Hi everyone! I just came back from my weekend retreat and though I was going to post about it in a wedding update, I felt it deserved a whole post of its own. Even if you aren’t Catholic or religious, there were some parts of the retreat that I thought were great for any couple vowing for a long-term commitment (well, and I suppose if you want children), so I thought I’d share.
First off, the conditions were unfortunately not ideal going into it – the week before I was fighting off a cold, work was busier than usual, I started a management/training course for the year, and people were starting to call with wedding questions. Well, the cold I was fighting decided to come to a head during the weekend, and with the super long days lasting past 10 p.m. (and coming from one that usually sleeps at 9), things health-wise were the suck.
However, these retreats were booked, and the next time there were spaces was during the wedding weekend, so I womaned up and just prayed I wouldn’t get worse. There were 2 married couples there, and the format for most of the sessions (about 9 in all) was a presentation which usually consisted of a really personal (and vulnerable) story from the couple with the priest interjecting words of wisdom, we would separate as a couple and write answers to the topic questions, and we would meet up with our partner to share our answers and discuss. There were some religious-based sessions, but most were really important to couples who are looking to marry, as it discussed family planning (and what if one isn’t able to conceive), how to deal with conflicts and forgiveness, and, of course, finances. If people are interested in some of the discussion questions, let me know and I can post them, though the finances questions were pretty basic, such as how much debt does the other have, are you going joint vs. personal accounts or a combo of both, how do you feel about borrowing money from parents, how would we handle child care expenses, etc.
What I loved the most about the weekend were two things – the Saturday night prayer and the betrothal pledge. Saturday night, in the candle-lit chapel, each couple was asked to face his/her partner, join hands and pray “The Hands of the Bride and Groom.*” B, ever the playful gent, wanted to play the hand-slap game in the beginning (O_o), but after awhile became serious and we really listened to the words. Perhaps it was because it was read with an even tone and with so much intention by one of the couples, but when I listened to those words and looked at B’s hands, I became absolutely overwhelmed with emotion. I think it was candidly the first time that I felt we’re not only making arrangements for a wedding in order to marry, but we’re entering into something sacred and special.
The next day, we also had to write a betrothal pledge, which I suppose is somewhat like a love letter and written vows to each other. This part was extremely meaningful to me, as well, mostly because I’ve spoken before how B doesn’t really say or do romantic things, but I know he loves me through his actions. Well, at first he wasn’t really taking this part seriously, so I told him there are some times to be serious, and to please be serious this time. So we separate to write our pledges, and when we met and he read his, I absolutely bawled (with happiness). I’ll keep it confidential as to not embarrass him, but I have never been so certain that I knew I wanted to marry him as I did during that moment.
He also cried a bit during mine, too, which I have never seen.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and though it was a requirement by the church, I’m honestly glad I went as I felt so much closer to him, as well as more sure that I want to marry B. If anyone wants to know more about it, let me know. 🙂
*I understand that the gender roles during this prayer are somewhat traditional and possibly antiquated to some, but I still feel the underlying meaning/message is pretty darn special.