If you were to list the number of times Claudy and I actually get out of the house for a date it wouldn't be long. Then, if you were to whittle that down even further to something really fun and different the list would probably be pretty pathetic. It's hard to break out of the movie/treat/walk rut--especially when you're trying to be frugal and you live in Provo.
Almost exactly a year ago I saw a Groupon for a Couples Retreat by Clas Ropes Course. It was $100ish total/per couple (a lot more than we usually spend) but I figured we'd use it for our 5th anniversary, and that the milestone deserved something a bit bigger.
Well, the day of the retreat was the day Carter had to be admitted to the ER/ended up staying in the hospital for five days. So, naturally we couldn't go. And, then they don't do the retreats during the winter (since it's all outdoors) and then we missed the Spring ones because of Claudy's work.
So we FINALLY went at the end of July. I'm so glad they allow you to reschedule. I can't imagine having missed out on this.
And, to say it was needed is an understatement.
I'm going to share with you something I've been debating about. But, I've always felt I should be real and honest. And, I'm sure we're not the only ones...and if I can help someone else feel better than that would be great. Just please, don't judge.
You know when you sign up for marriage you figuratively check both boxes...the "better" box and the "for worse" box? But, you really don't think about what could be included in the "for worse" box. You just think that your super handsome husband could never do anything wrong and that you, of course, will do everything right.
Then, you fast forward five years and you're having the troubles of your life. I'm talking trouble I never thought would happen, or forsee coming. I was completely blindsighted and we were/are really struggling.
So much so, that we've started going to counseling.
I never really understood how someone could get divorced and walk away unless it was abuse. But, to be honeset with you...it's scary how it crossed my mind. I kept thinking that I promised forever, but that I couldn't handle what was going on. I guess it's in human nature to want to run away from your problems. I didn't feel I had it in me to stay until it all got worked out and I am still struggling to find patience and be kind throughout this process. In some cases, and I believe mine, it's almost harder to stay until things get better because they're not going to get better without a lot of time and hard work. Just the thought of the efforts we're going to have to go through is exhausting, much less doing it. And, once you add onto that all of the time it will require and it just feels overwhelming. I like quick fixes. I like solutions and I like things to be taken care of and done, so this is very anti my nature to have to work slowly and rely on someone else to do their part and for me to not just take it all on myself.
I thought Carter's health was taxing on my soul...but adding marital problems has been about all I can bear. I've spent a lot of time crying and just plain feeling down. I think this has been so super hard, because even with Carter's health, I knew I had Claudy to lean on. But, when you feel like you don't have your spouse in an already rough situation it just feels so super heavy. I honestly felt like we were special beforehand. Everyone talked about how much of an adjustment marriage was, or how hard the first year(s) are and I felt like we never had that. I was over-the-moon happy with Claudy and thoroughly enjoyed being his wife. I felt like we were "the lucky ones". Even while being poor and having Carter's disease, I thought that at least we had love, and that we were so blessed to have each other. So, I know I should be grateful we at least we had a really long honeymoon phase, but I guess that's why I was all the more shocked when it shattered one day. I hold onto those good memories, hoping that we can be like that one day again.
I share this because I truly feel there is hope again after going to counseling. I know some people feel there is a stigma to counseling. And, that's really too bad. Because, if you have a good counselor (not all of them are...my counselor says they are like shoes and you have to find one that fits) it can be so super helpful. It can help you so, so much. We're not there yet, but I believe it's possible now because we have an unbiased, trained and compassionate counselor who's willing to help us.
Another thing that has really helped us is doing the no-duh answers. We used to be so fabulous at reading our scriptures together. And, while it's not a great excuse, things really ended once we had our baby. We were decent at praying together, but not great. We were challenged to do these daily essentials faithfully. I'm not going to say that it's fixed our problems. We have to be the ones to do that. But, it's allowed the Spirit to be more abundant in our home. It helps the tenseness leave and to feel at peace, even when things aren't fixed. It's funny how you know those things, but it's been a huge testament and reminder to me how vital those are in a relationship. We're still far from perfect, but we're much improved.
So, I know I said I would get to the retreat, but I wanted you to see how badly we needed to do something fun and challenging together. It was inspired timing that it didn't work out until this summer. Who would have ever guessed we'd be going through huge trials in July 2013?? I also wanted to share what's been helping us, besides the retreat...because any retreat, no matter how good isn't going to solve everything. But, it really helped us have a bonding moment and something fun to talk about afterwards, to have good memories and to do something light and enjoyable that got our minds off of our problems.
The retreat started at noon and went until 7. Just that was nice to get away for so long! Thankfully, Carter's awesome Uncle Travis was willing to come watch him. I'd say $100 just for two people for seven hours is a great deal, especially compared to how much you would spend on just dinner and a movie and this was way more fun.
We first did a couples challenge where we had to build a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. Yeah, we didn't win but it was a good way to have to start off the day by working and communicating. We then did a tricky handcuff game that was tough to figure out!
Then, we did a blindfolded tag. One person out of every couple was blindfolded and the other had to tell them where to go so they didn't get tagged. Yeah, we got tagged a lot...but you couldn't help but laugh most of the time because you felt soo silly. It was like, "To your right...NO, you're other right!"
We also did a tight rope/balancing game where you had to be holding hands the whole time...we didn't do too bad!
They then gave us some paper with questions and it had goals on it. It's pretty woodsy where they are (by Utah Lake) so we spread out and had a nice chat.
Then, we did the high adventure stuff that was knock-your-socks-off fun. (And, I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting another game or two.)
The first was the leap of faith. Talk about intense. They have you get in a full-body harness. Then, they have you climb up a telephone-like pole. Then, comes the hard part. You have to step out onto this really tiny platform and just fling yourself out into the air and hope to catch a metal ring quite a ways out. I didn't even want to try and catch the ring, thinking it would hurt my shoulders. So, you're basically just jumping from high-up, knowing that you're going to free fall. I didn't think it would freak me out as much as it did...but it is a head trip! It's like everything in your body is telling you not to leave safe ground, but you know you have to! Claudy was actually able to grab the ring (only a few in our group did) and he was the only one to do a pull-up on it too. Glad he was my partner!
We then did a rock-climbing wall. I've never liked these, and never been able to get to the top before. I always get shaky and too scared. But, I was determined and just flew up it, before I could have the chance to think. They had each couple rock climb at the same time. And, I feel bad but Claudy yelled out to me, "How are you doing?" And, I just yelled back, "I can't talk right now!" Because I was afraid I'd lose my focus. I made it to the top and it felt pretty great!
For the last one, they had this ginormous swing-like thing. One person sits in the seat, and the rest pull them all the way to the top (I think 40 feet in the air). Then, the person in the chair has to let go, and down you go! It drops you, and then finally acts like a swing and you go back and forth until the momentum finally stops you. I tried to flip around, but it would swing me back. Mr. Show-Off (Claudy) was able to do three flips. The most of anyone!
We then had a catered dinner and a speaker come talk to us about marriage. She did a good job, and it was nice to end the night on a mellow note and so that you had time from all of the adrenaline to calm down.
Then, it was optional, but they had canoes you could take out on the Provo River. We did that. We were both sore and pretty spent, but it was worth it because it was SOO relaxing. It had fun questions posted all along the river like, "What is the favorite characteristic of your spouse?" So, it was a sweet talk we had while we paddled together.
We couldn't stop talking about it on our way home and I still think about how fun it was. And then, a few days later they sent us these photos. We took the videos, but it was nice to not have to worry about capturing it and just enjoy it.
I'd highly recommend it to anyone in the Utah County area. It was worth every penny.
I recognize that we still have a lot to work out. But, I know that as long as we continue to include the Lord and we both are willing to work at it things can get better. Not overnight--we have lot of work to do, but I believe in a better future for us. I'm holding out for it. Like the couples retreat, we will have high adrenaline times, times we have to work together and times to listen to each other and we need to ride out those times together. I'm so glad we went. It's probably the funnest thing we've ever done in Provo (other than snowboarding of course!).