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Investing in Marriage

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Why is it that marriage is often an after-thought? Or just a part of life? Who here is guilty of not making your own a priority? I can’t see you raising your hand right now, but if you are, I get it.

I have been thinking about this off and on for a while, but it really occurred to me this morning when I saw it happen in my own life. Here’s the random way it came about:

I have never been someone who cleans on a schedule, but I do love my lists. So I decided to make a magnet chart for myself to keep track of cleaning I have done during the week. Because, let’s be honest… I’ve found myself wondering “Did I clean the bathroom yesterday? Or was it last week? I know I thought about it yesterday, but did I actually do it?” It’s hard to tell when there’s toys all over the bathroom again. So I was going to make myself a chart to help me remember. Anyway, as I was jotting down cleaning ideas, I started writing down goals, priorities, and other to-dos for each week.

Work in the garden
Have time with Jesus
Get out one night per week with a friend
Bake something with Adelynn
Do a project for myself – for fun

I thought I was done. Until I realized I had included my kids, Jesus, friends, myself, other family and… Oh. Make sure I have a date night with my husband too.

OUCH.

And this is nothing against Dave. I love him so much. But when things are comfortable in life, it’s harder to nurture them. When you’ve worn a pair of jeans for so many years and you know what they can withstand, you don’t put them on the delicate cycle in the wash. You know they are made to handle whatever you put them through. You picked them out, they fit you just right, it’s like they know you, and you love them. Now, jeans are no comparison to your spouse. Not by a mile, but that’s what I’ve got right now 🙂 In the same way, God gave you your spouse, you know their value and you love them. However, sometimes, or maybe even often, your spouse could use a trip through the delicate cycle.

What’s really unfortunate is the world’s view of marriage. It seems to be the thing to do to dog your spouse to your friends or coworkers. How sick is it to make a sport of complaining about your spouse? It’s sad to me that there aren’t better things people could use their time for and that these unsuspecting spouses don’t know any different. A better alternative is to take a moment to speak positively about your spouse to others. Why wouldn’t you?? You love them, tell people about it! We had some friends get married this Fall and we wrote a note of encouragement to them:

“Never miss an opportunity to say something positive to your spouse, never miss an opportunity to say something good about your spouse to others, and never miss an opportunity to shut up.”

And they are doing just fine in their marriage 🙂

The Bible instructs us to love our spouse second only to God. His instructions and plans for our lives are perfect. And we all know that once the kids are out of the house, we get the rest of our lives with our spouse. The spouse God chose for each of us. The spouse we have grown to love even more over the years.

Take a minute and think about what would happen if you didn’t nurture the relationship with your spouse. What if you became roommates? You divided bills, chores, parenting, etc. You might be doing that now in your marriage, but what if your communication only went that far? What if your marriage became a business-only relationship? How empty would that be? That makes me sad to even think about! I really look forward to the rest of my life, and not only the part where I get to raise the kids God gave me, but the part where I get to retire and spend my days with the love of my life!  I don’t want to be one of those old couples who barely feels like they know each other anymore because they lost out on all the years where they could have been nurturing their marriage.

If you only invest your life in your kids, church, community, whatever. What is left for your spouse? And what is left when all you have left is your spouse? That’s a lonely feeling I don’t plan on having.

I have been reading a book on my Kindle app called “Creating an intimate Marriage” by John Burns. He talks about the importance of a date night each week. Since I have been reading this and attempting to implement a weekly date night, I’ve realized it’s HARD! Life is busy. But the date night is SO rewarding. For us, our date nights tend to involve putting the girls to bed and calling a night-owl family member to come sit on our couch and watch TV or read a book while we go do something together. It’s usually an hour during the week and that hour makes such a huge difference in our lives, hearts, and attitudes. It makes my day just knowing I get to spend some quality time with my husband. And it often makes my day the following day because I enjoyed it so much. It’s usually late night appetizers or coffee, and it doesn’t matter what we are doing, it’s just enjoyable to be together. Tonight we simply sat on the front porch with some dessert. We once went to our town’s largest grocery store to do some grocery shopping together on date night. That was when we decided that we are officially old.

I don’t care though! We are going to be spending time at the grocery store for the rest of our lives. Dave always asks me what is on the calendar (that we share on our phones). He could look, but he always asks me first. But date night? Even though it has only happened a few times and it’s on random nights each week, he always remembers date night. It’s important to husbands too.

Maybe you don’t live near family and you want to implement a date night. Do a trade off with friends if you like the post-bedtime thing. Let one of them come to your house while you go out and you can go to theirs on their night out. Or take turns going out on a dinner date. Drop the kiddos off and let your friends feed yours, then another night, feed theirs. That takes care of childcare, but what if money is tight? Budget for it! I just got an Applebees gift card for redeeming the points we get for Recyclng! RE-CY-CL-ING!! That’s going to be a date night for half price appetizers one night. Or if you can’t go anywhere after bedtime, take a snack and the baby monitor to the back yard where there’s no distractions.

One benefit of date night is being able to have conversations that would normally be interrupted by kids or would be distracted from by things going on at home. When kids are around or messes surround us, sometimes focus is altered. Some of our best conversations in our marriage have taken place while we were out on dates. Conversations that are not about work, the kids, or our schedule. Conversations that just make me fall in love with him all over again because I get to see his heart outside of being a dad, working on computers or focusing on something else. You’re able to talk about goals, dreams and ideas and you’re able to remember what you love most about them. You’re reminded of their heart and what makes them tick. (And for me, it’s how my husband’s brain works. It’s fascinating!)

What if things in your marriage are hard right now? Like, really hard? All the more reason to start working on it! If you don’t like your spouse right now, but you like your kids, then do it for them. What more can you do for your kids than to love their other parent and show them what a marriage looks like? Not only will it make a home peaceful, but it gives them something to strive for. Is your marriage right now something you wish for your kids? Is it good enough for them? Maybe. But there’s always room for improvement.

I can not think of one downside to dating your spouse. If you can think of one, call me out on it. But I challenge you to start making dating your spouse a priority in your life. It does everyone’s heart some good.

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