I have other things (lots of them!) I should be doing, but I wanted to get down my thoughts on the marriage retreat before I forget (not that I'll forget them, just that I'll forget to write about it!!).
I really feel like it's so important to get away now and then, just the two of us. Away from the house, the kids, the responsibilities that get in the way of seeing your spouse, and just focus on your relationship. Not that you can't do that every day, but it's certainly a lot easier to do so when all those other things aren't in the way. And you certainly don't have to have a marriage in crisis to go to a marriage conference/retreat! There's always something you can learn (or re-learn!).
Aaron took off work early and we arrived almost 2 hours before supper. Should have taken a nap but MAN Law & Order (the original with Jerry Orbach) was on!!! That's what happens when you don't have cable at home! ha
After a delicious prime rib buffet, we hit session #1. He was nice...this time around! Not so for the next day:) He talked about the 5 Purposes of Marriage. We have to make the decision to either drift in our marriage or the align with God's design for marriage. Will we do what comes easiest (avoid rifts and stuff feelings)? It certainly isn't the easiest thing--having a good marriage the way God intended it to work! He said something very interesting (the first purpose of marriage is Partnership)--self-centered autonomy has been the besetting sin since the beginning of time...we work against God's plan when we're selfish! Why did Eve eat the forbidden fruit? Because she was being selfish! Why did Sarah give her maid to Abraham? She was being selfish! Why did Jonah run away from Ninevah? He was being selfish! Why did Peter deny Jesus? He was being selfish! You get the point. A partnership implies more than one person. I can't have a working partnership if it's all about ME.
The second purpose of marriage is Protection. The speaker used I Corinthians 7:1-8; 23-28 (an interesting passage!). Anyway his point here was that the husband is to protect the wife's holiness & honor as a wife is to protect the husband's.
The next two points didn't require many notes--Procreation and Pleasure ;)
The 5th point was Problems, Pressures & Pain. Each one of us arrives in marriage & walks down the isle with a suitcase--baggage. It's pride versus humility; the world versus Christ. The unity candle is so symbolic, but I think that gets lost in translation. I became one with Aaron in every way that day almost 8 years ago. I guess I should say I should have become one with Aaron in every way that day. I should have left my selfishness at the altar with that unity candle. I should have left my pride. He left us with this question: What annoys me the easiest in my marriage? What does that say about ME? I get too busy pointing out all the selfishness and annoying traits in Aaron and forget about all the selfishness and annoying traits (what?? not me!) I possess !! The whole "speck in your brother's eye and plank in your eye" concept.
Day 2, he hit us HARD! He gave a great message to the husbands about being leaders. Then he gave a painful message to the wives about submitting. Submission has become a dirty word today. Thanks to the feminist movement, Biblical submission has been maligned and misinterpreted. Biblical submission (like that referenced in Ephesians 5) is an earthly demonstration of the beauty of God's agape love to the church (which is, after all, the model for marriage--Christ & the Church). Agape love loves no matter how unlovely, undesirable--love shown to the loveless so that they become lovely (that's a loose quote from someone he said...can't remember who!). Submission isn't a dumb decision, it isn't a menial, demeaning position--it's an intelligent choice, a God-honoring position! In verse 24 of Ephesians 5, the key phrase is as unto the LORD. I don't submit to Aaron because I want to get something in return. I don't submit to him because he's the perfect person and is always loving to me. He doesn't "beat" me into submission. I submit to Aaron because 1)God tells me to do so; 2)it's a way to submit to Christ, through Aaron; 3)it honors God and my husband. I've found that it's very hard to explain this whole concept to a non-believer. You have to see submission through the eyes of Christ and His love for us. One thing the speaker said was to stop listing what Aaron hasn't done for me and start listing what Christ has done for me! A very interesting point he made was that Satan can't touch Christ, so he tries to get at the earthly replication of that Trinity relationship--Satan is completely invested in destroying the church. What better way to destroy the church than to go after marriages--the very replication of Christ's relationship with the Church! When I refuse to submit to Aaron (in big AND little things), I'm giving Satan a foothold in my marriage! How scary is that?!?
Aaron & I talked about submission after the first session Friday night (before it was addressed). We both said that the greatest examples of submission we both saw growing up were our grandmothers. Not that our mothers weren't submissive to our fathers, but the generational difference had a big impact on how that played out. And I also think every generation can say the same thing--our grandparents probably saw more of it in their grandparents' relationship than their parents, etc. Our parents grew up in the 60s and 70s--big feminist movement. Where as our grandparents were young married's in the 40s and 50s--the "Leave it to Beaver" era. I don't recall Grandma Mary ever disagreeing/arguing with Grandpa in front of us. And on the other side of things, I saw Grandpa do things all the time to help Grandma out--clearing off the table, helping put away food/dishes, fixing things around the house, building things for her. She was the epitome of a servant leader and he was a great example of Christ's love. (obviously they aren't perfect, but I saw some great examples of a Godly marriage in them and my parents. Praise God for that!)
I knew I was going to get hit over the head with submission this weekend. I struggle with it! I mean, S T R U G G L E!!! And what really hits me is when I see the same behaviors mirrored in my 4 year old. *breaks my heart* I want Anna to see her daddy as a man strong enough and brave enough and smart enough to conquer anything! Which he IS! Nothing like seeing our ugly, sinful ways slap us in the face when our children mimic them! If Aaron is supposed to be the leader of our family, he can only do so if I submit to him and allow him to lead! He can't lead if I question every decision he makes or if I don't even give him the chance to lead. He can't learn to be our spiritual leader if I don't allow him to do so. He can't learn to be our financial leader if I don't allow him to do so. Etc. etc. etc! Servant leadership isn't popular with the world. Saying that I want to rearrange MY schedule with Aaron's needs forefront in my mind is looked at as so backward. But seriously? That's the only way we're both going to be happy because that's the way GOD designed it!!
I'll leave with this: Love is the state of will we have naturally for ourselves, but learn supernaturally to have for others.