As we return from our travels we are keeping our promise of expecting a report on whether you did spring cleaning of your sexual relationship. We hope you have and that you have enjoyed the benefits of doing that. We find that it t is always good to take a look at our relationship and how we live together just as we do with all the other things in our life. We hope that you find that true in your marriage as well. The things we all need to look at likely include how we communicate, whether it is verbal or physical, the expectations we have of each other, the hopes and dreams we have, how we handle finances, how we interact with extended families and friends. While there are many things that we share in common, there are some that might be peculiar to your relationship – with your parents or other issues such as a blended family or prior relationships to name a few.

We consider ourselves blessed to have had a simple life. We each are the only person that the other has been in a serious relationship with. We were blessed to have had parents who loved and supported each other and us. Having moved away from our families, we have been somewhat exempted from the demands of our siblings. We have been blessed with good friends and children who have good lives as well.

As we were away we found time to reflect on the blessings in our relationship and in our lives. First and foremost the travel this time was more of a challenge than we have ever had. Every little thing of the travel experience presented a situation to be handled – from airline connects, to having our GPS stolen, to following directions. All seemed more difficult than any other trip. Yet the wonder and beauty of the trip was there. We were so happy that we could at least talk about both good and bad with each other, hold hands as we walked or prayed together, give each other a hug and kiss when needed, and most of all that we could laugh when there was nothing else we could do.

Through the years we have learned that travel always has unexpected glitches, but this trip was more challenging than most. It started with ticket problems on the first leg of our flight and with credit cards as we tried to buy train tickets from Rome to Sorrento. I lost our GPS to a pickpocket and my efforts to replace it with one that worked failed. That led to a very difficult drive from Rome to Cascia to Assisi to Florence. The trip home became difficult when we discovered that we had been given wrong information about transferring our luggage to a new airplane for the last leg of our flight home from Toronto. We always say that the worst events on a trip become the best stories we tell about it later, but I’m not ready to laugh about this one yet. My greatest disappointment was the difficulty in getting to Cascia and arriving at the shrine of St. Rita shortly before it closed. It is a place that Rita has wanted for a long time to visit. When we have to make a choice to skip something on our trips it always seems to be Rita who gives up her dream and I was determined that it not happen this time. It was a difficult day, but it also brought us a moment of closeness as we hugged each other and reassured the other of our love. We had numerous moments to share the beauty of the Amalfi coast, the island of Capri and the art and architecture of Rome and Florence (Michelangelo’s David is magnificent!). The food was great and gelato at Giolittis is always a special treat. One of our joys in travel is the opportunity to meet people from different places and cultures and they were numerous – starting with a young man from Atlanta on his way to study in Italy – as we shared a bus ride from the airport into Rome.

As we prepared for this trip, we referred to it as a pilgrimage. We knew that a pilgrimage is expected to be difficult at times and now we are looking back and trying to understand the events of the voyage and where this pilgrimage has changed us. I think that will become clearer with time. I’m sure it was a success, though. I arrived home feeling very close to Rita.

We hope that travel on our next trip will be easier, but we are undaunted. We are already discussing where to go next.

We find that new places, new people, new cuisines and activities from which we can learn keep our lives and our relationship active and interesting whether it’s as simple as trying a new place to eat near home, travel in the U.S. or visiting foreign countries.

The ability to look at all of the things in our relationship and the experiences we have come from, are the result of our commitment to each other and the trust that we have chosen to place in each other and our desire to do what God wills for us. There were many tense moments as we traveled but we were able to get through them and enjoy the magnificence that only Rome has, the splendor that is Florence and the faith and simplicity of Cascia (St. Rita’s town) and Assisi. We are referring to this trip as our “body” tour. We were blessed to visit the relics and burial places of so many; St. Andrew in Almalfi, St. Monica, St. Ignatius Loyola, Blessed John the twenty third, St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as St. Rita, St. Francis and St. Clare. We were constantly reminded of the need for our faith in God and each other as we journeyed. We smelled the lemons in Sorrento, laughed at the boatman in Capri who referred to Bob as an American Stallion, were inspired by the magnificent artwork everywhere, found peace in all the Masses we attended, and were grateful for the moments of prayer in all the churches and before meals and the giggling we did as we licked the dripping gelato as we sat in plazas. As we set out on the trip we referred to it as a pilgrimage and it was. I am still trying to figure out where the pilgrimage is to end but it has given us much to evaluate as we reflect on the experiences we have had. That takes me back to where I began this posting. What in our/your relationship do each of us need to look at to determine what needs to cleaned up and cleaned out? That is what a pilgrimage is all about. While we hope to have a quieter summer, as we place things on our calendar we recognize that there will be some busy times, but seeing and rejoicing in the things we rediscovered on the trip will give the summer a new perspective. At one point on the trip as I was trying to make sense of the difficulties I realized that I had fallen in love with Bob all over again. Maybe that was the purpose of the pilgrimage for me. We invite you to make your summer a pilgrimage as well even if you don’t leave your neighborhood or town. Perhaps the goal/experience of your summer as well could be to fall in love with each other again. It could just change everything in your life. Give it a try.

Learn more about the Forever and a Day Workshop and other programs offered by Bob & Rita.
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime, is available on Amazon.com. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Check out our Marriage Enrichment Programs at readabookpress.com.


About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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