November 4, 2012

Marriage Retreat at the Beach

My heart is so full after this weekend.  A few weeks ago we saw an announcement in the church bulletin about a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Retreat. We have both loved the retreats we've been on in the past, so we figured we would sign up and go to grow closer to each other and to God, even though we didn't know anything about it.   Little did we know how much better this retreat would be than anything we've ever experienced in the past.  

Thomas is a sweetheart, and he came home early from work with gorgeous flowers for me on Friday to kick off the weekend.  We then headed off together on a road trip to the beach.  

We went in with few expectations and no ideas of what the retreat would be like.  I am so, so glad that we decided to go.  We left feeling inspired, touched, blissful, and more in love than ever before.   I am so thankful we were able to spend an entire weekend together having intentional, intimate conversations.   

From the moment we got there, we felt so welcomed by everyone.  When we pulled into the parking lot, there were volunteers there to greet us and help us bring in our luggage.  Everyone was so friendly, and we immediately felt comfortable and very excited about the weekend.  They took a picture of us when we registered, and I of course had to be the one to ask if they would take one with my phone.  Once we got inside, they told us to turn off our phones for the weekend (woops!).  We shoved our phones into the bottom of our suitcase for the rest of the weekend, and I am really grateful they had us cut out all distractions because it enabled us to focus all of our attention on each other.  However, I did snap a few pictures with my camera because the beach was gorgeous and Thomas was handsome. :) 



This was unlike any retreat I have ever experienced.  We learned a new way to write and verbally communicate our feelings with one another.  After each presentation, we were given the opportunity to separately write love letters about our feelings.  We then joined each other in our room to read and discuss what we had written.  It was absolutely amazing to spend so much time becoming so vulnerable with one another to talk about our feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears.  It was really satisfying to feel completely accepted and respected, and it was so nice to have the time to talk with each other as opposed to a group discussion.   

We had a gorgeous view of the ocean from our room, which made for a very calm and peaceful setting for discussion. 






There were so many things that left us feeling touched this weekend.  We were inspired and encouraged by seeing so many other Christian couples around us seeking to improve their relationships, grow closer together, and closer to God.  We were touched by the openness and honesty with which the presenters shared their feelings and experiences.  We were touched by a conversation with a couple who has been married for 30 years.  They greatly encouraged us in our walk of faith and told us at the end of the retreat how we impressed them and that they will be praying for us and our future family.

We were especially touched to receive a beautiful letter at the end of the retreat.  We found out that there were couples who have been on the retreat in the past who were assigned to us as a prayer couple.  This couple went on the retreat back in 1975, and we were truly touched by their kind words.  I was astounded by the fact that they spent time offering up prayers, the rosary, and mass for us over the weekend, without even knowing us or anything about us.  They had a special candle lit in their home to remind them to pray for us over the weekend.  

The final mass was also very touching.  When they told us we would be renewing our vows at the end of the weekend, I thought it might be kind of silly for us since we have only been married for a little over a year.  However, after hearing so much over the weekend about how we need to make the decision every day to honor our marriage vows, it was the most emotionally moving part of the weekend for both of us.  I felt so close to Thomas, and it seemed like we were the only ones in the room.  

Thomas and I very highly and very strongly encourage married couples to consider going on the Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend.  It really opened us up to a new form of communication, and we are looking forward to writing daily love letters in the notebooks they gave us and communicating on a deeper level everyday.   The retreat is geared towards couples in all different walks of life.  We met young couples, older couples, couples who have been married for three years and couples who have been married for over thirty years.  The retreat is run by Catholic couples and priests, but we met both Catholics and other Christians.  All were couples who wanted to transform their marriage from a good marriage to a wonderful marriage. 
I am truly in awe of God's grace.  He has blessed us abundantly in our marriage, and has given us so many wonderful opportunities throughout the beginning of our marriage.  I see so much of his love through my marriage to Thomas, and as our love grew more this weekend, so did my love for God.  We are so grateful for the gift of this weekend, and we truly hope that all couples can experience it.  If you have any questions, please let us know and we'd be more than happy to talk to you about it!  It is well worth the weekend away, and we know this will continue to affect us throughout our lifetime.  






Love,
Caitlin 


I just linked this up to a blog hop! Check it out! :)

From Grandma With Love

23 comments:

  1. I am so glad that you two took the time to get away and really get in touch. So great to have it at a beach!

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    1. It was so wonderful! You and your husband should definitely go if you ever have the opportunity! :)

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  2. You don't know how happy I am that you went on this retreat and loved it :). Ever since Steven and I first started dating, I have pointed out the twice yearly ad's in the bulletin, saying "I want to go to this one day when we are married!". Then, right around the time that we got married, someone told us that you had to be married 5 years to go on the retreat (no one official, but I just took their word). So I am SOOO excited to know that isn't true? What were the demographics like? Were there other young couples/newlywed type couples or mostly older couples? I think we will plan on going sometime next year! So glad you two had such an amazing time!

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    1. Oh my gosh, you and Steven would absolutely love it! That is not true from what I know of it, as there were a few couples married for five years or less at ours. There were mostly middle aged couples there, but there were also some younger couples and some older couples. We were definitely the youngest ones there by a few years, but we did not mind. They tell you to not worry about social norms over the weekend, but to just put all your focus on each other. The only time you talk to the other couples is at meal time. They also have follow up reunions where we'll get to know the other couples better, so I am really excited about that! :)

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    2. We are so in... especially after you posted the cost in Cathsorority! :) Thank you for sharing!!!!

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  3. I am SO happy that you were able to take this opportunity. I would love to. And what a beautiful setting!

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    1. It was so, so beautiful! You and your husband should definitely go if you have the chance! :)

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  4. What a wonderful weekend for you two, Caitlin. I still remember the Engagement Retreat Steve and I went on befroe we were married. This one sounds so special. And those flowers!!! Have a great day!

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    1. It was so wonderful and special. We loved our engagement retreat as well! I am sure you two would just love this retreat!

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  5. That sounds like such an amazing weekend! I hope Jim and I will be able to go on that someday!

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    1. You absolutely must when you get married! You two would just love it!

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  6. Thank you for writing on this! I am not huge on retreats, but since we're not able to go on a weekend pre-cana retreat like B. wanted (scheduling conflicts), we'll definitely have to partake in one of these in the future! God bless! Y'all are adorable.

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    1. Aww I hope you two get to go on one together in the future!

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  7. Sounds like yall had a wonderful time! It's so great that you were able to do that after only a year, especially in such a beautiful place. My husband and I may have to look into one of these near us!

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    1. You should definitely try to go to one near you! :)

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  8. Ahhh! We were there too and I totally recognize you now! I wish I had known you were there. If we had been seated together I wonder if we would have figured it out. We met one couple who had been married 2 years but my husband and I kept trying to guess if you guys had been married less than that. We loved the retreat too and got so much from it. Definitely what our marriage needed after all we have been through. We also made a lot of great friends. Will you guys be at the reunion? I hope so!

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    1. That is so, so crazy!! I thought I kind of recognized your face, but I thought it was maybe that you look like someone I know. I am so glad you two also got a lot out of it, especially with all you've gone through with Max. We will be going to the reunion! I can't wait to meet you there! :)

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  9. What a beautiful reflection, Caitlin! I loved reading this. I have to admit, I always perceived Marriage Encounters as a little too touchy-feely and not as deep or theological as I'd like, but the reality seems like the complete opposite! I didn't realize, either, that you guys spend the majority of your time alone, and really like the thought of a future reunion so you can still get to know the other couples you spent the weekend around. I'll definitely have to see if there's a retreat in our area anytime soon!

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    1. Hi Stephanie! I think they are definitely on the touchy-feely side, but in terms of the private conversations I had with Thomas, it was very deep. I hope you enjoy it if you have the opportunity to go!

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  10. Sounds like you guys had an amazing weekend!! :)

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  11. Such beautiful pictures! Hello I'm Sally =) I wanted to drop in to say thank you for linking up with us @ Social Mix. I love adding new reads to my list and am definitely looking forward to reading more of your posts especially if they have beautiful photos like your post above. Really breath taking.

    Thanks again for following

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  12. What a wonderful experience. My, now married for 10 years, husband and I have been talking about going on a marriage encounter since we first did our engaged encounter long ago. So glad you didn't put it off and made the time for each other.

    Aloha,
    I'm stopping by to say hi and follow along and I so can't wait to see what wonderful things you share from your beautiful "cookie jar" of a life. We're riding the wave of life at Local Sugar Hawaii and I'd love to have you with us. And, also I'd like to invite you to join me and a group of beautiful women for An ALOHA Affair, a sweet link up designed to get us mingling and growing in meaningful ways. 'hope to see ya soon.

    xo,
    Nicole
    localsugarhawaii.com

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  13. Found you through the blog hop! :)

    You two are so cute. It sounds like a fantastic retreat (and what a sweetie, buying you those flowers! Gorgeous!)

    Hope you'll stop by and follow back :)

    - Erin xo

    365mu.blogspot.co.uk - One girl's attempt at creating 365 different make-up looks in as many days

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