Crystal and Steven Oakes standing in kitchen smiling

We took ourselves on a marriage retreat

Last December, Steven and I decided to make our very own, personalized marriage retreat just for the two of us.

Ok maybe I decided, but in all honesty I have the most patient and amazing spouse who is “usually” up for anything I propose!

Was there something major wrong with our marriage? No! But we recognized that there were aspects that we both wanted to work on. It got to a point where work priorities and everyone else’s requests had started to overshadow the goals we were working to achieve. We are both highly ambitious people and sometimes we find ourselves working so hard to get to where we want to go, that we struggle to sit in the moment and enjoy the time we have together. We had even started to put each other’s priorities above our own, and to be honest, things just felt a bit out of balance. 

so we called a time out

A break and the necessary space to get on the same page before the new year. Of course, being the type A person that I am, I immediately started researching exercises and activities that we could do in order to clarify our goals and reconnect. God bless my patient husband! 😂🤷🏼‍♀️ 

We rented an AirBNB that allowed pets and loaded up the girls. We even bought groceries and planned meals so we could make this a true staycation. I seriously didn’t put on makeup the whole time and wore PJs every day we were there!

Why am I telling you this? Because I have had more clarity in my business and in my personal life than I have in years. This process of sitting down, sorting it out, getting on the same page, laughing a lot and crying a little IS necessary!! For me, I needed to remember that WE are in control of our lives – it is up to us to design a life we love and that takes communication, dedication and in some instances a little outside help to get there. 

Yes, I planned this time for us to reconnect as a couple, but it filled my cup in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I walked away with a renewed energy and a few major life lessons that will stick with me forever. Things that I have referenced over this past year many times in my life and in my business.

1. You HAVE to plan time for the things that matter!

If you don’t make space in your calendar for the important stuff, who will? I always say, “If it isn’t on the calendar, it won’t happen.” This includes just about everything shy of brushing my teeth. That week we got on the same page about a shared calendar and figured out the best ways to reserve space on each other’s schedule for connection time. We made space to show up for the other’s goals and worked out ways to protect the space we had on our schedules for our own goals. THIS is everything when it comes to prioritizing your time.

2. You can’t avoid the hard conversations

Steven is without a doubt my best friend. We laugh together, we go on adventures together, we stay in bed until noon some days just chatting and enjoying each other’s company and we both believe that tacos could be eaten for every meal. But in the midst of the fun stuff, it’s hard to find the time to talk about the serious things. If you don’t make this happen in your life with the people who are important to you, it’s easy to look up 5 years from now and have avoided those hard conversations for far too long. We decided to make it fun! We bought a card game on Amazon that helped us start the conversation. We did it our way!

3. You have to know your guiding values

When I put “write down values” on our agenda for the week we spent away (yes, I’m that person who made an agenda!) I thought it would just be a simple exercise we would do and then move on to some of the deeper things on the list. I was SO wrong! THIS was the exercise that shaped how we got through 2020. THIS was the conversation we needed together AND apart to ensure we were headed in a direction that served us. We needed to talk about what we value in life and take the time to understand why the other person values the things they do. THIS has led us to deeper connection and more ongoing conversations than I ever thought possible.


So much so that I made a brand new FREEBIE centered around this topic. I started to realize this year that so many people struggled with goal setting because they needed to take a step back and figure out what their values are. For both your life and your business, trust me when I say, this is an important exercise that if you truly take the time to do, will lead to much needed clarity for the upcoming year. Grab your copy here.

Did we do everything that we set out to do in 2020? Heck no! Hello, global pandemic, remember? But did we get through a hard season with a better understanding of ourselves and of each other? 1000x yes! We have a system to respect each other’s schedule, we understand each other’s values and we sit down and talk about the hard things when needed.

Whether you need to take these life lessons to heart when it comes to your spouse, your business partner or even yourself, here they are friends! Let’s make 2021 an amazing year to remember and start with some of the necessary basics to get back on track!


Set Your Guiding Values

Transform Your Sales Strategy!

Learn how to perfect your customer journey from first impression to retention. Gain insights from Crystal and the Oakes Creative House team through interactive sessions, expert guidance, and hands-on activities.

When: June 21, 2024, 9am-3pm

Where: Sandler, OKC

Cost: $175

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