Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sometimes In Marriage We Need to "Retreat"

Written from MOSCOW, Russia:  I love being here even in the middle of winter and look forward to the continued ministry this trip will help me and my church do in the coming months and years. And while I'm anticipating the next few days visiting churches and seeing wonderful friends, I already miss home and my wife Jackie.

And I know that even being gone just a little more than a week, she and I will need some time to catch up, get reacquainted and have some space for ourselves. It will be tempting to just launch back into life the way it was before I left. However, I've learned over the years that Jackie and I must continue to be intentional about OUR time, too.

Thankfully, early on in our marriage we began a couple of practices that we continue as empty-nesters some thirty three years later. We plan marriage retreat times. They generally come in two forms. The first kind happen on a more regular basis. We find a time during most every week to just have time for us. It can happen in little bits, too, and often does. However, we've found it important to have a larger chunk of time as well.

So most recently we take Mondays off. I know not everyone has that option but the day isn't that important. However, we try to get out of the house, go hiking or do something interesting together that we wouldn't do otherwise. If the day doesn't afford something like that we at least go have lunch and even run errands as long as we both agree that's what we want to do.

Because we anticipate those days off we work harder at finding new places to go and things to try. Yes, sometimes weather will limit what you can do. But that means that you simply find something to do indoors. And you don't have to spend a lot of money to keep things fun. We do find it's important to do something that gives you a chance to interact along the way and to talk about things. Some of the things you talk about are big deals and others are not.

However, that's why we don't go to a lot of movies on Mondays because we can't talk doing that. The important things is that you get to connect in a meaningful, focused way, reminding one another that they really do matter. Have you seen that beer commercial where the woman keeps asking the man which he would choose - her or something else? He keeps saying he would choose her until she mentions his beer. When he hesitates she leaves and for good reason.

Making time for each other reminds us that we won't hesitate when it comes to the importance of our marriage relationship.

Our second retreat idea however is a little more involved. We've found that we need a longer time together as well each year. We try to get away for an extended time, both for our own relaxation and to talk about the bigger picture of our marriage and family. Over the years we've talked about everything from having children to how to better teach them. We've seen some of the biggest decisions we've ever made germinate from a discussion over dinner or in a hot tub.

I'm a pastor today because of one of those discussions when we asked each other, "What have you always wanted to do that you've never had a chance to do?" One of my answers was to attend seminary. If our marriages and families are going to be all that God intended and what we'd hoped, we can't leave the results merely to chance. As the old adage goes, we don't plan to fail, we just fail to plan.

So make a commitment to "retreating" in your marriage and parenting. Get away and talk about everyday life and about the years still ahead of you. Make regular time for each other and talk face to face, uninterrupted as much as possible. The dividends will be well worth the time you invest in each other. It could literally change your life for the better. And by the way, those dates and retreats are lots of fun, too.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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