Monday, August 22, 2022

Marriage Retreat 2022

Wow!  I can't believe it's been 5 years since we started doing retreats!  Those of you who have been here that long may recall that we hit a potential impasse in our marriage.  You can read about that here and here.  I honestly don't know how we made it to over 20 years of marriage without marriage focused retreats.  This isn't to say we were both miserable but the words that kept coming up over this retreat to describe our marriage even up to this point were "lazy, coasting and complacent."  Those do not a great marriage make.  You can have a marriage better than 90% of the people you know but it doesn't necessarily mean you are giving each other best versions of yourselves.  Often times what keeps coming up in book after book that we read is how your spouse typically gets the leftovers of what you have to give after giving to everything and everyone else if you have anything to give at all.  Whether you have children or not, if you have a hectic work life, mental health struggles, you name it, life is just draining on so many levels and the person you agreed to slog through life with can be moved down the priority list as you set cruise control.  As long as no cheating, abuse, etc are going on, it's easy to think that there's nothing to complain about.  Hence complacency.  

This year we were just more concerned about getting the hell outta dodge because of the last month of never ending BS from the botched ceiling smoothing/correcting/painting debacles and the like.  (Which yes, we're still dealing with in varying degrees.)  There were some not great issues popping up in our relationship and to be honest, every workshop Wednesday we had since we got back from our anniversary trip was a total bust usually ending up with me in tears, him feeling like crap and both of us feeling more distant.  It was like we saved up the gripes on either side of Wednesday and that is not what that day was supposed to be about.  It was about setting up an intentional time to connect and work on our marriage, not grab verbal ninja stars to hurl at each other because we neglected our own relationship agreement from our first retreat.  We both agree that it's still an amazing agreement and one we don't feel needs tweaked or changed but rather...PUT INTO ACTION!  While we both feel we've made good progress on how we speak to each other and such (before the pre-reno) the fact is, the most important thing we created to have a wonderful marriage has been sitting in front of our faces, ignored, for five years.  I used to have it printed out and after a year or two of having it moved to different spots tucked away, I chucked it because it had become furniture.

But first, let's get to some pics of the much needed, much deserved relaxation.  The Mr wanted to bring the outdoor projector he got for our 25th so it wasn't a one trick pony.  While we had a few podunk internet issues, we were able to watch Minions: Rise of Gru outside on a clear night with our bug candles blazed up.

We also enjoyed some s'mores, as are required retreat treats.  (If you're a s'more maker on some on your travels, we always take these telescoping roasters which have been awesome for roasting mallows or the occasional hot dog!  Highly recommended!)  We went up early so that we could enjoy the scenery and lesser crowds at antique shops.

The place we rented was next door to a farm.  That alone makes my heart skip a beat because if there's anything we learned on our 25th anniversary trip, staying next to a horse farm brings us a lot of peace.

Sadly these were horses that didn't equate warm fuzzies to humans so they couldn't care less if we were there but it was still nice to enjoy their majesty even if from a further distance than we would've hoped for.  It's also nice to have water around and we had that as well.  We enjoyed feeding the fish who would wait to see what their take for the day was.  (I know this is going to tick some people off but meh, when has that stopped me?  😆  I find it strange that the Mr's co-workers were baffled as to why we were feeding the fish and not catching them.  Um, because the Mr doesn't need to flex his man muscles over a 6" long creature that feels pain to prove his masculinity.  Seriously, imagine going to Chipotle or wherever you like to go and biting into a burrito/whatever your favorite food is and then having a big hole ripped into your lip and expected to go back on your merry way!  Then having it happen over and over again.  Look, I come from a "huntin' and fishin'" family so I understand this is viewed as relaxation to some but we don't.  If it's not going to end up on the table, leave it be is our feeling where fishing is concerned not that you asked but there it is.)  

Anyhoo.  We also brought some goodies to enjoy.  The Mr found ChocoTacos at the store and we quickly realized why they were discontinued.  GROSS!    If you like stale waffle cone it might be up your alley but gag.  Obviously, s'mores were made a time or two.  I brought stuff for a yin yang afternoon tea.  

I like the dainty stuff like scones and macarons and he likes man stuff like summer sausage on pretzel crisps.

The book I got for retreat this year was The Six Pillars of Intimacy.  We listened to their podcast a few workshop Wednesday's and we both thought it sounded like something we might like.  It's an easy read so if you're looking for a book that isn't long and gives you a general direction to start, this could be a good introductory book.  We made the mistake of not reading the whole book before we left and while I thought that was going to be a problem, it wasn't.  I read it out loud while we were there and because, unfortunately, there weren't specific exercises to follow, it gave us talking points more than anything.  The biggest take away was that you need to live intentionally and just because you solve a problem once doesn't mean it's solved forever.  Little habits of our past began creeping in and just because it was solved at one point, doesn't mean it didn't apply to new situations that popped up.  Marriage is something we're all so woefully unprepared for going into it and this book brings that home.  Regardless of how many years you've been together, it is never too late to change things for the better.

Where last year money was our biggest focus, this year, it should be no surprise that our house was the focus.  Not the projects ahead but the act of actually cleaning it.  He came from a family where his mom did everything for him until he was about 16 and then she was like "tappin' out."  I came from a family of "pilers" and shoving things into closets when company came to deal with later.  Cleaning wasn't done unless 1) I was left a note by my mom which I understand now as an adult but loathed as a kid because I felt like it was all dumped on me after the divorce (before the divorce they were chores I happily did for a few shekels to save up for the latest Duran Duran cassette) or 2) company was coming and we needed to do a deep clean which was the only time it got done.  So neither of us had good role models on how to regularly maintain and clean a house.  We both associated it with either someone else doing it, super high stress because company was coming or having it be out of control and not know where to start.  So it's weird to be tippin' 50 and have to watch various cleaning videos and look at the discombobulated Flylady system and try to find tips and tricks that you can attempt to create your own routine around.  We're only 6 days into it and we have gotten a lot of things done that were previously ignored (I never want to clean kitchen blinds again) but we have a long way to go and decades of stuff to undo before it becomes a habit.  

I feel almost like I'd jinx it if I mentioned the relationship agreement needing to be brought to the forefront because if you read about any of our other ones, you'll see we failed every year which means more years of failing ourselves to put our marriage first than not.  We have set up reminders and read it every morning now in emails in hopes that it will somehow stick.  It has been a more loving week in general which is nice but I know how the pattern goes.  I'm not trying to shit on it all, I'm just using the history as predictor of future behavior and I hope we can find a way to change that habit.  We deserve it.  One of the exercises I wanted done was to write a letter of regret if the other were gone.  What things would we have regretted not doing?  For me, they were what seem like small things to others maybe but big to me like not being physically intimate, kissing passionately because I didn't feel sexy or not keeping a clean home especially when I quit my 'corporate' job.  Those are things I can change and rather immediately.  While I will always regret the years decades those things weren't a priority for some stupid reason, I can try to make up for them now.  

If you'd like to read about our previous retreats, see below.

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  1. It was a much-needed and relaxing time but also very necessary for us to come to the realizations of putting things into action. It is also interesting how each retreat tends to have a theme that we didn't plan going in but becomes very important to us in the scheme of things. I highly recommend this to everyone!

  2. The pictures are beautiful! I am so happy to hear how awesome the trip was and that you were able to get away and reconnect after many months of grueling work on the house and life stuff. It sounds like it was just what you both needed and each walk away with a great feeling of connection and a plan for how to stay connected every day. And it's great to hear it's been a loving week and you've gotten so much accomplished because of it!! The retreat was an absolute success on all levels -- excellent!

  3. I'm so glad you guys escaped for awhile, I love the pictures. I love that your are working on enhancing your marriage.
    I'm a flybaby for sure, its been a game changer for me. I don't get the emails but I do have the habits down. The shiny sink, the Hotspots, the swish and swipe. Its so much easier for me to keep things tidy. I always have something in my hand when moving from room to room to put away. I learned I was just not great at putting things away and picking up after myself! I actually do this automatically, not even thinking about it like on autopilot. I love that people can drop by or stay over without any effort on my part.
    It used to be someone called and were on their way over and I would be chucking things in the closets lol.
    I also don't need to take a week off of work to clean before an event at my house.
    Have a great week!


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