Author Archives: Oli@lifeimagined.org
What an opener. How does one even answer that?
And yet for us, the answer came almost immediately. Jarring in it’s truth, it is why we work as a couple.
We are together because we bring what the other needs to move farther into a deeper, more fulfilling life. To evolve, if you will, from where we started in life.
I was raised with unconditional love. For all our faults, my family gave me unconditional love from birth. I’ve also had unconditional love spiritually, as I have had faith since early childhood.
My husband was raised with the mantra of “no excuses”. It doesn’t matter what is thrown in your path or how hard things get, you are responsible for living the life you desire.
Combine the two and we can build a life that knows no limits. We balance each other out and have the opportunity to raise children who are fully loved, loving, and self-responsible (responsible for own well-being).
Why are you together with your partner? I’d be interested in others’ answers.
Question #2- What direction are you going as a couple?
As we worked through the questions, a thought kept reoccurring. My husband and I have been able to stay together as a team through the past decade because we asked most of the important questions when we were first getting serious. We had a long distance relationship. You can only use small talk and recounts of your day for so long. To fill hours on a phone or pages in a letter (email was just beginning when we met), you have to get real. We discussed everything from our values, to how we wanted to raise kids, to what old age would look like. We have been through so much in the last 15 years, but through it all we have been generally heading in the same direction.
The beauty of doing a retreat as a couple (as opposed to a group) is you can start from where you are. For some, this is will be the first step in determining the direction and mission of your family. For us, rather than finding our direction, our goals became clearer, refined. We focused on refining how our team works and treats one another. The planning for our future was less a battle of what direction to go and much more a discussion of when to enact certain changes we knew we both desired.
Our direction is clear, we want a life filled with love, exploration, helping others and the freedom on make our own life choices. We began this fifteen years ago. We are now well on our way, living in our desired location, raising our two beloved sons, and saving for the day when we no longer need to work full-time jobs.
To achieve this, we need to continue to simplify our lives. Avoid added distractions, expenses, and negativity.
The beauty of acknowledging our direction is how simple it is once again to say no to things that do not aid us. For the past year we have discussed getting a camping trailer, it aids our goal of exploring and spending quality, family time in nature. However, it hurts our savings goals and our simplification goal. We would have to find a storage place and maintain yet another big purchase. After our retreat, we no longer need to discuss it, it doesn’t fit where we are right now. There is beauty in knowing your decisions are rooted in your life direction and you as a couple do not need to keep rehashing the same ideas.
What is your direction as a couple? Are you beginning your journey or well on your way?
The couples retreat was heavenly. Began the journey with an easy car ride through the mountains filled with deep conversations stemming from the workbook. I felt lucky in that my hubby was completely on board with the idea and I didn’t feel I was forcing him to do anything. It definitely helped that we were both extremely overworked (hubby had two days off in the past seven weeks) and were in need of time together, away from our precious kids.
The previous post centered on why we were doing a couples retreat. This post centers on how to prepare for a couples retreat (or simply time you plan together to discuss life, your relationship and direction).
While we based our retreat off a workbook specific to a Christian focus, there are any number of retreat workbooks out there. The important thing is to ask and answer questions as a couple that help get to the root of your direction in life, values and the direction you want to go for the next month, year, five years…
I highly suggest that each person review the workbook during the week before the retreat. Starting even earlier would have been helpful. The more time you have to think, pray, dream and daydream over the topics and plans for your life as a couple- the better spent your time together will be.
Focus and Ground Rules
It helps to began the trip knowing what the focus of the retreat will be and the ground rules. The focus should be on yourself and not on changing your partner. This of course triggered recall of one of my favorite quotes.
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ― Aldous Huxley
This is critical, as a sure way to block progress would be to bring up past grievances you have with one another. Which called to mind another favorite quote.
We proved this one to be a true but more on that in the upcoming Mountaintop Couples Retreat- Part III (sounds like a horrible movie sequel). Thankfully our retreat was anything but horrible.
After a shorter than expected drive, we arrived in Telluride, which is every bit as breathtaking as its’ reputation. We entered the resort prepared for our three days of couples visioning and planning for our family’s future.
We were then royally upgraded to a beautiful residence and patio all overlooking the view posted at the top. Gratitude, my constant mantra, was easy to come by in this moment.