My husband and I are taking a marriage course, and it’s better than a marriage retreat! Here’s what we learned so far. This is your chance to go on a marriage retreat without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Our marriage course is seven weeks long, on Sunday evenings at Lynn Valley Full Gospel Church in North Vancouver, BC. It’s awesome – it’s like a mini-marriage retreat every week! It’s free, and volunteers prepare a buffet dinner for us. We sit at tables set for two, with candles and jazz music playing, and we focus on our partners. We don’t sit in a circle and discuss marriage issues in front of everyone – it’s not marriage counselling.
After dinner, we watch a DVD by Nicky and Sila Lee, who are the hosts of this Christian marriage course. They discuss all sorts of relationship issues, from communication to resolving conflict, and give us the chance to discuss their information in relation to our own marriages. There’s homework – which most marriage retreats don’t offer! I’m not a big fan of the marriage homework, but we’ve been doing it every week.
Tips From Our “Marriage Retreat”
Here’s what I learned so far from this marriage course…
It’s far better to focus on your husband’s strengths than his weaknesses. You can’t do anything to change him, and it’s frustrating to dwell on his faults, so stop it! Instead, think about what he does well and what you appreciate about him. What do you love about your husband? You don’t need a marriage retreat to focus on the positive things he does and says.
Conflict in marriage is inevitable because we’re different people. You and your husband have different backgrounds, priorities, desires, personalities, and opinions. You can’t force your hubby to see life or issues or problems your way, but you can learn to live in peace. If you don’t feel like you can resolve conflict together, read these signs marriage counseling will improve an unhappy relationship.
Forgiveness is essential in marriage because hurting each other is inevitable. This marriage retreat taught us that no matter how much we love and respect each other, we’ll accidentally hurt each other. It’s just part of being human, of sharing lives and living together.
We need to share our hurts, leading with “I feel …” statements. When I first started writing about love and relationships, I learned the importance of saying “I feel scared when you come home late” instead of “You are always late! What’s wrong with you?!” Again, you don’t need to go on a marriage retreat to practice sharing how you feel – not what your spouse does wrong.
You’re on the same team as your husband. I learned this before taking the marriage course at Lynn Valley Full Gospel Church, but I am grateful for the reminder. Bruce and I love each other, and are striving towards the same things. We don’t want to hurt each other – we want a peaceful, happy, healthy life! We’re on the same team. Do you feel like you’re on the same team as your husband? If not, maybe it would be beneficial to go on an actual marriage retreat with him.
Resolving conflict is a skill that takes practice. Marriage retreats offer a chance to practice conflict resolution skills, which is exactly what this marriage course is giving us. This may be the single most important thing you do with your spouse: learn how to argue effectively, and agree to disagree.
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A healthy marriage can improve how you cope with everything else. “Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole,” writes Timothy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. “If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength.”
Another way to go on a marriage retreat and not leave your house is to read books about marriage. It’s not as exciting as getting away for a “real” retreat, but books about marriage can do more than save your marriage. They can change your life. I have more tips on how to go on a marriage retreat without leaving home, but I’m out of time. I have to go meet Bruce at the library – and I don’t want to be late.
If you have any thoughts on marriage retreats or marriage courses, please share below. I’ll wrote more about going on marriage retreats without leaving home soon. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts on how helpful (or harmful) marriage retreats are to you.