When I mentioned to someone at our church that my husband and I had registered for FamilyLife Canada’s Weekend Getaway, she leaned in and whispered, “Are you guys OK?”
After I reassured her, she told me that she and her husband had decided to stay together and not get divorced at a weekend marriage retreat years before. Looking at this couple now, you would never guess they were so close to calling it quits. They are vibrantly in love and are leaders at our church. What an amazing story of hope and restoration! God is so good.
While I deeply appreciated my friend’s concern, I am here to tell you that this marriage conference is not just for marriages in trouble. It is for any couple committed to staying healthy, working on their communication, navigating their differences and preventing drift in their relationship.
The last two years have been hard on everyone — including those in ministry. My husband pastors a small congregation, and his role was a little bit of everything during the pandemic: Zoom expert, public health inspector, politician. So to have him to myself for the whole weekend (Sunday included!) without the kids was delightful.
The time away allowed us the space and freedom to reconnect, without the usual distractions of emails, texts and the demands of our children (we have three, 5 and under). The discussions we had throughout the weekend were focused and helped us express our feelings of gratitude, appreciation and love to one another. We were reminded of what we each need to regularly hear from the other person. We were excited to talk about the future and the goals that we have as a couple and committed to seek out spiritual friendships and mentors.
The biggest takeaway for me was the realization that it is our natural inclination to drift apart; without putting in the work, without “paddling” together, my husband and I will end up floating in totally different directions. In our phase of life, combined with the stress and demands of pastoral ministry, I can see how easily this could happen.
Throughout the weekend we also kept thinking of all the people we know who would really benefit from a Weekend Getaway — not only for those marriages that are presently in danger, but for couples who are in the throes of work and kids, where it would be really beneficial to remind themselves that they are on the same team and that Oneness doesn’t just happen. In a recent congregational meeting, it was identified that our church should pursue starting a marriage ministry, including marriage mentorship. We were excited to discover what FamilyLife Canada has to offer in this area, and will be learning more about these resources in the coming months.
I also must mention that the speakers were relatable, open and wise. I loved how they made the material engaging by inserting funny videos and anecdotes throughout their presentations. Also, the location and hotel (Elk Ridge Resort at Waskesiu, Saskatchewan) were simply gorgeous. We had visited Waskesiu before, but in the summer when the mosquitoes and horseflies prey upon every living thing. It was a bit more relaxing this time. The hotel was fancy yet affordable, and my only regret is not going down the waterslide a few more times.
The Weekend Getaway was a wonderful experience that gave me and my husband the space to breathe, learn more about ourselves, both as individuals and as a couple — and grow in relational, emotional, physical and spiritual oneness.