Getting Away to Connect on a Deeper Level
About the Guest
On today's broadcast, Bill and Carolyn Wellons, married for over 30 years and co-authors of the book Getting Away to Get It Together, tell how their trips away as a couple helped them focus on their marriage and connect on a deeper level.
On today’s broadcast, Bill and Carolyn Wellons, married for over 30 years and co-authors of the book Getting Away to Get It Together, tell how their trips away as a couple helped them focus on their marriage and connect on a deeper level.
Getting Away to Connect on a Deeper Level
Bob: Every so often, on a schedule, you take the car in and have the oil
changed or you have your tires rotated so that the car doesn't break down. What
about your marriage? For Bill and Carolyn Wellons, there was a twice-a-year
getaway where their marriage got a tune-up. Here's Carolyn.
Carolyn: There's so much daily living of taking care of children and cooking and
cleaning and laundry and so forth, that having something to look forward to, to
get out of town, was one of the highlights. That's part of the success of it, I think.
So we tried hard not to cancel it once it was on the calendar. Sometimes we'd
have to postpone it, but rarely. We really tried to keep that because it was such a
priority for the health of our marriage and our communication. We needed it.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 27. Our host is the
President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If your marriage
could use some fresh spark plugs, maybe a wheel alignment, stay with us.
We've got some ideas for you.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. We’re going to talk today about how you can take a little time away and breath some fresh life into your marriage relationship, which probably ought to be one of your New Year’s resolutions, you know?
Dennis: Probably should be!
Bob: Families are starting to think about what we need to do, some disciplines
for the New Year and maybe that ought to be one of them.
But before we get to the New Year we’re hoping that before this week is over some of our listeners will go online or call us and help support FamilyLife Today with a yearend donation. And, in fact, Dennis, there’s a significant reason for them to get in touch with us this week.
Dennis: There is. Our matching challenge now is at a record number of over
four million dollars. In nineteen years of ministry here on FamilyLife Today we’ve never had a matching challenge this large. It’s why we don’t need some of our listeners to make a donation. We really need ALL of our listeners to make a donation. Because you can go online and check us out here on FamilyLifeToday.com and you can see the thermometer and see where we are. We’re not there.
Bob: We’re not there yet.
Dennis: We’re not there yet and we need our listeners to step up. And let me tell
you why I mean “step up.” You need to step us to keep us on the air because in
January here’s who’s going to be on the broadcast and what we’re going to be
Marvin Olasky, editor of World Magazine is going to share how he met Jesus
Christ and how He changed his life.
Tim and Kathy Keller are going to share from their new book, The Marriage Duet,
as does Mark and Grace Driscoll. They’ve written a new book as well.
And then we’re going to end the month with Eric Metaxis, who has written a book
about Bonheoffer which is a great story of a Christian leader who was martyred
for his faith during World War II in Germany.
But here’s why we’re coming to you at the beginning of the broadcast. We need you to stand with us financially so we can take full advantage of this matching challenge. A number of families have stepped up and said “We want to keep you on the air.” And so in order for us to take full advantage of more than four million dollars, we need to have four million dollars or more given here in the month of December.
Bob: So over the next couple of days we’re hoping you will go to
FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation online or call 1-800-FL Today and
make a donation over the phone. Again, if you want to check out and see how
we’re doing, there’s a thermometer online at FamilyLifeToday.com that will show
you our progress toward that four million dollar matching fund goal.
And we hope to hear from you and want to say thanks in advance for whatever you’re able to do.
We should probably let listeners know that over the next couple of days you’re going to be taking a little time away, you and Barbara. You’re going to be having a little marriage retreat.
Dennis: I'll still be on the broadcast. Don't make it sound like I'm not going to be
Bob: Well, that's true, but you and Barbara are …
Dennis: But even the host gets away occasionally, you know?
Bob: You're going to get away with your wife for a little – would you call – is this
a planning retreat? Is it a romantic getaway? Is it a …
Dennis: I'm confident that all of the above will occur.
Bob: …will be accomplished within the course of this time.
Dennis: Yeah, and one of the reasons why it's a special getaway is we're going
with another couple, lifelong friends, Bill and Carolyn Wellons, and they join us
again on FamilyLife Today. You know, it's always great to have friends here in
the studio, new friends and friends who have been with us for a number of years.
Notice I didn't say "older" friends.
Bill and Carolyn, welcome.
Bill: That would be true.
Dennis: Welcome to the broadcast. It is getting a little older, isn't it, indeed?
Bill and Carolyn have, for a number of years, served at Fellowship Bible Church here in Little Rock, Arkansas. They were among the founding couples who helped start this church of now more than 6,000 people. Bill is a church planting consultant, having been a part of seeing more than 40 churches start around the country and undoubtedly going to see many, many more before it's over. And Carolyn speaks to women and women's ministries and loves teaching women of all ages. They've been married for, well, you've been married since 1970. You have three children and six grandchildren.
Bill: That's correct.
Dennis: And the Rainey’s have eight grandchildren, I'm sorry.
Bob: Oh, we've got a little competition going here, don't we?
Dennis: No, they're at a disadvantage. They have half the number of children
Bob: But the two of you have been advocates for a long time of the need for
couples to get away and spend a weekend together, just focusing on their
marriage and just building into their relationship.
Dennis: You guys, and we both admit it, that sometimes you go on these
weekend getaways in the midst of stressful times. Certainly, getting a babysitter is incredibly stressful. But sometimes there's conflicts to be resolved as you get away.
Now, Carolyn …
Dennis: … I understand you and Bill had a little conflict one time. Was it during
the getaway or prior to the getaway where you needed to resolve some issues?
Carolyn: Oh, well, one afternoon Bill rushed home from the office, and we were
throwing things in our suitcase, and the babysitter was there, and we were getting ready to head out the door, and Bill said, "Okay, this time away we're going to have time to talk about which school we're going to put one of our children in." And my heart just sank, and I started feeling really nervous about it, and I thought, "Okay, I've got two days to convince him that I’m right on this subject." So I've got to get all guns loaded here …
Dennis: Well, now, he's a pastor, so you know he's very spiritual and should
easily be convinced at that point, because he'd be listening …
Bob: I was thinking, "He's a pastor, so whatever he thinks is right should
probably be the right answer."
Dennis: Well, he's used to being that way at work.
Bill: Guys, I've got to tell you that doesn't work.
Dennis: But it doesn't work at home, it doesn't work at home, okay. What's the
rest of the story, Carolyn?
Carolyn: We had already discussed this at home, and we were on totally
different pages about what would be the best decision for this child for the next year. So that's why I started thinking, "Okay, this is the weekend. I've got to really convince him that I'm right about this."
So we got away, we started off with the positive, with our milestones, and some of the – a nice dinner the first night. And when we got to the issue, we really heard each other's hearts, and we really listened to it. This was one of the very few issues, I'd say, in all of our marriage – I can hardly remember any, where we ended up where we were still deadlocked on it. But I felt like he'd really heard me because we'd had the time to talk, and I certainly heard his reasons.
And that was a spiritual decision for me. That was a real turning point in my life when I thought, "Well, Lord, here we are. Am I going to follow him, knowing that he's wrong [laughs] – am I going to follow him and let this happen or am I going to just kick up my heels and say, 'No, we can't go this way’." And I thought before the Lord, I'm going to – and I thought the worst-case scenario, we can put him school at this particular situation, and we'll just take him out in a few weeks when Bill realizes that I was right.
Dennis: Now, Carolyn, you and Barbara are kind of made out of the same bolt
Carolyn: I know.
Dennis: Neither one of you are pushovers.
Carolyn: Even with our soft voices?
Dennis: Yeah, oh, your sweet, demure voices that sound like, "Oh, what a
sweet, sweet woman," but if you dug your heels in, you know …
Bob: They might still be on the weekend talking about it today, right?
Dennis: But that was a real test of whether or not you were going to empower
your husband to truly lead.
Carolyn: And it was a test for me whether I was going to trust the Lord with this
beloved child and put him in a situation that I didn't think was the best situation.
The long story short of that is I followed my husband, we put him in this school,
the child thrived in that situation, and I, as the weeks went by, I just thought,
"Well, Lord, how about that? You were right, I was wrong, and thank you for
Bob: Oh, it's "Lord, you were right," not "Bill, you were right."
Bill: I still didn’t get any credit.
Bob: You did that weekend, and you obviously had a big issue to deal with. You
describe it today – he heard you, you heard him – was it an unpleasant weekend
or was it a productive weekend?
Bill: You know, I want to comment on that, because one of the things I was
thinking about as Carolyn retraced our steps in that story, is that, as a guy, at home I don't know if I would have ever been able to have had that good of a healthy conversation about this subject. And here's why.
Again, at home, I'm distracted by a lot of things. I have a lot of things on my mind. I'm still finishing up today's work even though I've just arrived at home. And so you sit down, and you try and work through some of these more serious issues, and I just confess, I'm preoccupied. So I don't think I do a good job of listening.
And, again, Bob, what I would say is that retreat environment, at least for me, as a man, is it creates an environment that's much more distraction-free, and so then I'm free and can listen and can take some time to talk through a sensitive subject like this.
Bob: So the conversation you had that weekend wound up being much
healthier, much better, it sounds like, than what might have happened otherwise.
Bill: Absolutely, much better for me, and a lot of it was because we got away to
a place where we could really focus on something that was priority and important
to us and really talk it out without interruption.
Bob: Now, emotionally, on that weekend you realize you're at a point where
you're either going to trust your husband to make a wrong decision, or you're going to dig in your heels. Did that make it tougher for you to connect with him, to spend the rest of the weekend? I mean, here you've just, I don't want to say you've lost, but you know what I'm saying?
Carolyn: Well, really, just the opposite. I mean, even though I was still feeling
like I was right, and that he was wrong, I heard his heart, he heard mine. We both
wanted the best for this child, and I knew that. And we had a wonderful weekend
One of the most important things about getting away is that the first morning, the thing that's important to me is getting alone by myself somewhere with my Bible and my journal. I just start that time off with praising the Lord and then asking Him to reveal anything in my heart that is amiss; that I need to repent of; and when He brings things to my mind, I want to get in line with Him, because it's important for me to be prepared spiritually and emotionally before Bill and I get together to talk about issues in our marriage and in our life.
So then when we get together for lunch that day, I feel more peaceful, more centered, more directed, to get involved and talking really more rationally about whatever the subjects are.
Dennis: I want to make two very important observations about what Bill and
Carolyn have shared here. One that's very obvious and one that's kind of below
the water line that our listeners wouldn't know. But, first of all, for a woman to
feel heard enables her to more fully trust the decision, when and if you disagree.
And sometimes you can't fully feel heard without a weekend getaway. I mean,
you're grabbing conversations – it's like fast food – it's drive-through
conversations where it's two people connecting on the run, and it's hard to feel
heard in that situation.
So for a man who is listening to us right now, a husband, if he can understand, you know what? This is a great gift to your wife, because she can fully express herself if you will really listen and let her know you've heard her.
The second thing that our listeners wouldn't know necessarily is that Bill comes from a broken home. His mom and dad divorced, and so he didn't necessarily see a lot of these things modeled from a spiritual perspective. But Carolyn's response to him empowered him, as a young man starting out in their marriage together, to learn how to lead.
A lot of men, I think, are afraid to lead, and don’t know how to lead, and when they do try to lead their wives may not do a good job empowering them. And what I heard you saying, Bill, is your wife's life is so powerful in yours that she empowered you and does empower you, as a man, to step out and take the initiative even when you disagree.
Bill: Yeah, I would even go a step further – totally agree with that – and then I
would go to the next step where I learned, I wish I'd learned this a lot earlier in my marriage, but I began to learn in my marriage how valuable her input was regarding children, regarding decisions, and so forth, and began to tap into that.
For example, even on – remember, as the children were growing up and doing devotional times and things like that, oftentimes, the majority of the time I would say, Carolyn had been the researcher and the one who had found some excellent tools for me to use.
So it was a great partnership of her bringing ideas and suggesting ideas and bringing things into play for me, as a leader, and then being able to take those and us lead those times and share in those times together. I wasn't out doing a lot of research, so I'd go even a step further and say to husbands, as well, learn like I did. Your wife is a tremendous resource of information, not just to your marriage, but to your entire family.
Dennis: That didn't threaten you? That encouraged you at that point.
Bill: Absolutely, it was a huge plus. The more we can get off of win/lose/control-
related issues and all that and see the incredible benefits that God has gifted a husband and a wife with in marriage and use those in a complementary way. You know, on the Weekend to Remember, Dennis, you say, "And the two become one flesh." And if the two, if the man and the woman can become more one in their leadership of the home and their guiding of the children or even in a weekend away together, it's just such a blessing.
Bob: That thing about "two becoming one flesh," you got that from somebody
else, didn't you?
Dennis: I think Moses may have heard from God on that situation.
Carolyn: You know, I confess, as a young wife, there were many times when I
would think, "Why is Bill not giving more creative attention and energy to this family? Why am I the one that's always thinking and planning and thinking about the family and so forth." And, finally, God just revealed to me in His gracious wisdom that He has created my husband to give his creative energy primarily to his ministry, to his job, his occupation, and He designed me to be a resource person for him for the family.
So when I notice things that a child needed, I could pull him aside and say, "Could you give some special attention to Ben this evening, because I notice he's a little quiet, and I don't know what's going on."
And this project that we did together, when we would get away, we would each separate, both of us would list strengths and weaknesses of each child, and then we would come back together and talk about those with each other, and then from those strengths and weaknesses and observations that we made about each child, we would plan an application, we would see what the gaps were in that child's life or what the needs were, and we would think of an application that we could do to build into that child's life, and that child would never know that we were doing that. It would be something subtle that we would just commit together that we want to address in this child's life.
But because I was with the children so much more that was very freeing to me to realize it's okay. God has given me that gift.
Dennis: That project you're talking about is in your workbook, Getting Away to
Get It Together. I have to ask you, Bill, because I have a wife who has also found resources and researched and pointed out areas where I needed to step in. Sometimes I just kind of go, you know, why does all this end up on my plate here at the end of the day when I'm totally whipped and exhausted. Have you ever felt like that?
Bill: Absolutely. I think one of the greatest challenges for a man or a husband is
to lead his household. He is working, and he's working hard, and he's trying to make his way and do a good job providing for his family and then comes home, and there is still more to do.
Dennis: And Carolyn's got this agenda for you.
Bill: That's exactly right.
Dennis: And he's, like, "Oh, sweetheart, look at this list." And you always
embraced that, didn't you?
Bill: Not always. [laughter]
On the project Carolyn mentioned a minute ago, I was thinking back as she was talking about that, and I recalled to mind an occasion where we were at our getaway, and we had physically separated – we just took a sheet of paper and divided it – we have three children, so we divided it into three columns. She would write down her insights, and I would write down mine separately. And we used to do strengths and weaknesses and all kinds of things.
Then we would come together, as she said, and we would begin seeing where they overlapped to determine the needs that she spoke about. On one occasion, I remember her very wisely indicating one of our children was just sort of getting left out. This particular child wasn't as aggressive and outgoing and as talkative, and even at the dinner table. So what was helpful to me from the getaway was that we said, "Okay, well, what we will do without anyone in the family knowing is that, as we have meals together, let's draw that child out by simply asking, 'Well what do you think about this?'" and get them involved in the family.
A lot of times, as parents, you're trying to help your children in school, help them walk with the Lord, memorize Scripture, read their Bible, learn their manners, and all these things. And there are so many things, you sort of end up going about a quarter of an inch deep in everything. And what we found, even in this just simple project is it gave us an area to focus on together. We just said, "Okay, we're just going to focus on that area for the next six months" or something and really try to build into that child's life. And, as a parent, it caused you to feel like you were doing something together, and you were winning.
Bob: You know, one of the things about this workbook that I think is helpful,
especially for guys, is if I didn't have some projects to pick from, and Mary Ann
and I were going off for a weekend together, I might be able to drum up one or
two things that we could talk about that would be meaningful to her. But I don't –
about Saturday at lunch I'd think, "Let's go fishing," or something. And this gives
guys an opportunity to …
Dennis: … go fishing.
Bob: To go fishing relationally.
Dennis: Well, but what you don't realize in this weekend there are times when, if
your wife want to read, and you want to go fishing, or she wants to go fishing, and the husband wants to read, it doesn't matter. The point is the weekend is not so structured, and you're not boxed in. Bill and Carolyn have kind of given you a smorgasbord of questions and projects that you can apply to your situation that will benefit you the most.
Bob: But I know enough to know that as a guy if I'm going off for a couple day
getaway weekend with my wife …
Dennis: Uh-huh, yeah, go ahead – go ahead and say it.
Bob: I've got some stuff on the agenda that's not in your workbook, okay, a little
romance is on my mind, okay, do you understand? And at some level these
projects are a part of that romantic equation, aren't they?
Bill: Well, absolutely. Anytime a couple comes together and has meaningful
conversations it refreshes and is endearing to their relationship.
Bob: It's kind of a pre-romantic encounter …
Dennis: Ask Carolyn what she thinks about this, Bob, instead of a couple of
men talking about this.
Bob: Carolyn, would you agree that this helps create a mood?
Carolyn: Absolutely. Talking first and feeling connected and on the same
wavelength, just feeling understood and appreciated, having time for verbal appreciation is certainly the perfect prerequisite for romance.
Bob: I'm trying to be delicate here.
Dennis: It's worth one point, Bob. A good conversation is worth one point.
Bob: I hope the guys are getting the point, you know, even as we're delicate
here, that you ought to have some points before you try to cash in, right?
Dennis: There you go.
Bob: That's all I'm trying to say.
Carolyn: You get lots of points for conversation.
Bill: We didn't put that in the book, Bob, but that's a good point.
Bob: I do think that guys who look at this time away and think, "I don't know if
that's really what I want to do for a weekend, go away and talk." There is more that you have planned into this weekend than just some talks together.
We have copies of your book, Getting Away to Get It Together in our FamilyLife Resource Center. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and there’s more information about how you can order a copy of the book.
But as Dennis mentioned at the beginning of today’s program--with the matching gift we’ve got going on this week. In fact, this is the last week we can tell you about the matching gift fund that has grown now to in excess of four million dollars, the largest matching gift fund we’ve ever had access to.
We’re hoping to hear from as many listeners as possible over the next couple of days, making a yearend donation to support FamilyLife Today. And if you’ll do that this week, we’ll send you a copy of this planning guide at no cost. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says “I Care” and make a yearend donation and we’ll automatically send you a copy of the planning guide Getting Away to Get It Together as a thank you gift for your yearend donation. Or call 1-800-FLToday and make a donation over the phone.
Just mention that you’d like the Getting Away To Get It Together planning guide and we’ll be happy to send it out to you. Again, we appreciate your help and your support. Help us take full advantage of this largest matching gift fund ever. We’re going to need everyone to do what you can do if we’re going to be able to meet the match. So hope to you from you this week and want to say thanks in advance for whatever you’re able to do.
And we want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. Bill and Carolyn Wellons will be here again and will continue talking about husbands and wives and getaways and investing in your marriage. So I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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