#38 - Attend a couple's retreat with Sam.

Sam and I decided a looonnnggg time ago not to buy cards for each other (on any holiday) because we just can't justify spending $3+ for something we glance at then throw in the trash a day or two later. (Does anyone recall the Seinfeld episode where Jerry fought with his girlfriend about this?) We're practical people - not so much sentimentalists. Though, I do think we both have it in us, if we'd dig a little deeper. After all, we wrote hundreds of letters to each other that first summer we spent apart in college.  If I didn't think he'd kill me for it, I'd share a snippet or two here.  He was Ovid and I was...hmm...it's a lot harder to think of a female poet who wasn't either incredibly depressing or didn't gas herself in an oven.  I'll get back to you on that...

I think the overwhelming point is that over the years, Sam and I don't feel the need to "woo" each other with a greeting card or fancy language.  I think the important thing to remember is that maybe every once in a while, we still should - just probably not on Valentine's Day out of principle.  The day after, with 50% off V-Day items, would be just fine.  We aren't just practical.  We're cheap.  And we're comfortable with that.

With that said, just the other day, Sam demonstrated his love for me by U-turning on Watson Boulevard just to buy me a coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.  And I know how much he loves me because he got me an Xtra Large.  (Have you ever seen those cups?  I think it's about a gallon of coffee.) 

And with all of that randomness off my chest, I am happy to announce that I have completed another 101 list item. 

#38 - Attend a couple's retreat with Sam.

In a word - it was awesome.(But maybe you had to be there...?)

The weekend was lead by Steve and Debbie Wilson who were so incredibly open and transparent about the daily struggles and battles within their own marriage that it made us all feel a little more normal.  Or at least made us all realize how messed up we all are.  It's not just Sam and me.  PHEW.

We were blessed enough to get to hear them for a two-part marriage conference on Friday night and Saturday morning, then again on Sunday morning as special guests in our most-awesome of Sunday School classes.

The marriage conference message came from their book The Six Mosquitoes, a look at six of the most common pests (if you will) that attack and suck the blood out of our marriages. I'm going to share these six mosquitoes with you now.  (Of course I am - it's a list!)

1.  Busyness
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
They iterated the importance of saying no and simplifying life.  They told us to ask ourselves the question, "Am I planning my day or is my day being planned for me?"  The biggest, most lasting thing I took away from this mosquito was this:  Say no to good so that we can have great.  Good is the enemy of great.

2.  Irritability
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.  See if there is anyh offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.  Psalm 138:23-24
Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward.  Psalm 127:3
Steve and Debbie went out on a limb to say that in every couple, there is one partner with a temper.   They said, lacking no candor, if you are the one with the temper...Grow up!  Jesus is tired of the behavior.  He speaks to us with a still, small voice.  How will we hear if we are kicking, screaming, and pitching a fit?  I know, for me, this was a "2x4 to the forehead".  I am the irritable one.  And I am the one with the temper.  Convicted!

3.  Thought Life
I brought you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners.  I said to you: You are My servant; I have chosen you and not rejected you.  Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you:  I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:9-10
While men and women speak at very different rates per day, we think at about the same speed.  They gave us a statistic - that 70% of our 1700 words per minute of thought are negative.  And some of us (cough, cough), probably have a higher percentage.  We are to hold our thoughts captive as we are our words.  We can't do it alone.  We need to enlist the help of the Holy Spirit.

4.  Drifting
Consider it a joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-4
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
It happens slowly, then all of the sudden, years down the line, you realize that instead of two people becoming one flesh, you're back to being two people, roommates sharing a house.

5.  Financial Debt
Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens:  They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn:  yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds! Luke 12:23-24
They encouraged couples to pray for 48 hours before making a big financial decision.  They also said, if you are ever in doubt about an expenditure, don't.  As for tithing, they reminded us that God doesn't want our money, he wants our obedience.

6.  Inability to Forgive
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?"  Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times."  Matthew 18:21-22
A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.  ~Ruth Graham  (Isn't that the truth?)

What a blessing it was to hear the truth, even when it stung.  I love that.  I know that marriages were blessed that weekend.  I know that it was no mistake that each of the couples were there.  And even though it has literally been months since this happened, it is on my heart daily.  To anyone who was there, you know I am not doing justice to the guidance they gave us.  Steve and Debbie Wilson are most definitely God's marriage workers.  I don't know what the fall will bring, but I hope to be able to attend the Fall Festival of Marriage.  Even the healthiest marriages shouldn't turn down regular maintenance.

So that's that - #38...you've been checked (for months and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it.)


Melissa said...

I agree totally. It was nice to hear every marriage hits a wall in the first years. We hit ours and made it over.

Denise said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend for you two love birds. We've married 29 years (Easter Sunday in fact) and have never been to a marriage retreat. I would LOVE to attend one but have never been able to convince my husband to go. Sigh. Isn't it wonderful that God has blessed this couple to help other couples and that you got to check something off your list? Way to go!!

Debbie said...

Jennie, I love all of the advice from your retreat. I am the one with the temper, and God HAS told me to GROW UP. Seriously... ugh.

I am going to take a few notes from this.

By the way, I feel EXACTLY the same way about cards. I'm notorious in my family for not wanting to buy them. I keep thinking that I ought to go into the greeting card business myself since people pay so much money for the things.

Want to be my partner?
You could do a "Mom Things" series. I'm not at all sure what I would bring to the party but greed, though.

Sharon Kirby said...

OK, so I'm out of touch for a few days and all of a sudden you're Polly Prolific?? :)

I love it!

OK, I'm terrible. I love getting cards, and I like buying them. Yes, they're terribly expensive, but I'm just a sentimental sap. However, if you and Debbie go into the greeting card business, I'll join you. What would I bring to the table? Hmmm...maybe a wicked sense of humor.

Seriously, Jennie - I enjoyed this post. I loved how these are called the mosquitoes in marriage. Mosquitoes are so annoying. I can vividly remember camping one summer - and at this one campsite, the mosquitoes were like locusts. Legions of them attacked me. The "Hub" wasn't attacked as much at all - he's not as sweet as me.

Anyway, I can see how those little suckers can ruin a good time - and a good relationship - insidiously and quickly. I'm bringing along my marriage swatter...


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