Last week Debbie and I were able to get away for a couple of days and have our very first Marriage Vision Retreat. Just the two of us. Yeah, I know. I didn’t know what it was either, until recently. And to be honest, I was a little skeptical, …and here’s why.
I know more about visionary leadership than the average bear. I’ve been to conferences about vision, heard great leaders teach about vision, taken classes about vision, and read books about vision. Believe me, I’ve got knowledge and experience on the subject. So much so that I’ve grown a little tired of the word.
This much I know: when an organization goes through the process of creating vision, they’re establishing where they’re going, and what their preferred future looks like. It’s artistry in the sense of painting a picture.
So when I heard about a marriage vision retreat, I thought “We’ll probably write a vision statement together regarding our marriage, frame it, hang it on our bedroom wall, and then forget all about it.” It’s one of those things that sounds good and looks good, but in a few weeks, it won’t have much relevance in our day-to-day lives.
And furthermore, whenever we go away for a couple of days (which is rare), I just want to have fun and relax. I didn’t want any homework!
Well, I’m happy to report that my skepticism (and less than stellar attitude) was unfounded. When the workbook first arrived in the mail I was struck by how small and simple it was. A huge, thick, overwhelming workbook it was not.
On the first night, we went to dinner at the Cracker Barrel. We each had the roast beef dinner, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, green beans, fried apples, biscuits for Debbie, and cornbread for me (just in case you were wondering). After we finished off the fried apples, we started talking through the material.
Instead of burdening us with tons of material to read, it had us discuss all of the major components of our life together: money, jobs & careers, sex, spiritual growth, extended family & friends, fun & recreation, service & ministry, health & exercise, etc. It asked us to discuss three things in each area:
- What is your vision for this area of your life together?
- What are your goals?
- What are the action steps you need to get there?
Simple questions, but not so simple to answer. This was going to take a couple more refills on our drinks.
Well, I’m happy to report that over the next day and a half, we talked through most of the material and it was worth every effort. And yes, we were able to have some fun together as well. In short, here are my take-aways from this first time event in our marriage:
- We have a deeper sense of teamwork. In all the areas that really matter, we’re walking down the same path together; which is why I chose the image above…in case you’re wondering. I’m often amazed at how quickly we can end up walking down different paths in any area of our life, and that was slowly occurring in some areas. So it feels great to merge back into the same lane.
- We understand each other a little better. The material led us into meaningful conversation, which we always need more of. Debbie even surprised me with some of her answers. After 19 years of marriage, I learned some new things about her, which was worth the cost of the trip…and then some.
- We’re excited about our future. Not just the future, but our future. Talking about our preferred future actually made me more enthusiastic about “us”. Regardless of what happens in this crazy world, we have us; and we are worth investing in because God has incredible things in store. Our marriage is a top priority and the most important earthly relationship.
So, allow me to offer a challenge. What is your preferred future together as a marriage couple? Take some time talking together and painting a picture of what that looks like.
I say all that to say, give it a try! No excuses. You won’t be disappointed.
Click here for more information on the material we used for our retreat.