By Rickilyn Schneider
Because I believe that one of the best ways for families
to be strengthened, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the
hearts of the children to the fathers is to heal the marriages of the fathers
and children, I am writing this letter.
A precious friend, struggling in their marriage, said, “ you don’t throw a marriage away because of momentary distractions or temporary frustrations”. My revision of this is, “Marriage encounters distractions, frustrations, wilderness times, but with the proper tools it can thrive!”
I am reminded of friend who wanted to recreate the adventure that early explorers experienced. Taking only what could fit into a pack, weighing no more than 12 pounds, he carried a lightweight thermal blanket and tarp. As the wind came up, cold and howling, it nearly tore down his tarp. He had an idea, but not the skills or tools needed to sleep in the wilderness. He wasn’t prepared for the distractions and frustration of the winds.
We recently completed a weekend retreat, the Alumni Love Takes Time Retreat, sponsored by the Oregon Conference Family Life Department. This retreat offers marriages, regardless of their condition, a chance to learn how to become more intimate, committed and enduring. It teaches you how to prepare for the distracting, frustrating winds that attack our marriages.
We had such divergent views of marriage, of how to even just be together, that our marriage was on a one way track to destruction! Like most couples, we didn’t think about the journey, only the immediate experiences, the today of marriage. We were on the verge of failure, instead of “till death do us part” we were closer to “till divorce do us part”.
Many of us don’t know where to begin. We come into marriage determined to either repeat the lessons from our families of origin or to be very different. Often, we see what destroys marriages, not what builds them up. We enter marriage, like my friend in the wilderness, without the proper tools.
We had been told that “Marriage is the Last Frontier: that we are given the chance in marriage to strengthen our personalities much the same way that bones strengthen by use, jarring and jostling.”(Craig Montgomery Phd. Family Life News March 1996) I believe that without the tools to create a loving environment in this last frontier, we will just end up wearing away our personalities, our marriage, and our love. We will become an empty frontier of distractions and frustrations.
What this retreat offers is time away from the stress of life, a time to concentrate on your spouse and yourself. You learn what makes the marriage journey one that can overcome the distractions and frustrations. Through the integrity, vulnerability and honesty of Kathy and Harvey Corwin, we gained new tools, new skills. We learned how to communicate our frustrations, prevent distractions, share our childhood wounds, our joys and needs, in ways that allow each partner to give and receive without fear of rejection or reprisal. We learned how to resolve differences, using the emotional road map, to walk through the process toward understanding and healing.
Love does take time, marriage is a journey and the road isn’t always smooth. You can protect your marriage from cold winds, distractions and rough spots. The presenting couple’s love and commitment to Jesus, their love and commitment to one another, to marriage and families, enabled us to see that we too can survive in the windy wilderness times. We learned that by taking the time, learning the skills, we have a better chance of making our marriage a success, a place of growth, a safe haven from the storms that work against us.
We gained the tools, the skills, to save our marriage, to create a truly loving environment in which our marriage can grow, heal and become the kind of marriage “Our Lord will smile about”.
Take the time. Your marriage, your family, your walk with the Lord, depends upon it!
Find a Family Life Leader, find a retreat center, the tools are out there and your marriage will be blessed beyond imagining. Ours was!
Clearly, Love Takes Time, our families can be healed and its worth it!
12132 SE Niklas Lane
Clackamas, Oregon 97015