And That’s Why Marriage Retreats Are Best Left To The Bedroom.
Recently, Justin and I had a really cool opportunity to head to Charleston, South Carolina, a city I’ve always wanted to visit. (Or at least for the past 5 years that we’ve lived relatively close to it.)
You see, every so often an organization on the military post offers these sponsored marital weekend retreats to nearby locations where we sit in semi-stimulating growth and communication classes all day, explore the town on our own or with some of our fellow retreat-goers each night, and come home feeling refreshed and invigorated and prepared to take on the next 50 years of co-habitation with our stack of free self-help paperbacks like “The Five Love Languages,” “Personality Plus,” and “A Celebration of Sex” to display proudly on our shelves.
We attended one in Myrtle Beach when we first moved here in 2007. For a cynic like me, it involved a lot of sniggers and eye rolling on my part, a lot of elbowing on Justin’s part, and a fantastic dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse with a few of our newfound friends. Clearly, for me, the highlights were the free moments we had outside of class.
And it’s taken me 5 years to work up the courage to face it all again.
For a (nearly) free trip to Charleston?
I could stomach a few hours of trying to learn how to be a better spouse.
But so many people were interested in the trip this year that they had to have a drawing for spots. You know, because I suppose it’s difficult to make an unbiased, educated decision on whose marriages might actually benefit the most from the retreat.
(Though I’d venture to guess that Justin and I should sit right at the top of that list, since of the three couples we befriended on the retreat in 2007, he and I are the only ones still married. So really. As one of their few success stories, they should be begging us back to sit on cushioned thrones and speak our wisdom to the masses while lovingly passing out copies of “Love & Respect” and “Love Handles for the Romantically Impaired.”)
We didn’t get in.
Then, the day before the retreat was set to start, Justin called me from work.
Him: They just called me and asked if we’re still interested in going. Apparently one couple backed out and they have a room available.
Me: I don’t know… I’m still trying to get over this cold and we don’t have anyone to watch the dogs. But… well… it’s Charleston. It’s supposed to be beautiful. And the hotel is super nice. And they have a billion amazing restaurants. Oh, and of course I want to learn to be a better spouse. So yeah. Okay. Let me call the mutt sitters and see if they have room for the pups.
**Insert 10-minute apologetic conversation with our fantastic mutt sitters who are more than happy to squeeze us in at the very last minute.**
Me: Okay, we’re in. I have to quickly get the house cleaned before my sister comes next week since we won’t be here next weekend, pack, and shove about 500 cough drops into the car’s glove box. Is there anything I’m forgetting?
Me: What? I know that voice. What are you not telling me?
Him: When I called them back to tell them we could go, they’d already given the slot to someone else.
Him: Yeah. I didn’t know they were calling several people at once.
Me: Who does that?
Him: And apparently they gave it to someone who didn’t bother to check with his wife.
Me: Well. I guess that’s for the best.
Me: The guy didn’t consult with his wife before committing to a weekend trip. Obviously he’s going to need marital help more than you.
Me: I’m seriously flabbergasted, though. How is it than an organization that’s planning a function solely to improve relationships has such crappy communication?
Him: Please don’t call them.
Me: I mean, really! They’ve caused more miscommunication with us in a single morning than we’ve experienced in 10 years.
Him: Please. Don’t call them.
Me: They are so irresponsible. And now I have to call the dog sitters again, go back on our arrangement, and generally look like a jackass. I feel like our struggle needs to be known.
Him: No, it doesn’t. I will call the sitters and rub your back and bring you medicine for your cold.
Me: Don’t patronize me.
Him: I’ll rub your feet, too.
Okay. So I’ve taken a few liberties with this conversation. But generally, this is how it goes. He tells me something I don’t want to hear. I freak out. He makes it better.
Marriage is simple. In fact, the words “marriage” and “placate” are pretty much synonymous.
And I didn’t need a retreat to tell me that.