In a Dozen Years: Our 1st Marriage Retreat!

Nope, it’s not our wedding anniversary. It is NOT a sponsored post either. The programme and hotel looked enticing, so hubs signed up! I am sharing because this is one conference that changed both of our lives and marriage for the better.

The night before, I was just too excited to sleep well. Morning came and I jumped out ready to go for the getaway at Changi V hotel.

It wasn’t like a second honeymoon, it was just well, exciting to grow in our marriage and be kids-free for the weekend! What greeted us was the beautiful and spa-like setting with rose petals and lovely windmills which my hubs tried to blow to no avail as they were scotchtaped. lol. There was a DIY segment for photography which the team thoughtfully printed out for each couple! At first I thought the petals were decorated by the hotel until I caught the Cru staff in action with her bag of petals, effortfully spreading love on the table before our meals.

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We were shown 6 segments with plenty of living real couple sharing their struggles in the videos.  As this is a personal reflection, I will be sharing the segments and how we as a couple have benefitted from this 1 precious weekend.

  1. Love Happens (God’s Purpose and Plans)

Video takeaway: A man and his bride-to-be began quarreling in front of their conductor. The conductor makes his point.

Just like music, when each instrument performs a tune, it is beautiful. When all the instruments perform at their own time and notes, it is catastrophic. The symphony needs the conductor to orchestrate a harmonious symphony.

God must be the central conductor whom the couple must depend on to create a beautiful marriage melody.

Take it to Heart : Why did you get married?

We both ticked the boxes of reasons given.

~ Leaving, cleaving and becoming one ~

Leaving: Each person needs to leave the family in terms of ‘shifting loyalties from your parents (Or any other relationships) to a new set of loyalties with your spouse.’ This includes emotional and physical leaving. (the art of marriage p15)

Cleaving: It struck me deeply that it takes a lot of hard work to cleave – in this instance, to join together like 2 metals melted together to ‘become one’. It is NOT a natural process that occurs magically once we exchange our rings. It requires time and effort to nurture this ONENESS. I recall how our early years of ‘honeymoon’ actually had a lot of undercurrent friction that required a lot of ironing out in shifting of loyalties. More than a decade now, I am enjoying a more gelled relationship as we mature together in our couple cum parenthood.

My hubs favourite tagline of this segment is

~ my spouse is not my enemy ~

Seriously? : ) We are a team. It is not I against you. it is WE. Sometimes when we are in the heat of argument, it feels like the spouse is picking on you. It just happens that you and I are born selfish. So, like it or not, when selfish desire sets in, the spouse is not very nice to be with. Well, that is a time to remember – your partner is NOT your enemy!


 

2. Love Fades (Overcoming Isolation)

‘Unless you lovingly and energetically nurture and maintain your marriage, you will begin to drift apart from your mate. You’ll live together, but you will live alone.’ Dennis and Babara Rainey, staying close.

Video takeaway: The man thinks he is a 9.8 out of 10 in the marriage, while the wife gives 0.5 to the marriage.

The video revealed how even godly couples with great motivation experience high disappointment and struggles in their marriage. But for the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to look beyond their own selfish needs and find a resolution to prioritise each other over their own needs.

Take it to Heart: Each of us had to circle the number according to the level of connectedness we feel for our current stage of marriage.

There was also this significant question where our differences were highlighted and that helped shed light to the way we communicate with each other. Only when these areas are identified are we able to take steps to improve the situation.

Ultimately, the underlying reason for the end of a marriage is this-

‘we have rejected God’s authority and leadership in our lives.’ (art of marriage p36)

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-each to his own way.” Isaiah 53:6

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

” The gospel of Christ crucified for our sins is the foundation of our lives. Marriage exists to display it. And when marriage breaks down, the gospel is there to forgive and heal and sustain until he (Christ) comes, or until he calls. ” – John Piper, This Momentary Marriage.

Take it to Heart: These questions inquire your relationship with God and how one can take steps to change in the marriage.

The biggest enemy is not your spouse (as established earlier), but the supernatural enemy, the serpent of lies. (Genesis 3: 1-16)

~ Forgiven Sinners Forgive ~ 

As Christians, we have the POWER of the gospel to Forgive our spouse and repent.

After the above heavy reflections, we were sent off to our 1st couple project.

We discussed on an area that have caused drift in our marriage and how we can work out measures to stop the distancing.


 

3. Love Dances (Fulfiling our Responsibilities)

Video takeaway: It takes Two to Tango. It is an art to tango together. The husband leads and loves by gently taking the lead in the dance while the wife has to follow his lead. When two partners try to lead at the same time, the tug of war can be serious (where one arm is jerked off socket! according to the instructor)

The video is poignant in delivering the art of how men and women can dance together as One when each fulfils their role accordingly.

I shall just give a tip or two (from the many solid points) on how men should lead and love in a Tango-

  • The man leads by giving: the correct weight changes, clear signals to indicate change of direction, shape of body and arm and eye movement.
  • The man must not rush the lady. Otherwise she will panic and rush herself and the subsequent choreography will be ruined. ( art of marriage p51)

A couple (who happened to be my friends, hubs didn’t know they were involved in this course) shared their marriage experience tip on how 50/50 approach to marriage has failed to create the fairness they had hoped for.

50/50  house chores split according to number of items ticked, but it wasn’t fair as some chores are more time/energy-consuming. So they split in terms of time equity. But slowly resentment built up as the hubs ‘gets to go for his runs’ while she is stuck with chore. (In my mind-that sounds so familiar! raise hands if you think so too?!)

Here’s her firsthand recount:

“I grew in resentment over the chores that I had to do. Ming Hock and I were seeking equality, fairness in our marriage. 
But the 50/50 mindset was birthed out of selfishness in our case. It was for self-preservation and self-protection. 
And with this mindset,  we actually began to drift and feel isolated.
What changed was that at our 1st marriage retreat in the 14th year of our marriage, we learnt abt the myth of 50-50 and how that really isn’t the design that God has for marriage.
In marriage, there is oneness. And oneness in marriage means looking out for the wellness of each other, not fairness towards each other.
So MH and I realised our wrong mindset and began to seek out the wellness of each other. 
We still allocate our chores, but it is our heart and our attitude that has changed. We seek out what is good for each other instead of looking out for self.
To be able to do so, we really need God’s help in our marriage, to humble ourselves towards each other, to meet the needs of our spouse.” (Dawn)
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~Husbands, Love Sacrificially and Lead Gently your wife ~
~Wives, Support and Cheer your Man ~

I must say that one main reason why I married my husband is his ability to lead and his love for me. I knew if I have to support my husband in a biblical way, I must have respect for my man. However, with our women’s nature, the tendency is the desire to control. It becomes easier when we choose to support our husband because we want to obey God. Many times, it is tough to just keep quiet and follow when you sense your hub is heading a different direction from yours . During times like these, placing our faith and trust in God to govern the situation will empower us to follow the lead. When your man sees the effort and respect given, it makes it easier for him to love more and lead gently.

This segment’s videos covers practical ways on how a man should lead the family spiritually, what should a husband do if his wife will not follow his leadership and vice versa.

Take it to Heart: for each role, the husband and wife, both tick on how they can better fulfil each other’s roles and respond in their marriage.

One practical application for me: To trust my husband and refrain from nagging in a particular issue. Instead take it in prayer to our Heavenly Father when I am worried.

Commercial break here: – ) both my hubs and I took leave to chauffeur our kids to the Dreamworks Race Event that I had signed up before this retreat. Because of our very involved young adult cell and friends, we were able to return to the hotel after a few hours! We were blessed to receive babysitting support for the weekends! A BIG THANK YOU Cellies!!

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So we went to the art of marriage website and reviewed our missed video segments. This Project Two was my FAVOURITE- Write a LOVE LETTER!

Hubs spent the night time crafting his letter while I slept. I only managed to jot down my letter the next morning. This retreat was really a great opportunity for self evaluation and couple confessing, making up time together. They even gave us bands to visually remind us of our bond of love.

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Having time carved out for this project love letter meant A LOT to me. One major love language of mine is receiving written encouragement. In this letter, hubs gave his view and expressed his feelings in an important matter that we had just experienced recently. The incident fueled a thorny issue that I felt for a long time. Nontheless, this incident also humbled both of us inwardly, making us treasure each other at a deeper level. After reading his love letter, I was moved to tears. It felt liberated to know God is at work within each of our hearts because of this unhappy incident.

~Write a Love Letter ~

Since when was the last time Both of you wrote a love letter to each other?

~Learning to beat with One Heart~

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4. Love interrupted (Communication and Conflict)

Video takeaway: The wife instructs the hubs who was watching his soccer match what to get for her grocery. He agrees but forgot to take the list and returns with close to her requests items. She is upset and returns to exchange the stuffs.

~ speak the truth in love ~

~ Be fully present and mindful ~

The funny thing about this video, it actually applies not to my hubs, but to me. ; p  I must admit, unlike general examples of men doing the above, I am the one who somehow cannot pay enough attention that lasts for such details. He would tell me to remember to bring the gift that we’re supposed to take for the birthday party, and I’d forget! Then he has to U-turn and get it again. He would tell me what time and date the function he has and I will ask him the 6th time near the date the SAME thing. Somehow, my mind just wanders off when trying to ‘listen’ to his ‘mundane’ details. That said, I feared such moments as I would be at fault (obviously) and he would be ‘justified’ to be angry with me. I broke down one day. It was just too much for me. I really sincerely CANNOT REMEMBER such minute details for the life of me. It was not done on purpose. After that breaking point, he changed his attitude and helped to remind me before we go out or just do the thing for me. I felt more accepted. Now, I need to train myself to pay FULL attention when he gives such information. I will record them in my phone and set reminders.

Here, the encouragement is helping us use different strategies to communicate and even confront each other in love. I learnt finding out the WHY is more important than making offensive and blaming statements.

~the Why is more important then the What ~

We need to both reflect if our confrontation is

  • Retaliate-or-Restore?
  • Punish-or- pursue peace?

We were taught how to take steps to seek and release forgiveness.


 

5. Love Sizzles (Experiencing Real Intimacy)

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Video takeaway: A very sensual introduction in terms of our physical senses was shared by a Doctor who educated us on how the body receives tingling excitement starting from the ear lobes of the wife.

It was really an eye-opening, sense-opening video that was very tastefully and elegantly done on sex education! I kid you not. Here, this taboo topic was handled so delicately and yet sensitively. I marvel at how a satisfying sex life is a beautiful and wonderful design that God had in mind for a long-lasting union in marriage. In fact the bible has explicitly praised the wonders of such marriage intimacy in Songs of Solomons!

Take it to Heart: Rate your romance. 

‘Sex is like a thermometer… it is primarily a by-product of your relational intimacy. If there is selfishness, irritation, and frustration in your marriage, these things will come into your marriage bed as well.’ (The art of Marriage p111)

~ Intimacy begins outside the marriage bed ~

Husbands are you connecting to your wife emotionally? Wives, do we use sex as a bait/reward or punishment? Why sex is important to your wife/husband?

A satisfying sex life is built on a foundation of what? There are 4 broad foundations which you will have to find out yourself!

Personal takeaway: To actively pray for our marriage bed and make our overall health of our marriage a higher priority.


 

6. Love Always (Leaving a lasting leagacy)

Video takeaway: A short film of a couple who married for over 50years.

For this segment, I will leave you to experience the full significance in the conference yourselves.


 

Are YOU and YOUR SPOUSE ready to enter into the NEXT LEVEL of MARRIAGE INTIMACY? This conference with all the videos shown, kept us at the edge of our chair and left a visible mark in our marriage. Click HERE for a preview of the video. I strongly encourage all married couples (christians or non christians) to take part in this if you want to revitalise your marriage life.

Lastly, I leave you with the few application that we as a couple strive to live out from henceforth.

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The above is a pledge taken to renew our love for each other.

We Are Working Out Our Love by

  1. Continue with our date night weekly
  2. Hubs starts a weekly dinner with one kid per week
  3. Hubs maintain coming home for dinner regularly
  4. Hubs to pray with me on a regular basis
  5. I appreciate my hubs initiative to whatsapp me many times a day with a Hi or just give me a heart emoticon.
  6. Instead of doing my own things, I re-start the act of greeting hubs with a welcome hug and XOXO upon his return from work together with the kids
  7. Instead of chilling out on my phone, to be mindful and be present with the family once hubs returns for dinner
  8. Pay full attention to him (and record down) when he is gives me ‘things to do/remember instructions’

How do You keep your marriage romance alive? Love to hear you share your tips!

For more Love stories, click the below.

  1. I wanna grow old with you
  2. Will You Marry Me?
  3. How I met your papa
  4. We cannot ask for more
  5. Only You, You’re Unbelievable

Do check out for other upcoming conferences at The Art of Marriage : Web|Facebook 

For more of GrowingHearts, come join us at our FaceBook, Or follow us at Instagram. Lastly, you can also subscribe by entering your e-mail in the box on the top right side bar to receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “In a Dozen Years: Our 1st Marriage Retreat!

  1. Thanks for sharing your retreat experience and tips which got my thinking about how I’m nurturing my own marriage. Marriage is indeed like a tango and may we as wives follow in our husband’s lead as they are lead themselves by the Lord.

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