Monday, April 23, 2012

Couple's Retreat

Several months ago, I watched the movie "Couple's Retreat".  Overflowing with Vince Vaughn's usual 800-words-per-minute banter, both Joel and I thought it was pretty funny.  Clearly not Oscar-worthy filmmaking, but good for a date night nonetheless.

So with images of a tropical paradise in my head and hilarious expectations in my mind, Joel and I headed off to the oh-so balmy beaches of Davenport, IA for the "Weekend to Remember", a Christian marriage conference that had been recommended to us by several friends.

Now, I'm not going to share the gritty details of the weekend with you because they are personal and, according to the ticker at the bottom of this page, you've all clicked on over here close to 50,000 times.  That feels like exhibitionism to me, and this weekend I learned that exposing myself to people other than my husband is a healthy marriage no-no.  Who would've thunk it?

But, with Joel's permission, I thought I would share a few things I did learn this weekend. 

1.  Davenport, Iowa is NOT a tropical paradise.
In "Couple's Retreat", the four couples are whisked off to a Caribbean island to explore the inner-workings of their relationships from the comfort of a beach-front hut.  Joel and I listened and talked until our buttcracks hurt from the discomfort of two Davenport Radisson banquet chairs. 

2.  Life goes on.
On Saturday night, ample time was set aside for a special "date" night.  And while we did take advantage of the time allowed and treated ourselves to a fancy dinner and dessert, we also found that we had ample free time before and after dinner.  And what do two parents of young children do when they are finally alone?

Nope, not that.

They shop for water pistols and pick out fabric for their motorhome.  You get your mind out of the gutter.  We will work on pulling our minds away from housework and wallpaper samples. 

 3.  Joel has no deep side.
After spending a considerable amount of time spouting forth the thoughts in my head-- thoughts about our relationship, things that I feel about myself, my fears, my likes and dislikes, list of allergies, my horoscope and social security number, it was Joel's turn to talk.  And... nothing.  So as it turns out, the guy who is light-hearted and fun-loving at face value is the same way at his core.  And I guess I'm okay with that.

Except that he's now preoccupied with the fact that he has no deeper level.  Maybe that's progress in and of itself?


4.  We're not needed.
I've never gotten to leave either of my children alone unless I was absent to birth one of them.  So having the opportunity to spend nearly three days with my husband, a person I might not have been able to identify in a line-up before, was a luxury I couldn't have imagined.  But since my sister moved to town last August, I have had much more flexibility with my time and with my marriage, and for that I owe her a huge thank you.  Now I'll know Joel's face with certainty when I point him out to the authorities.  

But when Cael emerged from his nap to find that Mommy and Daddy were home and Amy's family was suddenly absent, there was no disguising the look of disappointment on his face.  And cookie.  There was no disguising that either.  And while I suppose I could be offended by the lackluster welcome, I am choosing to be grateful that he was so comfortable with her family that we simply weren't needed.  I am going to need some of that cookie for my emotional trauma, however. 

5.  I still love my husband.
As much as I tease and joke and push his buttons, my husband is an unbelievably patient person.  He wakes up before the sun and works all day so that I can stay at home and complain about my children to you kind people.  He comes home, often when the kids are asleep in bed, and shows me nothing but a smile when he feels the wrath of my play-doh-in-the-toilet induced angst.  He dedicates almost all of his limited free time to spend with his family and to take care of our home, lovingly mowing our dog pee-stained grass and trimming the bushes that disguise a archeological dig's worth of broken toys and tangled kite string. 

One speaker said one thing that really resonated with me as well-- that the things we find irritating in our spouses are often abundances of a strength.  This means that the things that get on our nerves are the very things that once seemed so appealing when we first met.  So when Joel walks away from me as I'm busy telling him an important story, it's not because he's a bad listener, it's because he is a really good multitasker.  A REEEEAALLLY good multitasker.  And when he makes big decisions on a whim when I feel they need more discussion or planning, he's not doing it because he is impatient or irresponsible, he is simply spontaneous.  He is all of the things I always loved about him; just more.

So even though the chairs were uncomfortable and we shopped for fabric and throw pillows, and even though my husband isn't "deep" and the kids didn't miss us, it was worth it. 

Here's to the next seven years.


  1. Glad you guys had a good time! That sounds liek Lee and I---when we have an anniversary date or something we always end up doing something really unromantic like shopping for tile or something lol.

    I wonder what positive spin I could put on my husband's ability to lose his keys and/or phone EVERY morning before work? ;-)

    1. Shawna- I know! It's impossible to escape that "real life" stuff. But we had a good time nonetheless.

      As for Lee, maybe instead of being absent-minded, he's just really, REALLY focused on more important things? Maybe? :)


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.