Perhaps you’ve seen ads, or even attended, marriage retreats that cost a few hundred dollars. You get to stay in a fancy hotel with meals included in the cost and attend some seminars about improving your marriage. It’s a long date, a time to play, learn new skills, and learn about each other, sans kids. Sounds glorious! Problem is, sometimes some of us can’t pay for it.
Here is how to have a marriage retreat without paying a cent.
1. Get the vision of going on a marriage retreat. Have a kid. Long to return to newlywed days when you can be free of responsibilities like kids and jobs so you can just talk for hours about marriage issues.
2. Have a bunch more kids. Delay fulfilling your vision because you can’t afford a babysitter for more than a few hours, Eventually you actually do go on some overnighters but you can’t count them as a “true” retreat because you always bring a nursing baby or toddler.
One of the aforementioned nursing babies, now grown, with his fingerprints on the doorframe!
3. Have even more kids. Notice some of the older parents in your homeschool group leave for overnighters without the kids because they have teens who can babysit the siblings. Add that to your vision.
4. Find out that your husband is going to a conference for his attorney profession that is 2 days at the Zermatt Resort in Midway UT. Realize that the conference sponsor is paying for his hotel room. Translate. Free hotel room + no nursing babies or toddlers currently in my life = free marriage retreat. Husband has a conference at this hotel for four years in a row. Take advantage of the free room, but sometimes you have to get there late because of your children’s softball and baseball commitments. You never actually get there before sunset and always feel rushed to go swimming, which isn’t as fun because it’s in the dark. Sometimes the kids come with you and then drive home separately, so you can all have a fun free night of swimming together. Find out that the conference room package includes miniature golfing, s’mores making at the fire pit, and tennis. Because of getting there so late every time the whole family can only do swimming.
5. Have the family car’s transmission break on Mother’s Day.
6. Spend the whole summer looking for a second car. You are dead set on getting the best family car ever, the Toyota Sienna minivan with 8 seats, and you want to buy it used, so it takes all summer, since 8 seat Siennas are about as rare as lavender unicorns. Three times you are about to buy one when the person who looked at it right before you talks to the owner, interrupting you with a phone call or in-person approach, and gets it before you. Retreat like a dog with your tail between your legs and quit looking at cars for over a month.
7. Finally realize that you better get the second car so that you can drive up to the next retreat opportunity, because your husband has another conference coming up. You want to stay there both nights with the hubs, since it’s only two weeks after your 24th wedding anniversary, so you will count it as an anniversary celebration. You want to go up the first night without kids and have the kids drive the second car to visit at the resort for a few hours on the second day to swim, play, and do miniature golfing, which is part of the free package, and then send them home. You don’t want to have all the fun yourself. Especially since you wanted to do that on a previous visit, but because of the kids’ sports, you couldn’t get there sooner.
8. Have two of your kids come home for a semester break for college so that increases your options of babysitters.
8. Get the second car four days before the retreat. Yes!!!!! Major victory!!! A used Toyota Sienna, clean title, 8 seats, not dirty, no mechanical problems, and for only 6K! And it has an “aux” inlet so you can connect your phone to the car’s stereo speakers.
9. Peruse a super fun website full of dating ideas for married couples. It’s called datingdivas.com. Get some fun ideas for your retreat (wink, wink).
10. Talk to the kids about this upcoming time when you will be leaving them home with the four oldest who are teens/20+ years old.
11. Plan meals and go shopping for food for the kids to survive on their own.
12. Realize that school for your scholar phase kids actually interferes with your plans for this retreat because two of them have homeschool speech and debate and ballroom dance classes on the day you want the kids to drive up. Argh! Can’t summer still go on? It’s not Labor Day yet people! Arrange with your teen daughter whose college semester starts two weeks later (thank goodness!) to do chauffeur duty and bring the brood up after speech and debate classes.
13. Find out that because of your hectic life with seven kids going different directions to football practice, work, study, and play, that one of them never got the memo about this retreat because he was never at dinner when you announced it. Feel sad that he would rather go to ballroom dance class then come play with the rest of the family.
14. Go to church. Teach your Primary lesson. Have a hard time concentrating because is less than six hours you will be away having a second honeymoon!
15. Go do your visiting teaching and home teaching because it is next to the last day of the month and you procrastinated, yes, once again! Continue to have a hard time concentrating.
16. Leave your visiting teachee’s home like you are kid being released from the last day of public school before summer vacation. Finish packing and instructing children as you walk out the door. You do not want dishes in the sink when you come home! Drive up with your husband and enjoy the mountain atmosphere. Listen, as you drive, to this article on marriage, about blessing your children by improving your marriage, from the September 2015 Ensign. Discuss your answers to the questions in the article. This gives the perfect emotional setting for the retreat.
11. Create a playlist of romantic music without any interruptions from kids, chores, or phone calls.
12. Enjoy a romantic evening because of what you planned from ideas at datingdivas.com.
13. Have fun writing in journal the next day and sunbathing, playing golf with the kids after they arrive with teen driving siblings. Explore the natural crater across the street at the Homestead resort, with the geothermal spring, and swim with them. Also ride the carousel and have s’mores. Fulfill two dreams in one: to have a marriage retreat for two nights, without any nursing babies, and to have a family day at the Zermatt doing all of the activities.
This picture was taken inside the natural crater. You can go scuba diving in the water! Next time we go I want to do that!
This is the fam, minus me and 17 year old son (the one who would rather go to ballroom class), on top of the crater.
14 Send the kids home. Again feel like you are being released from the last day of school before vacation.
15. Have another romantic evening, thanks to datingdivas.com. Bless you ladies!
16. Wake up to another wonderful day! Do your Power Actions (prayer, read scriptures, and write in journal) in the most leisurely way possible since you can for twice a year (!) while hubs goes off to his dry legal meetings. Feel like Linda Eyre in one of her stories, where she writes how Richard checked her into a hotel so she could have a break from little kids. She tells how she put a pen down on the desk in the hotel room, and when she came back, it was still there! (Only a mother of little children knows the relish that comes from such an ordinary experience.) Write even more in your journal, exploring the resources on the Gospel Library app that you haven’t explored before, do more sunbathing, and go home with your husband after dry legal meetings are over.
Re-enter normal life with all of its demands as a homeschooling mom of 7 with a refreshed and recharged spirit for the new school year!
I was delighted to find this blue flower in the courtyard of the Zermatt. It looks more lavender in the photo but it was blue in real life. I hardly ever see blue flowers.