Weekend Retreat

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.

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32 thoughts on “Weekend Retreat

  1. I’m Catholic but didn’t participate in the pre-Cana sessions before I got married. It sounds like it was a wonderful experience for you both! I’m happy this made you even more sure about your partner, I know that sometimes talking through the more difficult stuff can be tough on a couple but sounds like you guys came through with flying colours! Congrats.

    • Thanks Lindsey! Some of the topics would have been tough had it been the first time, but thankfully we already discussed them. Did you marry in the church? I know my SD Catholic friends had to do the same thing, but perhaps it differs regionally. 🙂

  2. Sounds like a really great retreat! It’s nice to confirm your feelings of love and commitment. So cute that B cried– I probably would be a mess at something like this. I’m such a sap. Looking forward to more wedding updates. And you could probably write a whole post on those questions (which I am interested in).

    • Thanks M! Indeed, it made me even more sure that he’s the one for me. 🙂 Sure, I will post the questions, thanks for your interest (I just didn’t want to seem like I was trying to convert people or something, which I’m not!)

  3. These retreats sound like a great idea for engaged couples whether they are religious or not. I think it’s wonderful that you now feel closer to B because of it. Such questions around finances and having children are definitely worth exploring before getting married so it sounds very useful and practical in that sense!

  4. That sounds awesome. We didn’t do anything like this prior to getting married, though I suppose there’s nothing stopping us from just doing it now. I’d love to hear more if you are open to posting the details.

    Way to woman up through the sickness. Feel better!

  5. Neither my hubby nor I are religious and didn’t get married in a church so we wouldn’t have done something like this (not that I’m opposed to it in anyway, to each their own). However, we had dicussed everything that we thought was important to discuss (family, kids, finances, etc) before hand and after 5 years of being together I knew he was the right person for me.

    That was very sweet that B cried, and you never know how he’ll react at the wedding either. My hubby was bawling before and during the ceremony while I was smiling the whole time 😉

    Sounds like it was time well spent.

    • Thanks Morgaine, it was indeed! That’s awesome that you and your hubs had such a strong foundation going into marriage – I think that’s definitely important! Aww, that is adorable that your hubs bawled during the ceremony – how sweet! 🙂

    • Thanks Eva! Yeah, it was for sure a great retreat and time well spent – I wasn’t too into it, but once I opened myself to the process I really got a lot out of it. 🙂

    • That’s a great way to describe it – I agree things felt “clean” and some fears dissipated! Thanks Clarisse, I’ll for sure post more wedding updates soon!

  6. How adorable! I have a feeling my boyfriend would act similarly to B – he loves to goof around, and for the most part, his actions are what matters. He used to say really cute things when we first started dating, but according to him he’s “ran out” of those now, or feels unoriginal. I really like the idea of writing love letters to each other. Glad you made it through, and I hope you’re feeling better now.

    • Thanks EM! Haha, sounds like B and R would be great buddies – but I agree it’s the everyday actions that matter. That’s funny that he says he “ran out”… B just puts things on repeat and hopes I won’t notice. 😉

  7. Sorry to hear your had to to go to your retreat under the weather but it sounds like it was more than worth it. You two went into the retreat in such a good place and it sounds like you came out even stronger with some very powerful and loving memories.

    • Aww, your words mean a lot, thanks Shannon! Indeed, I felt we became stronger through the process, as well, and hope to be just as amazing at marriage as you and your husband!

  8. I few of my friends went to this type of retreat before their wedding, and your story only adds to the good accounts I’ve heard about it. I miss going on retreats in general when I was really involved with my ministry. No matter the religion, I think it’s just a good idea to step back from the real world and really reflect on your life.

    Glad you two had a great time and I hope you’re feeling better, Anna!

    • I agree Lisa – a lot of my friends had positive things to say about it, and now I can see why! It’s for sure a great place to really reflect if life goals are aligned with one another!

  9. Retreats like this sound awesome. I had an opportunity to go on a work retreat to our retreat center 3 hours north in upstate NY a bit and I loved it. I love going to a place where you think, journal, talk with one another, and try to avoid TV and computer access.

    • Agreed Tara – we still had access to our smartphones, but for the most part it was nice to have some quality time since we’re both on the computer a lot. That’s awesome you had experience at a retreat center, I bet you learned some great dialog/journaling techniques from the experience!

  10. Sounds like you guys really had a special moment. I think retreats (religious or not) are a great way to stay connected to each other. We all get so busy in the day to day, that it’s easy to forget or look past meaningful moments.

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