10 July 2012

family weekend: marriage enrichment retreat 2

As much as possible, Hubby and I try to attend CFC teachings that we know can help strengthen our relationship and/or add to our knowledge in raising a family. So when it was announced that there would be an MER 2, we immediately confirmed that we would be attending as soon as we saw that our schedules were free. We had attended the first MER more than three years ago, and since we enjoyed ourselves then and learned a lot as well, we were looking forward to the second MER. The fee we paid covered the overnight stay in a room, buffet breakfast and buffet lunch at the hotel…which was actually very sulit.

So on the evening of the 14th of June, Hubby, Caila and I headed to Acacia Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah where the retreat would be held. As most of UAE had a three-day weekend ahead, traffic was pretty heavy. As soon as we arrived, we registered at the Reception Counter, then went to our room to drop off our bags. Ever since our weekend at The St. Regis, Caila has been telling us that she wants to go back to “the very nice house far, far away.” So since we knew we were going to stay at a hotel that weekend, we told her that we would be going to another nice house far, far away. As soon as we entered our room in Acacia Hotel, Caila’s face fell. She sat on the bed, looked around, saw that everything was small compared to the suite we stayed in 2 weeks ago (the entire room, the bed, the TV screen, etc), and practically bawled her eyes out while saying “This is not nice house! I don’t like! Iba sya!” Gosh! As early as now, she already has standards! Even though we both wanted to laugh, Hubby and I just tried to pacify her by telling her that even though it was a different house, it had a pool where she could swim the next day. That calmed her down!

After some time, we went down to where the MER was being held, and fortunately, the first talk was just about to start. There were two talks that night: “What Makes a Christian Marriage Work” and “Unity in Marriage.” After the second talk, we were given some guide questions for reflection which each couple had to discuss in their own rooms. Although we were told that we still needed to return for another activity, it was already a bit late so Caila and I stayed in our room to sleep while only Hubby went back.

After showering the following day, we headed down to Al Nakhla Restaurant for breakfast. The food was pretty good, but I was disappointed that their selection of fresh juices didn’t include orange juice (isn’t this supposed to be a staple in buffet breakfasts?). After we had our fill, we headed to the pool which had just been cleaned. As soon as our daughter got in the water, her smile wouldn’t leave her face. She really enjoyed herself, splashing about and swimming around while Hubby helped her stay afloat. After around 20 minutes in the pool, I told her that she had 5 minutes left before going out; fortunately, she agreed and allowed us to dry her up, take her to our room, give her a shower and put on her clothes without any fuss. Whew!

We listened to three talks that morning: “Communication,” “Sex in Marriage,” and “Christian Parenting.” Naturally, the one that made everyone sit up and really listen was the second one. And since Tita Marivic was the speaker for that, we were even more entertained. At around 2pm, we had a break for lunch and to check out of our rooms. Then we returned for the last talk which was “Empowering Our Marriage.” After that talk, the couples were told to pray over each other. I think this was one of the most meaningful and favorite parts of everyone because it allowed us to pray for our partners and our marriages. There was definitely lots of tears and sniffles after that activity.

Just before the distribution of attendance certificates and photo souvenirs, the wives were asked to go to another room while the husbands remained and blindfolded themselves. A few days before, we (the wives) were asked to prepare love letters to our husbands and bring these and a gift to the retreat because the service team had prepared an activity in celebration of the upcoming Father’s Day. So when we returned to the room, each of us were holding our presents for our significant other, and upon the signal of the host, the husbands removed their blindfolds and the wives gave the letters and gifts…or in our case, Caila was the one who gave them to Hubby.

Since I never got the chance to shop around, and I didn’t want to get him something ordinary like a shirt or pants or whatever (especially since the last gift I gave him was a year ago), I had to wrack my brains…and finally ended up with this:
With the coupon, he had the freedom to get exactly what he wanted and I’ll just foot the bill. And since I made the validity date until the end of the year, it would give him enough time to look around and take in all the sales and promotions…plus, it could also cover my birthday gift for him as well. Pretty sneaky, don’tyathink? =)

Now my husband barely cries; actually, practically never! I don’t think he even shed a tear on our wedding day! I’ve written him a couple of letters for similar activities in the past and I usually just get the same reaction: a smile, kiss, and words of thanks. So this time when I heard him sniff and saw him get his hanky to wipe his eyes, I was surprised. Something in my letter must have really affected him. I tried to ask him which part exactly, but he just said “everything.” Oh well. I’m just glad he liked what I wrote…or maybe they were tears of joy from receiving the coupon I made? =)

All in all, it was a great retreat. As usual, we learned a lot from the talks, and it was another chance for us to bond together as a family.

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