Thursday, August 19, 2021

Rousing Retreat 2021

Another marriage retreat in the books!  I booked it exactly 3 days after our last one because I knew revenge travel was going to be real this year.  

I found a nice cabin about an hour away and Thursday we made our way out.  We were so impressed as we walked in and poked around.

The first thing I typically do when renting is wash the sheets because for some reason rental properties love to stock up on bulk store laundry detergent which is like the harshest detergent ever.  I break out in hives, can't breathe and it is basically misery so I bring my own free and clear tabs to wash as much out of it as possible.  I opened the closet where the washer and dryer were and saw a washer.  "Oh, is this one of those dual thingies?"  "Nope."  No dryer.  Are you effing kidding me!?  I throw the sheets in the washer which because there was no dryer to anchor it, bounced all over that closet and up against the pipes the owner placed poorly when it was built.  So the Mr had to babysit it so it didn't hit the pipe and cause damage.  Can we EVER just go somewhere, check in and start relaxing?? Like...EVER?  This is par for the course and I don't know how I ever look forward to travel given this is how it starts every. single. time.  The Mr set up the badminton net and I wiped down some Adirondack chairs and we got to "drying."

(Pretty sure my bestie expects first night pics like this from me every trip)

Then 20 minutes later...

So plan B was to drape them over the couch and dining room chairs with the two fans we found in the house.  That was 3 hours of dealing with the sheet show before we could actually sit down to dinner.  They were dry at 10pm.  The Mr laughed and said it was our retreat challenge and I suppose every check-in is like playing Survivor.  (Cue theme music)

One thing I cannot stand is when something is advertised and you're paying for it and it's not there.  I can understand a coffee maker breaks and you're waiting on a new one or some other small appliance.  A dryer or major appliance is another story.  I shouldn't have to travel with a set of sheets that take away room for an outfit or two over 3" of storage space for one or two tabs of free and clear laundry detergent just in case they don't deliver on what we're paying for.  Not only that but we like to come home with clean clothes and this time we had to come home with stinky campfire clothes.  


The Mr got this book as our guide since he likes to have an outline to follow.  The first exercise is writing your partner's eulogy.  I was not down with that at all so we changed it to 50th birthday party speech in a non-roasting format.  (The purpose is to write all of the good things about your spouse- tell why you fell in love with them, share stories that mean a lot to you, why you love them now, etc.)  I have to say it is a wonderful exercise to set the tone for the retreat especially when you're putting it in the spin of celebration instead of their suggestion of having their "corpse" behind you.

It takes you through topics to cover, exercises to write down and share.  Sometimes we did write things down and other times we opted for just having the discussion which seemed better for us.  Our big focus this year was money.  Well, more so retirement.  It's not that weren't not saving for it but you all know we love to travel and we purposely chose to do that traveling while we were able bodied.  I know too many people, his dad, my grandpa among them, who got to retirement age and died and they never had a retirement.  We didn't want to put our travel dreams on hold for a someday that we are not guaranteed.  We are very happy we have the travel memories we have and honestly, I have not budgeted the way I did when we were first married in a long time and I feel like we've put more money into Jeff Bezos retirement the past few years with nothing to really point to.  So that is going to be our focus and just in the few days of looking at things, it is INCREDIBLY confusing and overwhelming.  I don't know how retired people do it or where they look for answers.  (If any of you retired readers have good sources to point to, feel free to share in the comments.)  

After that emotionally draining conversation (and a short bout of panic after reading something we thought applied to us that thankfully didn't) it was time to have a little fun.

We played some badminton and sucked hard but got in a few good volleys.

We brought our vintage Jarts with us and played in the shade.

We made smores including the saddest smore ever made with the last Hershey Gold in existence from a bulk box I bought when I found out they were discontinued.

We tried to relax by the fire

We determined that "moving out to the country to escape people" is a myth.  We tried for almost 30 minutes to have a solid 60 seconds of peace with zero man made noise (cars, airplanes, power tools, ATVs, people talking 1/4 mile up the street but sounding like they were in your yard, etc) and neither of us ever got past 20 seconds.  We had to give up the quest for peace outside because it doesn't exist.  That saved us a move that would've proved fruitless because if you can't find peace on 100 acres, you're not going to find it anywhere unless we move to the Hawaiian atolls but even there you'd be coated in the world's plastic and bird shit.  

We tried to play with the sheep but they ignored us.

I'm glad we added an extra two days because we didn't feel as rushed as we did the first and second retreats, to cram everything into the night we arrived and the only full day we had.  We had three full days that weren't check in/out days and it makes a big difference.  Obviously it costs more too but with our better cashback rewards, all but one night was covered so it was a bargain.  I look at the last line of my post talking about the 2020 retreat..."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?"   I feel like we're truly there.  I mean, what tests a marriage more than a pandemic and having to spend basically 24/7 together?  This whole past year, we have done "workshop Wednesday" where we do exercises or questions from books we got to keep us connected.  Some have been quick and easy and others have been tear jerkers and gone long into the night.  I think it's important to have that weekly check in that is dedicated to your relationship and not just sitting down to talk about the horrors of the world.  I mean, have those too but it's too easy to get mired in the bullcrap and forget what the priority is.

If you're considering an annual marriage retreat yourself, please know that not being at home is the key to this being as productive as possible.  The energy of the potential seriousness of the talks needs a neutral space.  You've likely spent enough time at home this past year and beyond so give yourself the necessary mental space that is needed to focus on things and not be distracted by things at home.  

(Wouldn't you rather be here than home?)

If you're looking for some books to guide you through your first retreat, we suggest this one and this one.  If you're looking for some good self help books to begin working through your issues, this one, this one and this one are all good places to start.

Another suggestion is to book somewhere close enough that you're not spending half an afternoon driving to it and not in the middle of a tourist town (or a tourist town that you've visited before that you're not tempted to spend a day being a tourist.)  The point is no distractions.  Pick a restaurant and maybe one place to pop into and then back at it.  The place we stayed was in the middle of nowhere but there was a big town we went to Saturday morning for donuts and then back to the house.  We found an old school comfort food place about 15 miles away and got carry out from there another night.  Any other mental breaks came from doing activities at the rental including just enjoying a meal out on the porch.

(Portillo's for the win)

I'm already researching where to go for next year's retreat.  I'm not finding much luck yet but hopeful something will pop its head out and appeal to us.  I really hope the third year is a charm and we can be out of this friggin' pandemic by then and be able to focus on normal life stuff.  I can tell you that the pandemic has allowed us both a pass of sorts to not follow through because at this point you're just trying to survive other stuff but we can't do that.  If anything it's even more important to show appreciation for each other that you can literally be in the trenches together and be stronger than ever.

Would you be interested in doing a marriage retreat with your spouse/partner?

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  1. Once again it was worth it because we had great discussions and even some eye opening talks about things that needed our attention, like retirement planning, etc. Life is all about being able to adjust to whatever comes your way and, as always, we prove we are capable of that even if it means hanging sheets in front of fans to dry them old fashioned style!

  2. What a great looking place! So happy to hear it was an excellent time (dryer aside) and you guys feel refreshed. Sounds like it was a good balance of conversation and fun. Love it! I don't think we'd do a retreat. I will say the five days we spent together for my birthday were wonderful. No chores, no bills, nada. That's the best quality time we've had in a long time and he really made the whole week special. Earlier in the summer I had decided to finally make a much-needed amends to him and put my apology in a card for him. I told him everything I wanted to say and wasn't going to belabor the point afterwards, but wanted to let go of the guilt and shame once and for all and truly let that go. I felt good for owning it and I think he felt good for having it acknowledged (if not a little stunned). We had a short discussion on it and it was a turning point because since then he's been much freer with owning his stuff and being able to share that without it being brought up again for either of us. It's quite humbling to say I'm sorry without trying to over-explain my actions (aka make excuses) but so worth it to be able to let it go and be free to move forward.

  3. Replies
    1. Technically, yes we could but we shouldn't have to. We purposely rent homes for retreats/vacations that have washers and dryers because we want clean clothes to come home with and/or the ability to carry 2-2" laundry tabs with us over 1-2 sets of sheets taking away enough room for an outfit or two because they didn't deliver what they promised us. Instead, we had to come home with suitcases reeking of campfire in our clothes we couldn't wash.


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