I’ve been married a collective 34 years. I first said “I do” at age 20 (1980). At age 45 (2005) I became a widower and then married again at age 48 (2007). I think it’s safe to say that I’ve experienced some real ups and downs when it comes to marriage. I’ve had seasons that were amazing and I’ve had seasons that were difficult. I have discovered that there are several thing s that are so simple, than when incorporated into the day to day marriage, will radically improve your marriage. Don’t get all “here’s the key we’ve been looking for” on me. These are again, SIMPLE. Nonetheless, they are powerful tools to keep you on track.
1. Never stop pursuing each other. I know you’ve added a few pounds and even more wrinkles, but that’s who God picked as your best friend, sweetheart and lover for life! Get after it! When you know she loves flowers – buy em! When you know he loves steak – grill em! When you know the things your spouse loves and you move everything you can to accommodate their desires, you are actually conveying that you value them! When you convey value, you are conveying love. If movies are your deal – see em! If dinner/cocktail parties are your deal – host em! When Jenny and I married in 2007, I learned pretty quickly that she loves hosting dinners and parties in our home. For the record, I hate that and gripe about it any opportunity I get (never said I did all this well). I recall a few years ago that she committed us to a dinner party at a friends house on the night of the Super Bowl. A dinner “get together” with a few other couples – none of which cared about football. AChuck was the biggest baby about it. All the way there, I kept saying things that are not marriage builders, and certainly not pastoral (yikes). But, we have never done that again. My sweetheart sent a little value and love my way by recognizing that I’m a football junkie. She watches most games with me now! And I’ve learned to actually have friends and host dinner parties…and enjoy it! It’s not really hard. It’s about loving your spouse enough to want them to enjoy their heart’s desire above yours. When we do that, life is a lot of fun together. Just to make one more point about this value/love thing – I now attend art shows and sunflower festivals and Jenn schedules them around Georgia football. Life is good and I adore our life together!
2. Create sacred space and time. At 56, it’s pretty easy to leave for work, come home pooped and sit in front of the television with dinner. Watch a few shows and go to bed. When our routine leaves no room for meaningful discussions or opportunities to share what our lives were as we were apart, we fill what could be intimate, loving moments with mindless television or web-surfing. Commit to time without social media, email, phone calls and television. Just last night, Jenny and I sat on the front porch with a small table between us playing cards (yes, I won) and laughing at our competitive nature. We watched the cars go by, the sun go down and the fun together go up. Create sacred space each day, and create date nights weekly, if possible. If you’ve got little ones, maybe once a month. The simple fact that you have little ones says something about your sacred time together and ya’ll weren’t playing cards – WINNING!
3. Commit to eliminate assumptions and uncertain expectations. I hear it all the time – “He should know what I mean” or “She should absolutely know that about me by now.” Here’s a news flash – THEY DON’T! Most marriages don’t fall apart because of cheating spouses (although that would appear to be the case based on my counseling schedule). They fall apart because we don’t “hear” what our spouse “says”. We hear what we hear and we say what we say, often with barbs and sarcasm so thick that whatever we say is confusing. Ladies, he might be the most wonderful husband on earth, but he doesn’t understand more than 70% of what you are telling him. Be simplistically elementary. And guys, a grunt and a nod that is a meaningful, deep conversation with your buddy doesn’t mean jack to your wife. When we actually talk with our spouses (back to sacred time) we learn so much about them…and you are to never stop learning. That’s true intimacy! If you feel hurt or wounded, speak without drama so as to be understood, not heard. And guys, when she wants to know how your day was, she’s looking for more than UUHHGGG.
I know it’s simple, but these physical actions will significantly improve your marriage, your intimacy, and your fun! Later this year, Jenny and I will be hosting a two week Group on Making Love AND Marriage at Sugar Hill Church – Don’t miss it!
I’d love to hear your thoughts!