The Best Thing We’ve Done For Our Marriage All Year
I remember thinking it would be easy.
At least until we had a few little ones crawling around we would easily find time to invest in our marriage. Right?
No baby sitters required for date nights right now.
For those of you who are not married yet, allow me to let you in on a little secret—kids or no kids, it’s not easy.
When two sinners move in together, conflict and selfishness show up too. And at least in our experience, when two people’s schedules merge, quality time quickly gets lost in a sea of distractions and responsibilities.
Have you ever had an experience you didn’t know you needed until after you had it?
That is exactly how I felt after David and I got back from our yearly “Eseke Marriage Retreat” a few weekends ago.
To be honest, nothing was necessarily wrong with our marriage before—we’ve actually been in a pretty great season lately. But after spending a weekend intentionally praying, planning, and spending time together we came back feeling even closer, more connected than before.
It is amazing how much a little quality time together has impacted our relationship—even during a season when it has felt like our marriage doesn’t necessarily need extra work.
The idea to take a marriage retreat came from one of the leaders of our premarital class at church, whom we admired. They were sweet to each other and had darling, well-behaved children—it was almost as if they had figured this whole marriage thing out.
They explained how taking time to rest, reconnect, reassess, plan and pray together was one of the best things they had done for their relationship.
Each year during their retreat, our friends would talk through a series of questions related to their marriage and family.
They answer questions like:
- How had God blessed us this past year? What prayers have been answered?
- What have the events of the past year taught you about God, yourself, or your spouse?
- How are we doing spiritually? How is our prayer life? Time in the Word?
- How are we intentionally serving those in our community? How can we improve in this area?
- Where and to whom do we want to give our money? Are we giving enough and being faithful in that area?
- What does our budget look like? What needs to change? What are our short-term financial goals?
- What do we want to commit to in terms of health and exercise?
- What are our plans and goals for next year? What vacations do we want to take? What hobbies do we want to cultivate? What do we want to learn?
- Who will we specifically pray for and pursue to come to know the Lord?
After hearing their advice, my husband and I couldn’t help but wonder if something similar might be good for our marriage.
So, last weekend, David and I got an inexpensive hotel in Fort Worth (about 30 minutes away from where we live) and spent the day by the pool, talking through similar questions. And I have to say—I agree with our friends.
It is the best thing we’ve done for our marriage all year.
It was a small sacrifice of time and money, but it was a giant investment in our relationship.
We came back home refreshed and feeling even more connected than before. Even more than that, we are now in sync on our goals and plans for this year because we actually made time to discuss them. It was incredible how prioritizing each other—above our schedules and other obligations—injected a new energy into our relationship.
I would recommend a marriage retreat to every married couple I know.
David and I keep all of our Eseke Marriage Retreat answers in a journal so we can look back on what we have written in years past. We carefully selected an embroidered, black leather one. (Every time I pick it up, I picture future little Esekes giggling about how weird their great-grandparents were.)
We brought this book with us on our retreat.
Even in year two, the best part about our retreat was looking back on the way we answered our questions the year before. It is amazing how much we have grown and changed. It was worth the effort to plan a retreat, just for the opportunity to slow down, reflect, and thank God for the way He has blessed us this year.
I’d love to challenge you to plan your own a marriage retreat.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. These conversations can happen at the breakfast table or even over a long walk. (Although, D & I tend to be long-winded and overly analytical so ours usually takes the entire day!)
Not married? Consider getting together with your community to reflect on the year and collaborate in challenging yourself with new personal goals for next year.
Let me know how it goes! I’d love to know if you have any advice or tips on creating a great marriage retreat.