For couples who have never truly experienced a marriage retreat, the thought of being vulnerable – with each other and with other couples – can initially be unnerving. Take Will and Michelle, for instance…
In their nine years of marriage, Will and Michelle had never considered investing in their marriage through a retreat. They had attended a marriage counseling session once, but nothing more.
When Michelle first suggested a WinShape Marriage Retreat to her husband, his initial reaction wasn’t so sure.
“When you start talking about getting in a big room with a bunch of people…sharing about what’s going on and learning from each other…that kind of stuff makes me a little uneasy,” Will says.
But, as they agreed to go and prepared for their weekend away, Michelle got excited about the support and guidance she knew they’d receive.
“I am looking forward to having help with this thing called marriage, because it’s not always easy.”
Will and Michelle finally made their way to WinShape Retreat, nestled in the mountains of North Georgia. Will’s initial reaction? “I’m not used to this much quiet,” he realized. “It’s like I’ve actually retreated.”
And that’s the whole point.
WinShape Marriage Director, Dr. Matt Turvey, explains why such a sequestered setting is their choice for marriage retreats. “God’s plan for our marriage is that we are intimate, vulnerable and safe with our spouse,” he says. “We want to give couples a place to do that.”
As Will and Michelle journeyed through the retreat, it became clear that the activities had been intentionally designed to encourage couples to think about how those moments could be used as metaphors within their own marriage – even life in general.
Matt Turvey explains how that intentionality fits into the overall design of the marriage retreats, which are set up for couples to to experience five key aspects:
- Grace-based hospitality
- Elements of worship
- Bible-based teaching
- Sequestered setting
- Experiential learning
For Will and Liz Mott, experiencing a marriage retreat gave them much-needed time to get away and focus solely on their relationship, but it also challenged them in ways that brought them closer together.
“I leaned on [Will] a lot to push me to go a little outside of my comfort zone…I don’t think I could have done that by myself,” Liz says.
For Will, their first few seconds on the Retreat grounds were equally impactful.
“One of the first things I heard when we drove up was, ‘We’ve been praying for you,’”
he says. “People have taken time to intentionally ask that God would bless our time here.”
Each couple who comes through a retreat is in a different season of marriage. The beauty of these retreats is that they allow couples to understand what the other person needs from them to feel fully loved and known at that particular point in their marriage.
Sometimes, that means couples coming back to a retreat during multiple seasons of a their marriage for those reminders and the space to focus on each other.
“There are couples who have been here four or five times,” Michelle says. “And that’s a good reminder that…you can [always] be working on having an excellent marriage.”
The experience is ready and waiting.
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