North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


March 6, 2014

Danielle Cater: Lessons, fun times make retreats enjoyable

Danielle Cater: Lessons, fun times make retreats enjoyable

NORTH JEFFERSON — I did something recently that is apparently out of the ordinary for most people. I went to a marriage conference while I was not in the midst of marital problems.

A week ago I posted on my Facebook that my husband and I were going to a marriage retreat this week and I was really excited about it. Before the post got good and online, people were already messaging me to ask if we were already having marital problems. It was a shock to the system to see that people are so quick to jump on the wagon, thinking that your marriage is going to crumble beneath the stress of life.

No, my husband and I aren’t having marriage problems. We are trying to make sure that we are doing everything we can to keep from having problems.

You don’t wait until your motor blows up in your car before you go and get an oil change. In the same way, you shouldn’t wait until your marriage is on the brink of divorce before trying to do things to improve it.

The thing about a marriage retreat is that they usually try to make sure they throw some fun things in there to break up the hard-hitting sessions. This retreat was no different. They made sure to keep us laughing while still telling us the things we could look at changing or doing better to help our married life.

I loved that they started the conference by having the couples do a devotion to remind them to “stay in your own yard,” meaning that we weren’t to go through this weekend pointing out everything that was wrong in our spouse’s life. We were to direct our thoughts to our own lives, and make sure we were applying what we heard to ourselves instead of trying to shove it down our spouse’s throat.

One set of our speakers for the weekend was Jeremiah and Jean Castille. Jeremiah played football for Alabama and then went on to play in the NFL. Being the good Auburn fan that I am, I packed my “I hate Alabama” T-shirt for our fun date night. I thought that Mr. Castille had already left the conference since he wasn’t at the last meeting of the night, so I wore my shirt with pride. I felt pretty good about it until they broke us up in groups, and the head of my little group was the Castilles. They were decked out in their Alabama clothes, and I got the privilege of sitting right next to Jeremiah for a short — but seemed like an eternity — golf cart ride. Earlier he had preached on unconditional love, so he said that the only thing keeping him from throwing me from the cart was that message. He and his wife are wonderful people and I never get tired of hearing him share his testimony.

The weekend consisted of reminding husbands and wives that we are made up of our body, soul and spirit, and we needed to get all of these in line in order to be better spouses. We took home a lot of little nuggets that have already helped us in our marriage.

After the sessions, they had planned a date night for the couples. We got an email the day before the conference telling us to pack tennis shoes for the date night because it was going to be high-energy. Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of a date night, it’s roses and candles and no tennis shoes required, but we were prepared for anything this weekend and wanted to make the most of the event.

We found out later that our date night would consist of relay games, a camp fire with hot cocoa and an extra activity of our choosing. Among the choices was zip lining. If you are unfamiliar with this activity, it’s a line tied to the top of a phone pole, stretching high off the ground to another pole somewhere down a mountain. You glide down the zip line from the higher to the lower pole. We have discussed doing this before, but I’m a sissy when it comes to heights, so we haven’t made any special trips to do this.

It looked like fun and people older than us were trying it, so I jumped on that cart with Mr. Castille and we headed to the zip lines. Little did we know it wasn’t just zip lines — it was an obstacle course leading to the top of the pole. We had to climb a phone pole, then tightrope walk across another pole suspended in the air to get to the platform to actually get on the zip line.

I wanted to back out, but once again my mouth had overloaded my head, so I had to go through with it after all of the smack talk I’d been offering. I didn’t want to be labeled as the sissy Auburn fan. Halfway across the beam I had about decided this was an awful idea, but a gentleman on the platform stuck his hand out to me and I was able to shout “War Eagle” while riding the lines down to the bottom of the mountain. This was just a little activity to remind us to keep some fun in our marriages.

If we spend every night watching television and every weekend doing housework, we won’t just get bored with our spouses, we’ll get bored with our lives too. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and plan an adventurous weekend with the misses every once in a while. I wouldn’t suggest taking her on an obstacle course suspended in the air, but if that’s her speed, then have at it.

The most important point of our weekend was to line ourselves up with God so that we could become better helpmates to our spouses. When you put their needs ahead of your own, then you’ll start to see them in a different light. Give to them expecting nothing in return, and you will start to recognize what true love looks like. Marriage isn’t a 50/50 agreement, it’s 100/100 and when your spouse can’t seem to give their part, you help them out by giving more. And when times come that you are coming up short on your end, they can help you out.

Marriage is a commitment. It’s not based on feelings or emotions — it’s a decision you made on your wedding day and every day since then.

Let your mate know today that you would choose them all over again.

Text Only
  • Danielle Cater: What kind of banana are you?

    They say what goes in is what comes out. I’ve heard it said, “Garbage in, garbage out.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement right there.

    July 28, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Bass fishing is just in my blood

    I was born the daughter of a fisherman. My dad was the pastor of a local church and the manager at various Jefferson County Waste Water Treatment plants, but anyone who knows him, knows he is a fisherman at heart.

    July 21, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Making memories not that hard

    Do you spoil your kids? Do you spend enough on them? What really matters when it comes to the well-being of your children? These questions are real doozies and I think the answers vary according to the family.

    July 9, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Graduation leads to hard decisions

    The caps and gowns are ordered, the invitations have been mailed. Checks are being written all across the country, it must be graduation time.

    May 29, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Longevity in marriage still possible

    I have officially seen it with my own eyes. I have witnessed it with my own life. Yes, I have seen a couple who has been married 60 years and still love each other. Even more than that, they still respect each other and still genuinely love to be around each other.

    May 27, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: ‘Girl in the front’ loves her job

    I’m 33 years old. Yes, I just admitted that. The reason I throw this fact out there so freely is that I have now, officially, been working for the North Jefferson News for over 10 years. That’s right, almost 1/3 of my life has been spent behind this desk. (And yes, I’ve had the same desk all 10 years.)

    May 27, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: What memories are you leaving?

    Death hurts. It hurts when it hits close to home and it hurts when it hits the people who are closest to you.

    May 27, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Life is precious from the beginning

    The media is all abuzz this week over the story of a woman who apparently gave birth to seven babies in the last 10 years without anyone’s knowledge, then killed her babies and stored them in boxes in her garage.

    April 24, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Be strong in moments of weakness

    A sad scene took place on Sunday at a church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The founding pastor of Calvary Chapel stepped down from his position of head pastor due to “moral failing which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church.” This church is home to over 20,000 members who worship together in 10 locations across Florida.

    April 15, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Old dogs can learn new tricks

    You’re never too old to learn something new. I’m of the opinion that you can, indeed, teach an old dog new tricks.
    So as an old dog, I’ve been trying to pick up a new trick.

    April 7, 2014