Josh & Danielle Files | Winter Marriage Retreat 2015 |Personal Post

Marriage. That word has many different connotations depending on the context in which it’s used and which person is using it. We’ve found that it sometimes gets a bad rap in our culture. Many comedians, TV shows, and movies jokingly refer to marriage as a prison or a trap.

A quick Google search turned up these quips from movies:

“Marriage is the Jack Kevorkian of romance.” – The Story of Us

“Marriages don’t work when one partner is happy and the other is miserable. Marriage is about both people being equally miserable.” – Forget Paris

“We both said, ‘I do!’ and we haven’t agreed on a single thing since.” – So I Married an Axe Murderer

“A wedding is like a funeral, but with musicians.” – Mobsters

“Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage.” – Clue

“Marriage is like a tense, unfunny, version of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ only it doesn’t last twenty-two minutes. It last forever.” – Knocked Up

“Did you know that the institution of marriage was created when the average person lived to the age of 30?” – The Last Kiss

“A man doesn’t know what happiness is until he’s married. By then it’s too late.” – The Joker is Wild

“Marriage is punishment for shoplifting in some countries.” – Wayne’s World

We completely understand that these quotes are meant to be comical & it’s not that we don’t have a sense of humor. It’s just that we believe in marriage and in love and in forever. When the media constantly bombards us with negativity in relation to marriage, it subtly sinks in. When the world weighs down upon us and tempts us to believe that giving up on a marriage is just a part of life and that divorce is common because marriage is designed to fail and fails more often than it succeeds, we can become disillusioned and even cynical. That’s where marriage retreats come in! Occasionally (or even regularly) taking time to refocus your thoughts on your marriage and your spouse is so key to a healthy marriage! Supplying your brain with positive thoughts about marriage is a great way to combat all of those negative nellies trying to rob your marriage of strength and joy with their cynicism and unhappiness. 

Josh & I enjoyed some time away in the middle of nowhere Ohio this weekend with other married couples on a marriage retreat. We truly hope that you know marriage is one of our passions. That might sound strange, but marriage matters to us. Your marriage matters to us. Helping to inspire others in relation to the true beauty of marriage is one of the reasons that we do what we do. A goal of our wedding photography business is to impress upon every couple that we meet that marriage is beautiful, wonderful, amazing, and SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than a wedding day. In order to inspire others in this way, we know that we need to nurture our marriage relationship and to invest time and energy into it!

The retreat this weekend was at Elkhorn Valley Christian Service Camp, a camp that has held a special place in my heart since I was 7 years old. I’m so glad I finally got to share the beauty of this place with Josh! It’s surrounded by rolling hills and trees, doesn’t get a stitch of cell reception (perfect for a marriage retreat), and brings a sense of peace over you as you enter it. It was especially gorgeous covered with a fresh coat of heavy snow.Elkhorn_0001Elkhorn_0002Once we arrived to the retreat center, we claimed our room for the weekend & then headed to the retreat center common room to chat with everyone. Our first session with counselor & professor Don Cooper that evening was deep & really got us thinking about the psychological workings of our partners and ways to communicate, forgive, and thrive together. Don & his wife Emma are truly great examples to us young married couples & it’s evident in talking with them that they genuinely care about everyone with whom they come into contact. We hope that we can be like them someday! They’ve been married over 41 years. 🙂

After our sessions that night, we all ate a delicious meal and then played games and hung out. We played Fishbowl, which is such a fun group game. Check it out if you have any gatherings coming up! We seriously FAIL in that we didn’t take any photos of this action. 🙁 In our defense, we were caught up in having fun & didn’t even think about grabbing our camera. Sometimes you just have to experience life in the present & soak it up! After Fishbowl, we played Four on the Couch and then some people got intense with ping pong action. Josh lucked out because I decided my nine month pregnant belly wasn’t a great accessory in playing ping pong so he won a few games against other opponents. He can’t beat me. 😉 Also, a signature Elkhorn Valley experience is carpet ball. We’d love for you all to experience these fun and rejuvenating times with us at the marriage retreat next year! We’ll keep you updated on when it’ll be scheduled. It’s likely going to be a weekend in January or February 2016.

The next morning, we all ate breakfast together, had another session, worshipped together, and then had one last session with Don. He shared so much information with us that I feel like I couldn’t really soak it all in! His brain is packed with knowledge. I took notes & I’ll be decompressing and reconsidering everything over the next few days at least, I’m sure. Josh & I thankfully had a beautiful snowy drive home to discuss everything.

When marriage is a priority in your life and you deeply love another person, marriage is truly the most beautiful relationship in the world. I’m not talking about emotional love that can fade at the first sign of something undesirable. I’m talking about mature love- a decision that you make and a commitment that you reenter into each and every day. Don defines love as “Thinking the best and doing the best for another even until the point of total self-sacrifice.” It’s certainly not easy to be so selfless, but it’s worth it. 

To balance out those negative quotes about marriage, here are a few of my favorite positive ones:

“Marriage: Love is the reason. Lifelong friendship is the gift. Kindness is the cause. Til’ death do us part is the length.” -Faith Weaver

“Happily ever after is not a fairytale. It’s a choice.” -Faith Weaver

“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.” -Jennifer Smith

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” -Dave Meurer

“Marriage is a commitment- a decision to do, all through life, that which will express your love for one’s spouse.” Herman H. Kieval

“Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together.” Barbara Cage

Before we left, we snapped a couple of quick photos in the pouring snow.

37 weeks. . . woohoo! (This reminds me that I want to do another Mini Menning Bumpdate post like I did at 20 weeks. Baby & I have certainly grown!)

Elkhorn_0003When you’re standing in the crazy POURING snow, you dance around a little & if your husband has a camera, he’s going to snap a photo. He thinks it’s cute & hilarious when I dance with my big belly. 🙂Elkhorn_0004Elkhorn_0005Elkhorn_0006And here’s my handsome cousin Aaron and his beautiful wife Cheri. We made them hop in a photo before we left, too.Elkhorn_0007We’re so glad we got the opportunity to attend this marriage retreat! If you want to read about our other marriage retreat adventures you can go HERE & HERE (sorry the video in the second blog no longer exists). We won’t be attending CONNECT this year because of our little one’s arrival, but we hope to go back in 2016.

I’d like to conclude this post with something to consider: “A successful marriage isn’t the union of two perfect people. It’s that of two imperfect people who have learned the value of forgiveness and grace.” -Darlene Schacht