Those Stupid Marriage Vows


Most divorces occur within the first year of having a baby.

That’s what my doctor told me nearly five years ago, right after my first child was born.  Personally I think she made it up.  But while I was never able to verify that it was actually true, I definitely saw how it could be.

What I did find during my research was that multiple studies have confirmed that marital satisfaction drops off significantly after children arrive.  Because let’s be honest.  Those little people that occupy our homes are the best gifts we have ever been given.  They rock our worlds in ways that we could never imagine.

But they also rock our worlds in ways that we could never imagine. 

They take a lot of attention and focus and sleep and energy and suddenly you realize you’re in the midst of the marital doldrums and you didn’t even see it coming.  Or maybe even worse than the doldrums.  Maybe you’ve found yourself in the middle of a hurricane.

And so it seemed to go with my own marriage.  We adored our sweet boy, but I was not one of those women who entered into motherhood with grace.  It was a journey of indescribable love interspersed with tears, exhaustion, prayer, over-extension, short tempers, anxiety, and failure.  And then, sometime around our son’s first birthday we found ourselves wondering whose bright idea it was to include “for better or for worse” in those stupid marriage vows, anyway.

Through a series of events in the Spring of 2010 we were gifted a registration to a Weekend to Remember event.  Neither my husband nor I knew anything about what to expect, but we were able to think of a lot of reasons not to go.  Finding the money to pay for the hotel room.  Lining up childcare for two nights away.  Admitting that we needed some help in our marriage.  What would people think if we went to a marriage retreat?

We finally decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up.  We agreed to go hesitantly, but willingly.

The weekend arrived.  We checked into the event and nervously slipped into the conference room.  We chose seats safely in the back and waited to see what we had gotten ourselves into.

To our relief and delight, the energy was fantastic.  The speakers were friendly, relatable, and moved seamlessly between humorous anecdotes and deep, serious content.  They polled the participants and couples were there as part of their premarital counseling, in their first years of marriage, and after decades of marriage.  Some had no kids.  Some had more than ten.  I even remember one couple who said they were at their 18th Weekend to Remember.  Another couple made it their annual anniversary gift to each other.  It was clear that no matter where we were in our marriage – the honeymoon phase, contented happiness, a complete mess, the doldrums, or the hurricane – we were in the right place.

That first session was the last time we sat in the back.  For every session thereafter, my husband led me to the spot he had picked out in the front.  He was hooked.  We both were.

At the end of the weekend we traded vows.  The same ones we felt imprisoned by just a few days earlier became a hedge of safety around the two of us.  We said them and we meant them in a way that wasn’t possible a few short years earlier during our marriage ceremony - without the context of years and trials that test the strength of the promise.

The wedding day is a special day, but it’s not a magic day.  The one-ness we seek in marriage doesn’t just happen with the trading of rings.  It’s an ongoing journey towards one-ness that takes continual effort and intentionality.  The Weekend to Remember was the perfect way for us to jump back into the journey we had forgotten we were on.  To this day, both of us will say that it was hands-down the best thing we have ever done for our marriage.

And, I'm so excited that I get to share this experience with you! ENTER TO WIN A registration for 2 to a Weekend to Remember. You won't want to miss this chance to relax, refresh and reconnect!

Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway

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  1. Sasha posted on 03/11/2014 01:02 PM
    You know what's so funny? I was JUST saying to a friend last week that it's a wonder ANY relationship survives pregnancy, nursing and the few sleepless years that follow. Especially marriage!!

    (okay so secret confession time. Several years ago my man and I were so desperate for a date night, time away, anything... that we convinced our family to watch the kids and let us go to one of these conferences. We went the first night and loved it.. but more than anything we just needed time together to talk in peace and hang out... so we ditched the rest of it and went on date after date to all these little restaurants and shops. It was crazy and we felt like we were totally getting away with skipping school or something. We never confessed that to our parents... LOL Oops! The good news, it was JUST what our marriage needed that weekend. So I suppose in the end, it's all good. Now just don't tell anyone we did that.) ;)
    1. Kristina Slaney posted on 03/11/2014 06:56 PM
      @Sasha Don't worry, Sasha - your secret's safe with me! :)
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