I think that the ideas contained within this post are going to be most useful within marriage itself. However, it is something that couples might be able to start planning for from being engaged.
Here on Huggie-Wuggie, I recently posted a link linking to an external blog post, talking about the importance of having shared goals. The basic idea is that a couple should sit together and establish some shared goals for their marriage that they should keep working towards, This external post is very powerful, and I highly recommend reading it. However, I have to admit that I felt a little nonplussed on reading it – why did I not think of that?! I was thinking about it, and trying to make myself feel better, I concluded that my own blog posts say quite similar things, just that I had not quite managed to articulate it in those terms. And then I thought to myself that I would hopefully have eventually come up with the idea myself. It just seems so obvious for the way I think, especially with my ongoing emphasis on building a strong foundation for your marriage.
And then yesterday I watched this episode of “Marriage Today” by Jimmy and Karen Evans. (I watch this programme as often as I can for its Christian, Bible-based advice on marriage.) In this episode, they shared the idea of an annual “Vision Retreat” with your spouse, to evaluate how you are doing in the marriage, and to specifically plan for the year ahead for a number of different goals. Jimmy also suggested that you could pray intensively for your kids, if you have any (or if you want any, I guess!) And once again I was a little annoyed with myself: Why did I not think of that?!
So yes, I do believe that these are two very powerful ideas. I love the idea of establishing mutual goals to work towards from the outset. I also love the idea of booking a retreat with your spouse, minus the kids, to go off and talk through these areas, and see how you are doing within the marriage. I guess it would also give both spouses the chance to air issues on their heart. And then again, if you dedicate a few days to this, then you could spend the first few days talking, (or arguing! – I’m just being realistic!) And then you could spend the rest of the time reconnecting with one another, focusing on one another, rekindling that spark, just enjoying being with one another. So these retreats could almost be like annual honeymoons.
A few funny thoughts have just occurred to me. I’m thinking that these retreats could be times of remembering and celebrating aspects of your marriage that have already happened, while also embracing new aspects of your marriage and new characteristics of your spouse. Perhaps you could read through diaries for the past year, and share things that you are most grateful to your spouse for.
This was what was really funny: I thought perhaps you could do something like this for your actual initial honeymoon – and then I thought – why not just have a prayer honeymoon?! (I must admit, I’m kinda making myself laugh a lot in thinking about this!) So you’ve been building up towards the wedding, and now you’re finally married! Does it not make sense to spend the first week of your marriage, of your partnership doing absolutely nothing else but praying to God for the sake of your marriage, dedicating the coming years to Him that He might work through you and through your partnership?! And then you can spend perhaps an additional week (…or more!) chatting, getting to know one another, taking pictures or whatever else people do on honeymoons! To me it does make sense! Now it is only a matter of persuading my eventual husband. (Now let’s just hope that he does not call my bluff and decide to dedicate the entire first year to nothing other than prayer!)
So I am really hoping that if and when by God’s grace I get married, these ideas will be expressed within our marriage. Especially concerning the vision retreat idea, I’m thinking that one big challenge faced in modern life is the fact that everyone is so busy, so even with a whole blog full of excellent intentions, it can be very easy to just let life overtake you without leaving a lot of time to focus on your marriage or your spouse. It can be easy to start taking your spouse for granted, and to forget those subtle nuances that make them so special and so fascinating. Just taking a few days each year gives you a chance to rediscover those quirks, for instance that seriously cute smile promising that hint of mischief, or that naughty gleam dancing around his eyes. You know, stuff like that! (Yeah, I’m all about cute smiles!)
Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
Photo of telescope from Pixabay