Thursday, January 19, 2012

Giving your Marriage More than just the Leftovers

One of my favorite photos of my husband and I, taken 3 years ago.

When was the last time you sat down and had a great conversation with your spouse? On the tail end of a week of stressful conflict, my husband and I recently had a wonderful coffee date.  We had already spent enough time talking through the issues, which we both later agreed were trivial. Our coffee date was just for fun.  We sat in a pastry shop holding hot mugs, looking out at the cold winter day and sharing our ideas, plans, goals, and thoughts with each other. This conversation spilled over into the rest of our week, and we came together at several different points to continue the dialogue.  This awakened in me all over again the delight of discovering my husband.

Cross cultural life involves stress and adaptation issues that can be hard on a marriage.
Caring for a home, homeschooling and cultivating a relationship with two teenagers takes a lot of time and energy. I count ministry here as a privilege, but visits, phone calls, guests and meetings make it easy to over-schedule myself.  Before I know it, it seems like there’s not enough of me to go around, and it’s easy to come to my husband with just the left overs.  Not enough energy to talk by the time the guests leave and the kids go to bed.

Five years ago, during a high point of cross-cultural stress and low point in our marriage, my husband and I watched the Alpha Marriage Course together on DVD.  It was wonderful encouragement on many issues like appreciating differences and conflict resolution.  As a result of this course we started a weekly marriage time for fun dates, planning, and, ahem, conflict resolution.

Two years ago we went on a prayer retreat for couples at Glen Eyrie, the Navigators retreat center in the US, and came away more inspired than ever to seek spiritual oneness.  That’s when we started daily prayer together before breakfast.   (You might wonder while we waited until our 15th year of marriage to start this.  It’s a good question.)

These are the anchors of our marriage:

Weekly Date time: 
No matter how busy things get, or how hard it is to get a word in edgewise around the dinner table with two talkative teenagers, we know we’ll have a special time together before the week is out. If there’s a problem we haven’t gotten to talk through, we know we’ll have a chance.

Daily prayer together: 
We take 5-10 minutes to pray together before breakfast every morning.  We pray together at other times as well, but when our schedules threaten to crowd out our spiritual oneness, we know we at least have those daily ten minutes.

I always come back to the fact that our marriage is far more important than our ministry. I want to take special care to cultivate my relationship with my mate and closest life-long friend.

My question for you:  What advice do you have for maintaining and renewing our most important relationship?

Here are some helpful marriage-related links that are still fresh:


Alida said...

I think the date times and the times of praying together are important.

We also like to laugh...we find that the more times we laugh together the closer we feel to one another.

OliveTree said...

Amen to laughing together! I agree one hundred percent.

us5 said...

we closely guard our Monday night dates, and we pray after breakfasts :) both are so healthy! in addition, we do like to try to take some time away together, at least once, sometimes twice a year. i'm just sad that it took me so long to realize how important all these things are to my husband...and also to the vitality of our marriage!