My wife loves the times when she has the opportunity to sit down for coffee with friends. I don’t know exactly what they talk about–I suppose it’s about kids, or school, or maybe about how great their husbands are.
But one day the idea was conceived to have a Christian Couples Retreat in our vicinity, and to invite members of our neighboring CLC congregations. The goal was to foster fellowship and to promote marriage enrichment in a Christian setting.
The wheels started turning in late summer of 1998, as a suitable site was found near the small hamlet of Byron, Wisconsin, just eight miles south of Fond du Lac. The Byron Center was nothing fancy, but its setting was picturesque, and it had an available weekend for us in late February.
Long after invitations were sent out, it didn’t look like the idea would fly. By mid December there still weren’t enough couples enlisted to make it financially feasible. We were ready to cancel the whole thing. But after much prayer that the Lord would show us the direction we should go, several couples suddenly expressed their intentions of attending. In the span of a single week our emotions ran from doubt to excited anticipation, as it became clear the retreat was on!
Couples started arriving the evening of Friday, February 26. At 7:00 each couple shared with the group the story of how they met, telling about their first date. This activity was fun and lighthearted, and it set the mood for the entire weekend.
After breakfast on Saturday, Pastor Bruce Naumann of Markesan, Wis., led the morning session with a review of the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He then directed us to take a personal test to help us determine our own love language. This was very revealing! As a man I realize that we of the male gender tend to shy away from discussions of this type, but I found this to be a catalyst of communicating freely about something that is important to every married couple.
The afternoon session was led by Dean and Laurie (Roehl) Marzofka, licensed family counselors and members of Luther Memorial Church of Fond du Lac. They spoke on the distinctive roles of husband and wife in marriage. Later that evening it was time to let our hair down, so to speak. All fourteen couples participated in a Christian version of “The Newlywed Game.” We played other games, too, on this fun-filled night.
We had no pastor available for the Sunday morning church service at the retreat, so each man was asked to come prepared with a portion of Scripture that has either helped him in his marriage with his spouse, or has meant a lot to him personally. Nine men spoke from the heart, and hymns were sung with accompaniment on an organ at the facility. The entire weekend came together at this, the most edifying lay-service I have ever had the pleasure of attending.
As we parted for our various homes after church that Sunday, we all realized the retreat was a success. The price was right, the food was good, and the closeness we all felt as Christians would not be soon forgotten.