone in disbelief- we slept until 7:50!!!! I think it's been years since we've done that! I was actually a little embarrassed to tell people how late we woke up! Ha!
Saturday morning we are a ridiculous breakfast, had great sessions, a yummy lunch in the gorgeous weather, then went for a long walk, shot some hoops, watched a flag football game, then headed to the spa. I got a glorious mommy massage and felt wonderful. We played dominoes with friends, ate a fantastic dinner, had another session, then hung out with some of our best friends.
Sunday morning was our last session and a short church service. Anthony said a beautiful prayer during the service. And it's times like those that all of the silly stuff gets put away (the bickering, the irritation over little things). When you get to see your husband (and a relatively new Christian) being a leader in the church, it's just magical. I was sitting by my best friend Courtney who knew both of us very well in college. She knows Anthony's journey as a new-ish Christian (but always a good guy). She leaned over to me as he finished and said, "I get emotional every time he leads prayer. It never ceases to amaze me." And I totally agree.
It's fun for me to look back at our years together and see how far we've come. We were such different people in college. Our priorities were so off, our hearts in the wrong places. As we have grown up over the years, we have grown together in our faith. I'm so thankful that we can look back at our first marriage retreat and laugh at how far we've come.
I'm so very thankful for this weekend each year and so very thankful for our church family. We truly are blessed beyond measure.