Wouldn’t it be lovely to get away for a half-day or a whole day with your spouse? You should plan a spiritual retreat! It is well worth the time and planning. What could a spiritual retreat look like with your spouse? Let me share. My husband and I recently went on a retreat, and I will share our experience. I hope it can inspire you to consider taking a retreat, too. You could go on a retreat with other couples or you could design a retreat on your own.
Today, my husband I went on a retreat for couples from a group called “Teams of Our Lady.” The retreat was a partial day retreat. What is Teams of Our Lady? I will briefly explain what it is. One reason why I bring it up is that this group inspire my husband and I to be accountable. It is a requirement of the group to go on an annual retreat! Teams of Our Lady is an international, lay movement for married couples and the purpose is to grow closer to Christ, as a married couple. It is a small group. We have 5 couples on our “team,” and a spiritual advisor, who is a 70-year-old, kind and holy priest. Once per month we meet for three hours at someone’s home. We share a meal, then pray, read scripture, and have discussion about the assigned scripture we read in the last month as a couple. We also commit to praying every day as an individual, couple, and with our children. We commit to praying every day for those on our team, and we commit to praying for all of the members in Teams of Our Lady worldwide. We also commit to going on retreat once per year as a couple. Even if you are not in a small group that requires you to go on an annual retreat with your spouse, I highly encourage you to add it as a habit! It should be separate from an anniversary weekend, or it is different from a date. Here are some details about what our most recent retreat looked like.
Our retreat today started at 8:30am with Mass, including a homily on the scripture readings for the day. Then we had a brunch and talk given by our spiritual advisor. He gave a beautiful reflection on “the good thief” from scripture. He gave a narrative (story) on what the life of the good thief might have been like, and how he came to know Christ at the very end of life, having a “death bed conversion.” The reflection was from the idea that you can read scripture and could choose to imagine that you are in the scripture, imagining what it was like (e.g., imagine what it would have been like seeing Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt at night with baby Jesus…imagine how dark it might have been at night and how cold it might have been…imagine them walking past you, saying hello, and smiling at them as they go on their journey).
After the spiritual talk, my husband and I had free time to walk the grounds at the retreat site. It was a beautiful 80-degree, mostly sunny day. It was a good chance to talk. We said some things that were on our minds, held hands, and briefly reflected on the talk. Then we enjoyed eating lunch with the other couples and the priest, reflecting on the last year of our group and making cursory plans for the next year. It was a peacefully joyful time. After lunch, we all went on a walking rosary, taking time to prayerfully reflect on the life of Christ. We prayed, as a team, reflecting on the annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the birth of Jesus, the presentation of Jesus, and the finding of Jesus in the temple after he was lost. Then my husband and I had a chance to pray for the intentions that were dear to our hearts. Then the retreat was completed, and we were home by 3pm, joyfully greeted by our children.
One of the better reasons for going on a retreat is to help life slow down and reflect. Sometimes the Lord shares big things or provides consolation for an unanswered prayer, but other times, often times, a person on retreat will not have a huge “awakening” or a deep insight into a problem. We can hope for such things while on retreat, but we should not expect them from the Lord. Retreats are time to slow down life and reflect on where you are. It’s a time to look at your life and see if you are still on the “straight and narrow path,” seeking to do God’s will. Retreats are a time to draw closer to the Lord. It’s a time to listen the Holy Spirit, and see what the Holy Spirit might be guiding you to do, think, or be. It’s a time to draw close to God the Father. It’s a time to repent. It’s a time to forgive. It’s a time to find peace and hope.
If you are with your spouse on retreat, it’s a time to draw closer together in prayer and reflect on your marriage. This might sound jarring…but I hope it is not! For married couples, it is healthy to reflect on your marriage. It doesn’t mean you have a “problem,” but instead it’s a sign of a healthy marriage to want to grow together. It’s a safeguard for a good marriage to not let any concerns slip through the cracks of day-to-day life raising a family. It’s healthy to set aside time to sit down together, as a married couple, and think about how your married life is going and see ways you can draw closer or serve each other better. It’s a time to think more clearly about how you and your spouse are a team, serving the same master. You two are a team of three: you, your spouse, and God. As it is sometimes said, it takes three to get married! Many extra graces are given to married couples by God. Marriage is under many spiritual attacks, and it’s necessary for married couples to find ways to reconnect spiritually.
If you have never gone on a retreat with your spouse, I highly recommend it. If your spouse is not Christian, you could still see if your spouse might be interested. You never know unless you ask!
In a future post, I will give you ideas on how to set up a retreat for you and your spouse. (And if I forget, please post a comment below and it will remind me!). I have several ideas to share for going on a retreat, including how to plan one even when a retreat site is not offering a guided retreat.