Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Marriage Retreat 2020

We booked our retreat for this year about the same time last year.  Obviously, we couldn't foresee that we'd be swimming in a pandemic stew so we did consider whether we should cancel or not about a month before.  Bottom line, it was in-state so we wouldn't be spreading our potential cooties to another state, the county is actually safer than our own, and we desperately needed a change of scenery.  We would be in a secluded cabin with minimum runs for takeout just like we do now.  

If you read about our previous retreat, you can see that we had a problem with sticking with our relationship agreement.  This year was no different and that sucks because we literally had the time to stick to every single thing with ease if we were making US a priority.  I felt the weight of the pandemic crushing my soul.  Anyone will tell you that spending 24/7 together isn't natural.  I think when he goes to work, he gets that interaction he needs and I get that time to myself that I need as well.  He's literally above my head all day long, not that he's loud but it's a constant presence I'm not used to.  You all living through it with your spouses both working from home can probably relate to what I'm getting at but can't articulate.  You put that on top of seeing how many couples are like "screw you, I'm not spending another pandemic filled day with you" and getting divorced was kind of scary.  You throw in the reno, his new job, and months of studying for a certification he needed to keep his new job and I felt like they were all potential powder keg situations if I pointed out our failures on the agreement front.  So I did exactly what I shouldn't have done which was made myself small in a corner where I could bother no one.

But back to the retreat.  We agreed a thorough cleaning plan needed to be executed before bringing our stuff in and every surface would need to be cleaned regardless of what the owners claimed their cleaning people were doing.  (After getting there, I knew that was the right call as you could write your name in dust on the blinds and some less used surfaces.)

(Came prepared, yo.)

Before we were able to check in, we drove by an antique store that was totally empty of people and got to wander around alone.  It was the first time we felt "normal" in months.

(Pic 2:  Rude)

We drove around a bit, grabbed some takeout for lunch and had several hours to kill with nowhere else we were really comfortable going to.  We found a park and took a nap for a bit.  We got a half baked pizza from a shop that got good reviews and after our cleaning spree was done, we baked it up.  Here's a bit of the cabin.

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We dipped our legs into a WAY too hot hot tub and explored the grounds a little before then napping again and looking at the stars before bed after a long day.

I brought two books with us.  One I already read but gave to the Mr to read so we could do the exercises together and the other I was reading while he read the first one.  The first book was a little hard for me to follow because I like my books in a certain order as far as exercises to reinforce what I just read in the chapter instead of waiting until the end.  I also had trouble feeling like it was the Mr's job to fix my unfinished business from childhood and vice versa.  The more I read of my emotionally immature parent book, the more defeated I felt on being able to have what I always thought a "normal" relationship with my mom would look like and I realized my dad just leveled me emotionally.  I always knew this but I also thought my mom and I were incredibly close but we were bonding over things that were not emotionally appropriate at that age and I also felt I needed to step up to be the strong one since she wasn't back then.  (Now she's gone to the other end of the spectrum to "not be a doormat.")   When the Mr finished the first book, he too came to some realizations, like everyone in his family was in competition for his dad's affection including his mother.  This was something that changed his perception of things tremendously.  

Before moving on to the exercises in the book, we needed to take a little mental break.  There was a nice yard there so we played cornhole with a set they had in the garage.  We also brought some old school Jarts.  The good kind with METAL on the end that people with common sense could use without impaling themselves.

We started our foray into the land of food delivery service and while that didn't work out for many reasons as a long term solution, it was perfect for us to have something to bond over.  I am the meal prepper in the house and sometimes it's draining because as soon as we come up from 45-60 minutes of working out, I go directly to making dinner while he watches YouTube or reads.  I think he now understands just how much work can go into taking that on especially when I'm just as tired as he is after a workout.  We've committed to cooking one meal together each week.  I'm hoping we keep that deal.

The next two days were going to be the meat of the work for us by doing the exercises in the back of the Getting the Love You Want book.   I'm not going to lie, there were tears shed but also laughter, lots of good talks and acknowledgement of areas we suck at like consistency.  Obviously, acknowledging it is one thing, actually changing it is another.

It was all pretty mentally draining and sometimes we had to take a break for a nap 

or get in a coloring session before regrouping.

This year is profoundly different for all of us and I think we all went into the pandemic with some pretty lofty goals.  Some of them we did and others we intend to do but don't have the energy.  I would say I could cut myself some slack on that front given those circumstances but that's a big fat excuse.  If our relationship is important, we will do what is necessary.  I don't care if I have to set up reminders on email until we get into a consistent rhythm where we don't need them.  Whatever it takes.  After a shaky few days upon our return, we have already done a few things on our priority list including making a meal once a week together.  I am hopeful for the future.

I know things are a bit off but I need the distraction.  Just before we left, I got a horrible rash from tearing down morning glory Gossamer out front and having poison ivy like blisters and itching from face to knees doesn't make one want to cuddle up.  But I also know, the more we let any kind of meaningful intentions slide, the harder it will be to get any of them back.  The fact is, doing these retreats puts you in a whole other frame of mind because you're not in your home and you're more receptive.  Sounds crazy but it's true.  But when you come back and the house still looks like shit and you're both still scrolling ignoring each other, it starts to feel like "well, that was a waste."  Change is HARD.  Marriage is WORK and anyone who tells you different is lying or in denial.  It takes work on both people's parts and a lot of old habits and mindsets are right there to make you feel like true change isn't possible.  That's when you need to dig in harder and tell all of you and your partner's baggage to eff off.  Even the people with the most idyllic childhoods will find there are behaviors and learned coping mechanisms that are not serving them or their marriages.

We've already booked our spot for next year.  The lady is super nice and funny and has made it her mission to make sure we have 'dance naked in the yard' privacy.  (Did I mention at this year's cabin there were tenants that shared a driveway with us that was not mentioned on the website??  Nothing like doing s'mores in front of their porch.  Yeah.)  

I'm looking forward to it but I'm more looking forward to being able to truly say "damn, we made a LOT of progress this year, didn't we?"  

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  1. I'm glad you got away! I know some couples are struggling with 24/7 we time. I'm glad you are working on your relationship, that's awesome.
    Have a great day!

  2. I am so glad we did get a chance to get away for some real change of scenery. But also it was great to work on our relationship and regroup a bit there. I do feel like it will stick more this time so that we can be proud of ourselves next year. Oh and bring the Jarts!

  3. It's good you got away to feel like you could breathe and not see the same walls day in, day out. There's a serenity in nature that I think can naturally bring out honest conversations because the pace is slower, the visual stimuli isn't as fierce and there's a quietness that you don't realize is missing in the everyday world sounds of traffic, music, construction, etc. You guys have found what works for you and are committed to keeping that going and doing the work needed so truly move forward with greater understanding and intimacy. That sounds like one heck of a productive getaway you can feel great about!


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