When my husband, Jon, and I got married, we blended our families. I had three children and Jon had three children, and then together, we had one. Even with close and similar parenting styles, bringing that many people together (seven children under the age of 13!) was ... a lot. It was complicated… and messy, and awkward, and intense, and hilarious, and wonderful, and exhausting.
Jon and I needed time together to sort out how we wanted to be as a couple, as parents, and how we would run a busy (and ever-changing) household together.
Finding time alone to have those important conversations was difficult (because who wants to babysit 7 children!). So, we started to plan our own marriage retreats that we could do anytime, anywhere.
We have found that do-it-yourself marriage retreats have been important to our success as a couple--in the easy times and the more ... stressful times. No matter the circumstances at home, at work, or in the world around us, we always end our retreats reconnected to one another and to the beautiful life we are building together.
Over the years, I have learned that there are 5 keys for a great do-it-yourself marriage retreat. Here they are:
1. Schedule your retreat.
We all know how easily unscheduled time gets eaten up by other people’s needs and the general stuff of life.
Sometimes we plan a weekend fully committed to the retreat. Other times, we plan a day or even a few hours at a time across a few weeks. We even pick up parts of our retreat when we need a bit of remediation in a particular area—a reminder of what helped us communicate better or brought us to a stronger place together in the past.
The more time we can purposefully set aside, the better.
2. Think about and write down your hopes.Before every retreat, Jon and I ask ourselves:
- At the end of this retreat, what do I hope will be different?
- When it comes to our partnership, what do I want more of? Less of?
We know that by writing down our goals, objectives, and hopes, we are more likely to accomplish them.
3. Gather your tools.Before every marriage retreat with Jon, I sit down and plan how to best use our (sometimes very limited) time together. In each retreat, I include questions to consider, exercises, and tools to check-in around five key areas:
- Conflict (existing and how to address future conflict)
- Money and finance
- Fun and adventure
(The DIY Marriage Retreat in a Box is a compilation of some of the most effective exercises, questions for reflection, and tools from our retreats.)
4. Find/create a joyful space.
Whenever possible, Jon and I find a space outside of our home for our retreat. We have a favorite vacation spot where we have enjoyed a lot of fun and laughter.
When we aren’t able to get away, we create a space in our home that feels extra special and brings us joy.
5. Your retreat is perfect, retreat as long as it works for both of you.
Our retreat is our retreat is our retreat—and there is no right or wrong way to approach it.
We enter the retreat “space” with a positive mindset, allowing us to work towards more positive outcomes. We know that if we enter leading with problems, we will generate more problems. But if we lead with positivity, with solutions, we’ll get more of both. When we feel stuck or in a spiral, we walk around, take a break, and do a few of the Connecting Conversation Starters. We are accountable for being present in our retreat with a positive mindset, and we aim to make it a wonderful experience for each other.
Do-it-yourself marriage retreats have given Jon and I the time and space to have the conversations that we want to have --and the conversations we need to have. We look forward to every retreat together, and we hope you do, too!
About the Marriage Retreat in a Box
The Marriage Retreat in a Box is a new way for you and your partner to enrich your relationship, strengthen your communication and bring even more fun and adventure into your lives. Each Marriage Retreat in a Box includes everything you need to have your own marriage retreat on your own time, in your own unique way. Through engaging exercises, learning moments, powerful questions, and conversation starters, you'll be led toward the conversations that help shape the most important parts of your lives together. Shop Now.