As older singles, my husband Gary and I lived full lives before we were married. We came to our union with two houses of furniture, different systems for organizing, and enough plastic tumblers from weddings and parties to hydrate an army. It’s not surprising that the first five years of our marriage were what we lovingly refer to as “the merge years.”
After one child, five moves, and many of debates about what colors worked and didn’t work, we were finally able to focus on an area that needed attention: our giving life. We each had lists of missions and missionaries that were dear to our hearts. Because we both worked, we essentially continued our own giving as it had been in our single years.
Then a life incident changed everything. My husband lost his job and we were suddenly living on my part-time salary. We had to make difficult decisions in our living and our giving. A good friend once said that “crisis clarifies” and just like that, it was very clear that I wasn’t in control. I found myself living in fear and seeing a scarcity side of myself that was very disorienting and scary.
God used a dear friend to counsel us about a year into this difficult season. She gently showed us our views of God and money were not lining up with God’s Word. It was about this time I remembered a retreat tool from Women Doing Well. It is a self-guided planning retreat for couples to discuss their finances and giving. I quickly search the Women Doing Well site and found it. My husband I agreed we would set aside 24 hours to get away and go through some of the retreat material.
During this time, we mixed fun with planning and discussion around our family mission, values, and giving. It was a rich and meaningful time where we shared our perspectives, dreams, and desires. We walked away renewed in our belief that God was for us and that we could live as dearly loved children, clear about who we wanted to be whether we were in plenty or want.
(Since I was single for so many years, I will also mention that you could grab a friend or two and modify the tool so that you each could work through your plans and share the highlights for processing and community around your goals.)
Whether single or married, it is so satisfying to set aside time to do the thinking, praying, and processing needed to live intentionally. We didn’t get caught up in doing it perfectly; we just aimed to make progress in our planning. We know that this is something we want to make part of our regular planning each year as it was both fun and helpful.
Could you see setting aside 24 hours to go through this material with your spouse or close friends? What barriers exist for you and how could you take a step to overcome them? What benefit might come from setting aside this time? Happy planning!
Our free tool, the Annual Planning Retreat Guide gives you all you need to get practical, set your goals, and pray about them together.