This past weekend, David and I attended a marriage retreat that our church puts on in Franklin, Tennessee every couple of years. Every time we go on trips like this without kids, whether it’s a week long vacation or a weekend getaway, we are always reminded of how important this time alone together is. It is not only important for our marriage, but for our family as a whole.
I’d like to share a quick recap of the weekend, then I’ll dive a little deeper into why I believe moments like these are so crucial to the success of the husband and wife relationship. If you scroll past the weekend stuff and just glance at the pictures, it won’t hurt my feelings, because the last part is where the good stuff is.
Marriage Retreat – Franklin, TN
Every two years our church has a marriage retreat in Franklin, Tennessee for married couples within the congregation. This is our second time participating in this event and it is always such a great way to get away, child-free, for a couple days and work on our marriage.
David took half of the day off on Friday and we made it into Franklin around 2:30 in the afternoon. I wanted to stroll around downtown Franklin for a little bit before the first retreat session started at 7:00 that evening.
The first place we stopped was an adorable little coffee house called The Frothy Monkey. I got a “Garden Party Latte” which had house-made earl grey syrup and house-made caramel. It sounds a little strange, but I think this was the best latte I’ve ever had!
We spent a couple hours walking around downtown and hopping in and out of shops before heading to Puckett’s for an early dinner. If you’re ever in the Nashville/Franklin area, be sure to hit up Puckett’s! Their “piggy mac” (BBQ mac-n-cheese) is to die for!
We were thankful that some of our dear friends, Greg and Ashley, were on this retreat as well. After the Friday evening session we hopped on over to the restaurant that’s attached to the hotel we were staying at to enjoy some appetizers and dessert. It’s always great to sit and chat with them, especially when there are no children interrupting!
On Saturday there were retreat sessions until about noon, then the rest of the day was “date night.” We grabbed a quick lunch then went to McKay’s, a giant used book store in Brentwood, TN. Everytime we go through Nashville, David mentions going there but we usually decide against it because it’s either too far out of the way or we don’t want to fool with taking kids in.
David could literally spend hours in a book store like this, but unless it has a coffee shop like Barnes and Noble, it’s just not my jam. So I dropped him off to browse the store and I went down the street to get a pedicure. Win-win!
We spent the rest of the evening shopping at Opry Mills and grabbed some dinner at the Bavarian Bierhaus. We don’t eat German food all that often, but we decided we’d try something new! I’ve been on a pretzel kick so of course we had to try their pretzel with bier cheese and it was without a doubt the was the best we’ve ever had! I wish I could have bottled up that cheese to take home.
The next day we had a worship service at the hotel. I am always blown away by the a cappella singing when I go on retreats like this. When I was growing up in the youth group, the singing was always my favorite part. No one needed a song book or words on a screen. You sing from the heart. It moves me nearly to tears every time.
After service we checked out of the hotel (I highly recommend the Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin, TN. Beautiful hotel, great location) and ate lunch at Chuy’s before heading home to get our girls.
Investing in your marriage – why it’s important
If you ever have the opportunity to get away with your spouse for a weekend, or even just a night, without kids, I strongly encourage you to take it. Even if you don’t have kids, do something that’s out of your routine and forces you to focus on each other.
This is why:
If you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s this: The greatest investment you can ever make for your family is investing in each other. Your children need your marriage to be strong. Your children need to know that you are on the same team. Your children need to see your love for each other, in action. (If you don’t have children yet, think of it as building a foundation for the future.)
By strengthening your relationship with your spouse, you are teaching your children more than you probably realize. You are teaching them what a biblical marriage looks like. You’re teaching them how to live out a marriage in the way that God planned it.
You are teaching your daughters how to be a good wife. You’re teaching them how to submit fully to their husband and that when you have a strong, biblical marriage, it’s not only easy to submit, but also desirable. You are an example of the little things that make your husband’s life easier, and that this, in itself is a show of love.
You are teaching your sons what to look for in a future wife. You are showing them what it means to love and trust and honor your husband by the way that you treat him and the things that you do for him.
You are teaching your sons how to be good husbands. You are teaching them what true sacrificial love looks like. You’re teaching them how to love their wife as Christ loves the church.
You are teaching your daughters what to look for in a future husband. You are setting an example of the godly characteristics they should look for in a man. They say that daughters marry men who are like their fathers. Be all of the qualities you would want your daughter’s husband to have. Be the example of how they should expect a man to treat them.
I’m not trying to paint some 1950’s picture of marriage here. I don’t think that the biblical plan for marriage is for men to work and for women to stay home and cook, clean and raise kids. In fact, my love language is “acts of service” so when David does the dishes (especially without me asking), I feel his love more in that moment than with any flower arrangement he’s ever sent. He understands this, so he makes doing little acts of service like this on the top of his priority list. This is one of the ways he shows me he loves me without saying it.
The word “submit” gets a bad rap in society these days. People view it as being less important or belittled, or even being dominated by another. But Ephesians 5 does not describe it this way, and it wasn’t until recently, when I took a dive into Ephesians that I truly understood the concept of submitting to your husband. It’s easier to wrap your head around God’s entire plan for marriage when you think of it in the context of trying to be like Christ, which is our goal in everything that we do.
When you get down to it, it’s actually a beautiful, cyclical relationship.
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Eph. 5: 24
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Eph. 5:25
The Marriage Cycle
Husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church -> Wives submit to their husbands because they respect him and trust his leadership -> His love grows -> She trusts him more -> He loves her more -> and so it goes.
The more you do your part, the more he does his part. If he loves you with the sacrificial love that Christ has for the church and you love, respect and trust his leadership fully, then you’ll end up with something so strong, faithful and passionate that even the devil himself won’t be able to break you down.
I want to plug this in as well, in case you happen to be in a marriage where your husband does not show the type of godly love that is described to us here and in 1 Corinthians 13 – Submit anyway. Yes, I’m sure it’s hard. But this is what God tells us is the best way to win him over. 1 Peter 3:1-2 tells us this:
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the Word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Show them Christ. Live out Christ in the way that you treat them. Pray for them. [If you are in a marriage like this and would like to talk, please message me and I’ll be happy to help in any way that I can, even if it’s simply praying for you.]
Investing your time in each other and building a strong relationship that’s built on the foundation of the Word can prevent your marital relationship from losing it’s flame. When you are both invested, affairs and divorce are less likely to happen, and your children will have a wonderful example of what true love and a healthy relationship looks like. You don’t want to be the couple who goes through life putting their children above their marriage, then when their children move off to college, they realize they’re not in love anymore. Do everything that you can, at every step of the way, to invest in your marriage.
Ways to invest in your marriage
- Individually make a list of needs, then discuss them together. (They may actually surprise you.)
- Do everything you can to meet the needs of your spouse.
- Take time to get away. Send the kids with grandparents or a babysitter and get out of the house. If you can’t afford to go anywhere at the moment, ask someone to watch them for the weekend and just stay home.
- If you’ve got time away from kids, be sure and do something that’s out of your normal routine. Don’t sit at home and watch TV and look at your phones. Put distractions aside and focus on each other.
- Make time for each other at night after the kids are in bed. You both may be exhausted, but even an hour of time spent together without phones can help prevent falling into a relationship rut. (I’ll admit, this one is the hardest for us.)
- Find out each others’ love language, and do everything you can to speak that language.
- Do little things that show the other person you love them – leave them notes, bring home their favorite candy, do little things that will somehow make their lives easier or take something off their plate (like when David does the dishes.)
- When you have time to yourselves, talk about other things besides work and kids. Dig a little deeper.
- Find some sort of recreational activity that you can enjoy together. Our favorite is golfing. On the golf course we can keep it light and goof off a bit, but we also find ourselves just talking about random things. You may find this same enjoyment in bowling, playing arcade games, playing putt-putt, fishing, hiking, running, biking, etc. I encourage you to find your thang.
- Build each other up – in the home and in public. Never put the other down, especially in front of other people.
- Love each other with all you’ve got. I encourage you to sit down and dissect 1 Corinthians 13 and all of the characteristics of love. Then take those characteristics and apply them in your relationship with you husband.
This actually started out as a “Life Lately” post with a short recap of the weekend and a few little outings we’ve had with the girls lately, but the words regarding marriage kept coming to me, so it turned into something completely different. I hope you found it encouraging. The concept of pure, biblical marriage is beautiful to me and it’s something that everyone deserves to have. It’s not easy, but I do believe that it’s possible if you invest your time and you heart into it (I elaborate on some of the ways to invest in your marriage in this post I wrote last year about ways we strengthen our marriage.)