Monday, May 13, 2013

The Marriage Retreat and Feeling Good about my Marriage

Today, I ran across a movie called The Marriage Retreat.

When a group of best friends decide to go on a marriage retreat in the mountains for no deeper reasons to relax and have a little fun, they discover the true state of their marriages and how far apart hey have drifted. Once there, Dr. Sullivan (Fahey) and his wife Katrina (Jackson) challenges them to confront their own sin to heal their relationship issues through some rather unconventional methods grounded in Biblical principles. Now with their marriages unraveling, the couples struggle to resolve their issues when relying solely on their own strength. When it seems like all hope is lost, true love is revealed and they soon discover it's not what they're not missing in their relationships but who. Ultimately, they begin their journey finding their way back to the ONE they love. 
 The movie was light and funny.  While the resolutions were a bit pat, I laughed quite a bit and shed a few tears.  It was exactly the escape I needed that night, too.  I definitely recommend it.

It got me thinking about my own marriage, which is a happy thing.  I had the incredible blessing to meet, recognize, and marry my soulmate.  Of course, a lot of people do that, but now all are still so thrilled to be married after 22 years.  As I watched the movie, I thought about some of the reasons it is so.  Here's what I came up with:

1. Engagement Encounter/Counseling:  The Church expects engaged couples to have counseling where they really discuss the big issues of life and marriage--money, kids, jobs, dreams...  Rob and I didn't have months for the counseling (I was going overseas), so we did an intense weekend called Engaged Encounter.  Amazing experience!

2.  Communication:  Rob and I are simply open and honest with each other.  It comes naturally to us.  When something is heavy, it may take awhile, but we don't harbor secrets (unless we've signed a non-disclosure agreement with Uncle Sam, of course.)

3.  "Wives, submit to your husbands."  Yeah, lots of female hackles rise at this, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.  It's very easy for me, because Rob is a man with sound judgement and the ability to look at things objectively.  I know I can come to him with little problems, like how to respond to someone who had made me angry.  I also trust his wisdom in the bigger issues.  In a practical sense, that means moving every couple of years because of his military career and sometimes, setting up house or taking care of the kids on my own while he's on an extended TDY for a class or deployed.

4.  "Husbands, love your wives."  This was one thing I liked in the movie, Marriage Retreat.  Dr. Sullivan chides the couples that love isn't just about feeling good around your spouse.  For men, that means supporting and caring for their wives.  In the movie, the husband's each had an issue there:  one with finances, one with emotional support and reassurance, and one with supporting his wife's dreams.  Rob does this very well.  When we first dated, that meant not freaking out when I told him I was taking an assignment to Italy; when we married,  working like crazy to get an assignment where we could both be (Japan, more's the pity, huh?).  He's kept us financially fit, and now that he's retiring, he's striving to find a job that will help him with his dreams while still providing for us.

5.  We are a team.  Despite the submit/support roles, it's not all one or the other.  I set rules that he follows.  He comes to me for advice.  When we get mad, we back off until we can attack the problem and not each other.  We bow to the others' common sense.  (He brings in the dough, but I do better at paying down the bills.)  We put up with each others' foibles--he needs time online to decompress; I am an indifferent cook.

6.  We laugh.  We kiss. We love.  We enjoy each other.  Marriage isn't just supposed to work; it's supposed to bring joy.

Of course, the overall thing is we recognize God's role.  He set the real ground rules and is there to love and support us.  He leads us to compassion when we are not so inclined, and keeps us on track.

 At the end of the movie, Mrs. Sullivan tells the couples that she doesn't want to see them back.  I sometimes think that Rob and I ought to go to a Marriage Encounter, but really, it's more of a nostalgia thing.  We've worked hard to build an awesome marriage. 

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