Without a doubt, I just spent one of the most emotional, delightful and exhausting weekends with my husband of almost six years. We were married in Reno on May 25, 2002. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was so afraid to go on that journey because of the fears of a repeat performance. My first marriage had ended in 1999 with a generic "walk out" on Easter Sunday. Knowing I was coming close to committing myself to someone who might just find a reason to do the same thing to me caused my fears of abandonment to peak with intensity.
Bryan literally drug me out of the house that fine morning in May, as I was having a mini melt-down, and put me in the car for the long drive to Nevada. Most of my family was already en route, and so was his. He is a man of his word. He wasn't going to back out on me or anyone now!
Our trip this past weekend was strange. The similarities between this trip and leaving town to get married were uncanny. I began to fear things again. I didn't want to learn about my faults. I didn't want to find out what I had to change to be a better wife and mother. I was afraid that I'd learn things about myself that were really bad. I was anxious that my husband might find out something about himself and realize I wasn't the right one for him after all this time.
I started thinking about all the reasons why NOT to go. I drug my feet. I got defensive so I'd have an excuse to blame someone else, namely my husband, for causing me to change my mind. We were going to have a Weekend to Remember whether I wanted to go or not! He honked the horn three times. I finally got in.
We bickered for the first half hour on the road. I can't stand it when he honks the horn at me. The only reason we stopped, was because I was embarassed that we'd end up fighting in front of our friends as they were getting in the car to go along with us! I told Bryan we'd wait until that night to continue our conversation. I grinned that little wicked grin at him... he grinned back. He knows one of the things I tend to do is BEGIN a tough topic right about the time his head hits the pillow. I probably sound like a car honking.
Weekend to Remember is put on by Family Life Ministries. I had heard about it for several years, yet didn't have much interest in going because I sort of felt that our marriage was going to be whatever it was and I didn't have much say in it. I told Bryan I wanted my Christmas present to be a trip to this conference. It was the best thing I ever asked for. I don't know if he specifically GAVE me the gift, as I went online myself, bought our tickets myself and made the room reservations myself, but having his blessing WAS a gift to me. He was going! I was elated!
So why was I so afraid of actually getting there? I continue to confuse myself.
The first night we touched on two really gritty subjects. Why marriages fail and different types of communicators. I learned that my husband is a "land the plane" communicator - he wants to get to the point with the least amount of turbulance possible. I, on the other hand, enjoy the ride. I might as well relax, because taking the trip is what it's all about, right?? I also tend to share my feelings, where he shares just the facts because emotions tend to interfere with good thinking. hehe!
A couple of really good things came out of that night. I began to understand how to listen with acceptance - which I had always confused with agreement. Now I know I can do one or both, and still have a civil conversation in the car. I also found out that everyone is guilty of extramarital "affairs". They are merely an escape from reality or a search for fulfillment outside of marriage. Now I've never had a sexual affair or a fantasy affair, but I have been VERY guilty of an "activity" affair, meaning busy things and stuff and social things got in the way of my paying utmost attention to my marriage relationship. We were beginning to sense oneness in a new way.
Wow, what a day. After coming to the complete realization that marriage was designed by God, and was made to help couples experience oneness, I found out that it can't be done without mirroring God's image. I was SO glad that my spouse agreed to come along for this ride. Without him believing in the same things and believing in me, we can't ever experience ultimate oneness. I love this!
We spent some quiet time writing a love letter to each other, which included committments and affirmations. I cried. It was so sweet. His letter was 2 pages, double spaced. I hadn't seen that much feeling from him in a long time. My letter to him, however, was single spaced and three pages long. Remember what I mentioned earlier about our communication styles? Ha!
There were many other topics that day.
Leave and cleave. Check!
Resolve conflicts. Check! Well, ok - so we're still working on this one. Ok - a LOT!
Ask forgiveness. Check.
Multiply a Godly legacy. Check. Well, we got the multiply part right anyway. We practiced.
The discussions on sex in a Christian marriage were amazing... and downright hilarious. My sides hurt from laughing so hard.
We closed out the afternoon early to have a date night. It was required homework.
No sooner did we get out of the safety of the conference center than the bickering began. Man, my nerves were shot, and my eyes were tired. We decided to go see a movie. The parking lot was a good place to tell Bryan I was ready to go home. Too bad, he had the keys!
Fool's Gold was a great movie to lighten things up a bit. The dinner at Red Robin shortly afterwards helped too. But, I honestly think the Mai Tai did the trick. We went back to the chalet, and spent some precious time in the hot tub soaking our worries away and watching the stars in the freezing cold.
Bryan got up and made us pancakes and farm fresh scrambled eggs for breakfast. The Vermont Maple Syrup was a hit with our houseguests. The six of us packed up and went back to the conference center for three more sessions that would prove to be the best yet.
Women only! During the session for just us girls, I came to the stark realization that submission isn't flopping over like a dead fish and letting yourself get walked on (can't really picture my silly stubborn mule-head doing that anyway) but it's more like giving up your desire to control! Hey, I can do that! Um... for a minute. *grin* I desperately want to be a submissive wife, but somehow, God made me just a little on the obstinate side. I like to say I'm submissively challenged. This weekend helped me see where I can adjust the things I do to help my husband be the leader of our family. I now have more tools to be able to teach our children just how to be a respectful and loving family member. I can help be a better example of a Godly wife.
I am a HELPER! God is a helper too, so you know darned well that my role is pretty valuable!
During the last couple sessions we began to see how to truly be enthusiastic encouragers to each other. We committed to generous forgiveness and extravagant love. It was almost too much to handle. I thought my brain was going to explode. I needed a nap. I needed a hug. I needed a cry!
Just when I thought I couldn't handle all the mind-boggling things I was still trying to digest, the speaker (who was FANTASTIC) asked us to stand up - right where we were, and face our spouse. Now I don't know about you, but I get the giggles when I'm nervous, or whenever I have a staring contest. This wasn't any different. But, once I realized the seriousness of the situation we were unknowingly entering, my nervousness turned to raw emotion.
The tears started welling up in my eyes before Bryan even began to speak. And as those vows, the same ones I'd heard almost 6 years ago, started coming from his lips, the tears started to freefall. I felt so silly standing there before him crying and looking like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. My eyelashes barely got damp at our wedding, what was wrong with me? His eyes burned into me - and I knew he meant every single word he was repeating. What I was feeling was quite beyond words.
Wouldn't you know it? They gave me a turn too. I was SO not prepared for this. I didn't quite get the first phrase out correctly, so I snuffled through another giggle. Then: For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. To honor and obey. *snicker* I spoke all the rest with a quivering chin and tears dripping from my face like a leaky faucet. My dear, sweet husband just gave me that adoring look, and let the tears fall from his eyes as well. It was such a precious, innocent moment that I almost feel ashamed even sharing it.
We closed out the entire event with a prayer for each couple that had attended. We stayed facing each other, my head on his chest, and his chin on my head. It was the best feeling in the world. I felt safe. I felt powerful. God was truly IN our marriage and I could sense it. I felt better than I had the day I said "I do". So to the world... I say BRING IT! We can get through anything!