Sunday, September 02, 2007

There's no biz like Show Biz

Unless, you want to talk about the Father's Biz. Jesus did:

And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2: 49)

Anyway, Mocha-momma made a reference this weekend that I hadn't heard in quite a while, and it brought back some good memories. When we were early into our marriage, and MM was pregnant with JR, she decided that we had to make sure we were on the same page emotionally and spiritually. MM and her friends were the types that talked about "deep" things. She was as deep as a well when it came to her relationships and the stuff they talked about. I was about as deep as a pizza pan. The most serious I had ever gotten with my buddies was when the fridge got short of beer and food. So, she decided we needed to go on a retreat.

Enter MN Marriage Encounter. (a chapter of National Marriage Encounter) This is basically a weekend retreat, held in some unused dorms of a local Catholic academy. I wasn't keen on the idea, but I could play the game as well as any new husband, so I agreed. We went because MM wanted us to get our relationship to another level; but, the reasons that people attend this retreat can vary considerably, and often times it's the last attempt to save a relationship before the divorce papers are signed.

The weekend is led by some team couples, who have gone through it themselves, and consists of multiple sessions related to different aspects of relationships, not just between each other, but also with God and other people. The team couples first read their thoughts on a topic, you then go off by yourself and contemplate and write your own thoughts; then, you get together with your spouse and read your stuff to each other. It is a very intense and emotional practice that lasts from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Every waking moment during that period is designed to keep you focused on your spouse and your marriage.

Well, I survived; and although it didn't turn me into a well of relational honesty and depth, we did keep at it by joining a monthly marriage group with other couples who had been with us that weekend. We also went on to become one of the team leaders, and worked about 3 of the weekends ourselves. We worked a few of them with a couple that were sort of the pillars of the local program, who had been married about 50 years. We also worked with one couple who actually had the divorce papers ready to go when they did the encounter; but, they reconciled and their marriage was stronger than ever.

Okay, so back to the reference MM made. At the end of the weekend, there's a little service where couples will renew their vows; not before an ordained minister, but before the group, and of course, God. You and your spouse work out what you'd like to do or say. When MM and I did it, we each found a special bible verse, read those to each other, and pledged to continue building our relationship and marriage no matter what it took. Well, one of the weekends that we worked, there was a couple who were up in front; I can't remember what the wife actually said; but I think it was fairly serious and loving. Then, the husband---he turns to his wife and says, "honey, you're the best in the biz," and that was it. I wonder if they're still married.

MM and I have always taken our marriage very seriously, and don't take things for granted. We spent about 8 years with that group; but did eventually break away. We didn't stop though. We got into another marriage group through church, and we've been with those people for 6 years now. When we started in that group we were suppose to read through a book called "Wild at Heart." Well, after one year we had gotten through 2 chapters; but, the laughter, tears, friendship, encouragement and sharing that took place more than compensated for us not actually ingesting the content of the book.

Neither MM or I had said it for awhile; but every so often we would just pop off to each other, "you're the best in the biz." She just said it again yesterday over something silly.

Don't ever take anything for granted; especially not your marriage or relationships with those closest to you.

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