Christian marriage retreats are key to healthy marriages. Here are the top 8 reasons why!
Most of us grow up with a fairy tale image of marriage. We’ll meet Mr. or Ms. Right, experience love at first site, fall madly in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, this pales in comparison to what actually happens for most couples. Most marriages go through a variety of peaks and valleys and continually struggle becoming one. This post will review some of the main reasons why marriage can be so difficult and why Christian marriage retreats can be so beneficial.
First, marriage can be difficult because couples are not properly prepared. It’s astonishing to compare how much people invest their time and money into preparing for successful careers compared to preparing for successful marriages. The average person probably spends anywhere from 2-6 years receiving education and training on how to be effective in their chosen profession, whether it be a nurse, architect, engineer, etc. In contrast, most couples only receive 1-3 months of premarital counseling and perhaps they read 1-2 marriage books, if that! If our income was contingent on how successful our marriage was then I’m sure we would give it the time and energy it desperately needs.
Second, many people enter marriage with unrealistic or false expectations. Many expect marriage to never involve conflicts and for love to naturally grow deeper with each passing year. Then, when tension erupts and hurt sets in, many become disillusioned and make false conclusions, such as “I must have married the wrong person” or “I must not really love them.” Others may falsely believe marriage is all about getting served and having their needs met. While getting one’s needs met is an important part of marriage, it’s often much more about serving your spouse and sacrificing your interest for theirs.
Third, we are going to inevitably hurt our spouse and they are going to hurt us. How we respond to that hurt is paramount. “Be angry, and yet do not sin….” (Ephesians 4:26, NASB). Most people respond in unhealthy ways when they are hurt by erecting barriers to protect themselves, which quickly dissolves tender areas of intimacy. The more of these walls are built, the more unity of the marriage dissolves. Learning how to remain vulnerable and believe our spouse has our best interest in mind is difficult and goes against our natural bent of selfishness and self-protection, yet is essential for oneness.
Because we are prone to drift in the wrong direction, we must continually be reminded of healthy, God-honoring approaches to marriage. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19, NIV). Just like a car must be regularly serviced to ensure the motor continues to run well, so too must marriages receive regular tune-ups to ensure they continue to run well. Here are eight of the top reasons every couple should consider attending a Christian marriage conference. Thankfully, there are several to choose from, including the Colorado Marriage Refresh which I designed and co-lead with my wife. It is filled with Biblical principles, marital research, clinical experiences, and the peaks and valleys of our own marriage.
They give you the necessary training needed for a successful marriage. Similar to continuing education requirements most professions require to stay competent in the field, marriages need continuing education through Christian marriage seminars to stay successful.
They provide realistic expectations of what marriage is like, both the good and the difficult so couples know what to expect and how to handle challenging times appropriately when they arise.
They create a vision on how to develop a God-honoring marriage. For example, couples should be encouraged to view marriage as a covenant vs a contract. A covenant says I’m married for life except for the three A’s of adultery, abuse, or abandonment. “….What God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6, NIV). In contrast, a contract says I’m married to you as long as I’m happy and my needs are met.
A couples' workshop will help you learn essential skills on how to work through past wounds and pockets of unforgiving in your marriage. Healing past hurts is an essential piece to reconnecting and developing true intimacy because we can’t be vulnerable when we’re filled with resentment.
You’ll learn how to better manage conflict in order to avoid the extremes of stonewalling on one side and exploding on the other. Instead, you’ll learn how to constructively discuss difficult topics by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV).
You’ll learn essential skills on how to cultivate emotional and physical intimacy and how they are linked. For most couples, the physical flows out of the emotional because most women cannot become physically bare until they are emotionally bare first.
You’ll have uninterrupted time to spend with your spouse during the marriage encounter without the distraction of kids, chores, electronics, etc. Just time to relax, work on your relationship, and reconnect.
You’ll experience comfort knowing you’re not alone in your marital difficulties by seeing all the other couples there for the same reason as you. Furthermore, you’ll develop a sense of hope that there are solutions to the challenges you face and things can get better.
As you can see, marriage is not easy. In fact, our “throw away” culture encourages couples to give up quickly when things get tough in order to find someone better. However, God’s heart is for us to cultivate lifelong marriages so we can grow deeply with our mate and truly become one. Moreover, marriage is one of God’s greatest tools to refine us to become more like Him so we must allow challenges to mold us into His likeness. The possible causes of marital strife are plentiful; however, Christian marriage retreats can give you the tools necessary to develop a successful marriage. Make attending a marriage seminar a personal goal this year. Take time to invest in your marriage like you do your career. As all things in life, we get out of our marriage what we put into it. Stop putting your marriage 3rd, 4th, or lower on your priority list. It should be number two right after God. Also, if you have children, remember one of the best things you can do for them is cultivate a healthy marriage because when mom and dad are happy, the kids are usually happy. A Christian marriage retreat will help you heal old wounds, develop deeper intimacy, and breathe new life back into your relationship.
Share this article with others!