Saturday, May 10, 2014

For Better Or Worse

Recently, my friend and fellow "chick" over at Chickswagger posted about her experience at a marital retreat.  It was a hilarious post (you can read it here) that got me thinking about a similar experience I went through with my husband.  It was by no means a marital retreat, but it was an experience my husband and I will never forget.

I should mention this happened a number of years ago.  Five or six, I believe.  And spoiler alert: everyone lived.

My husband and I wanted to get away for our anniversary, which is something we'd never done before without our children.  At least not since they were born.  So we left our two kiddos in my mother's capable hands and drove five hours to our destination.  We had rented a gorgeous two-bedroom log cabin in the middle of the forest, surrounded by a chain of lakes with cinematic views and an abundance of wildlife. 

I even surprised my husband by arranging for the restaurant's gourmet chef to leave a decadent chocolate cake, decorated with edible flowers, in our cabin before we arrived.

Our "Lover's Package" (yep, they actually called it that) included a huge Jacuzzi tub in our room *wink wink*, a picnic basket prepared by a gourmet chef (wine included), a romantic horse carriage ride, and a fancy white-linen candlelight dinner. 
Over the weekend, we went fishing, horseback riding, swimming in a man-made lake with fun, fast-moving slides that flung you out into the deep water, soaked in a large grotto-style hot tub, swam in the pool around water-spouting palm trees and a rock formation waterfall, made out in a hidden cove, and sat by a campfire while drinking wine and eating s'mores.

Such a romantic, fun-filled weekend, right?

Until...we made the worst mistake ever. 

We rented a canoe.  DON'T DO THIS.  SERIOUSLY.  JUST DON'T.  From the moment we put the canoe in the water, our marriage was in trouble.  I honestly believe that if we hadn't already had such a strong marriage, our romantic weekend would've ended in divorce. 

Here's the thing.  Canoeing is like marriage.  It's all about working together and settling into a rhythm that keeps you moving forward instead of turning circles.  You can learn a lot about yourself and your partner just by picking up that paddle.  For instance, I learned that my swinging arm needs some work, and my husband learned how to duck.  Yes, it was THAT bad.

Of course, it could've had something to do with us canoeing on a lake filled with very large alligators.  Lots of them.  More than once we saw gators (at least ten foot long) enter the water.  The same water we were steadily gliding across.  And trust me, once was enough.  I was absolutely terrified and borderline irrational.  Can you say Lake Placid?  Yeah, I totally went there in my head.  Not only was it the first time I'd ever been in a canoe, but every little movement my husband, who wasn't the least bit frightened, made rocked the boat, causing me to unleash an obscene string of profanities that impressed even him.

We argued the entire time we were in the canoe.  I'll admit I'm a bit of a control freak.  In fact, I'm surprised he didn't knock me out of the boat on purpose and save his sanity.  Thank God that man loves me.  From that point on, I have whole-heartedly believed that the way to know if someone is your soul mate is by canoeing with them.  Because if you both make it back alive, it's obviously meant to be.

Thankfully, we made it out okay.

It might not have been funny at the time, but since then, we've learned to laugh about it and actually have fond memories of our anniversary weekend.  Most of the weekend was indeed pleasant and allowed us to reconnect in ways that we hadn't in years.  Also, we enjoyed making up later.  *grin*

NOTE:  By the way, we later found out that the man-made lake with the fun slides that we had been playing in also had gators in it.  The receptionist's response went something like, "Oh, they won't hurt you.  They stay away from our guests." 

Funny, I hadn't realized that gators were so considerate.  Stupid me.


  1. LOL, Alison! This is fantastic! My hubby and I love canoeing, camping, anything outdoorsy. I couldn't agree more with a canoe trip being a test of a relationship. It was on a particularly harsh portage (read: hauling a canoe over land while being swarmed by mosquitoes) that we decided we were meant for each other) :) But no alligators. Can definitely do without those!

  2. haha! Thanks, Rachael! It was a fun post to write. I love strolling down memory lane. :)

  3. You crack me up, crazy girl!!! This is hysterical but oh so true!! I would've died if I saw an aligator while in a canoe. Mr Matthews and I would've had no problem manuevering though...he would just sit back and watch me paddle...just like in our marraige...sheeesh....MEN!!! They're damn lucky they married such kick-ass women!
    Josie Matthews