Posts tagged relationships
Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Moms are a big deal. We should make sure they are celebrated more than one Sunday a year because moms (Most moms that is. I work with mother’s every now and then that don’t deserve any celebration.) shoulder incredibly responsibilities. So to all the mothers and soon-to-be mothers we salute you. Let’s have a moment of silence for all the amazing mothers……….Alright, moment over.
My wife is no exception. She is an amazing mom to our two kids. If she got a nickel for every hour of missed sleep because of our kids, she could buy us a small island in the tropics. This mother’s day was her third one to celebrate. For her first mother’s day I bought her this amazing leather bound photo book of our son with captions to her from him on each page. When she got it, she went straight to ugly cry. It was a case of daddy success!
Each year you have to step up your game a little. So guess what I got her for mother’s day last year? You ready for this? Absolutely nothing. In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. I wish I could say I forgot about the holiday, but I new it was coming. I wish I could say I had the flu, but I was as healthy as a Clydesdale. I wish I could say anything other than the flimsy excuse I gave. Here was my excuse “I didn’t get a chance to do anything.”
It’s certainly true that I was extremely busy at that time. I had a lot going on. There were dozens of irons in the fire that I was juggling. Yet, Mother’s day comes around the same time every year. I knew it was coming. I had good intentions. I planned to do something, at some point, eventually.
My wife doesn’t particularly care about having expensive gifts. She just likes to feel thought about and cared for. She likes to know that I took a few seconds of my time to think about her and communicate that I care for her. So when Mother’s Day came last year, she was naturally disappointed. She felt underappreciated, and rightly so! I had good intentions, but never acted on them.
Have you ever noticed we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but we usually judge others by their actions? In our marriages (and every other facet of life) our intentions don’t cut the mustard (whatever that means). Good intentions are pointless. Wives don’t feel appreciated by our good intentions. Romance doesn’t flourish through our good intentions.
Its’ so easy to give ourselves a pass because our intentions were good, and then get upset with our spouses when their actions fall short. So what am I saying? We need to be fair. We need to stop using our intentions as an excuse for not acting. We also need to cut our spouse some slack at times when their actions don’t meet our expectations. We need to judge ourselves by the same standards we judge our spouse. As the truisms go, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions and actions speak louder than words.” So how are your actions talking? Are you being intentional?
This year has been even busier than last year. Work has been extremely busy. We added another baby to the mix. We are close to finishing a house. The end of school fell right on Mother’s day for me. I could whine on and on, but you get the picture. It’s busy. You can relate. You are busy too. Right? Yet this year I decided not to cop out with my “good intentions.” I decided to act. I even tried to go the extra mile and redeem myself. This year she got another photo book and some Vera Bradley (which I hear is like Lisa Frank for grown ups).
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Alright, admit it, the title to this blog made you want to come read it, right? What could this post possibly be about? Kill your wife? Seriously? Yup, it’s the best thing for her. Well, how do you kill someone more than once? Isn’t that impossible? No, but it’s a necessity for a healthy marriage. But it doesn’t come naturally to us guys (at least it doesn’t for most men I have known, including myself).
You see, men are hunters. We like to chase things. We are up for a good challenge. We like to set goals, devise plots plans, execute those plans flawlessly and drag the trophy home. Its just how we work. We get laser-focused intensity on a single target and we go for it with gusto. Carpe Diem!
Ladies, let me ask you, how many different hobbies has your husband had? More than one? Several you say? Why is that? Because we get interested in something, read every detail there is to know about it, try to do it as many ways as possible, make sure we are better at it than any of our friends, perfect it, and then we are done. Once we make the kill, that is, once we master it, we move on. As an aside, the reason guys play golf for decades without ever losing interest is because it’s so incredibly difficult to master the game. The challenge keeps us going back to get frustrated that we can’t put a tiny, two inch, white ball into a four inch hole.
So how does this relate to marriage? Think about the first time you saw your wife gentlemen. Your radar went off, you focused, and you accepted the challenge. She became the hunted. It became your mission to catch this wonderfully beautiful (I am assuming she was beautiful, I understand that some ladies just have good personalities, and that’s alright. But she had better be beautiful to you. Get me?) creature. So you began to study her. You spent late nights on the phone. You spent money on frivolous items. You did things that you never expected to do. You did whatever it took to “catch” the person you are married to. Congratulations, you made “the kill” and you “dragged” her home (hopefully not kicking and screaming) to live with you.
The question is, what happens next? Now that the thrill of the hunt is over what are you doing? For many men, once they make “the kill” they move on to hunt something else such as a career, hobby, or having the nicest manicured lawn in the neighborhood. This is not how it should be, however. Marriage isn’t a one-time kill. That is, the hunt never ends. Think of marriage as a catch-and-release-then-hunt-what-you-let-go type of endeavor.
When you stop hunting your wife and fail to do many of the things that let her know you appreciate her, a natural drift occurs. Other things start to seem more important than your relationship. I get it guys, life gets busy after the “I do’s”, especially when you add some kids to the mix, but if you don’t have a good marriage it soils all the other areas of your life. As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life. Hunt her daily.
We are reminded in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The word “united” is the Hebrew word dabaq. It means to catch by pursuit or to pursue hard with affection and devotion. That is our calling guys, to pursue our wives daily with sincere affection.
How are we doing here? I am sure we have good intentions, but good intentions won’t make our wives feel loved or cherished, will they? We have to hunt daily. Continually be a student of our wives, remind them the how much we care about them, and invest significantly in their lives.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Years ago, some friends invited us over for dinner. We arrived early and visited for a while. As the evening moved forward our hostess announced, “We are having stew and cornbread for dinner.” I will be honest, going over to people’s houses for dinner always makes me a bit nervous. What will they be serving? I am generally not a picky person; nevertheless, there are certain dishes that my palate will turn up its nose at. I generally hope that peas, most beans, various forms of greens, and gamey tasting meat are not on the menu. My wife just hopes no meat is served on the bone.
It’s an awkward situation when you sit down to a meal prepared by friends that you absolutely hate. I have forced some nasty tasting meals down simply trying to be polite and show some etiquette. All that to say, that when our hostess announced stew and cornbread my mind breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. How I love stew and cornbread, so I ladled myself a heaping helping of stew and sat down to enjoy my dinner with some wonderful friends. As the first spoonful entered my mouth, a message was sent to my brain that said, “This taste horrible, we need to send it back out.” Luckily, my brain overrode the demands of my taste buds, and I choked it down. I rebuked myself mentally, “Idiot, you know to get a small bowl and do a test run before going whole hog on it.” Yet, my fate was sealed; I had to choke down most of that nasty stew.
Stew, how do you mess that up? What was the problem? The ingredients that went into it were the problem. It was filled with many things I don’t care for and it lacked any seasoning. To have a good stew, you need to put in some great ingredients. Now, you know this post is about marriage, and about right now you probably see what I am doing here. A marriage is only as good as what you put into it.
A lot of people want a wonderful marriage but neglect to put into it good, healthy ingredients. You have to invest in it. You have to push yourself to do things that don’t always feel natural. You have to have conversations that are not always comfortable. You have to celebrate the great success but also the tiny victories. You have to spend time communicating about important things and chatting about silly things that don’t make a difference. You have to laugh and weep together. You have to find time to take long walks and short drives. You have to put the kids early sometimes so you can watch a movie together. You have to send the other a message in the middle of the day. You have to be a support and friend. You have to deliver truth when it’s needed in love. You have to serve one another.
If you want to have a mouthwatering marriage then pay attention to what you’re putting into it. Are you taking the time to put in a variety of ingredients? Are they good and healthy ingredients? Because sometimes we put in things that are rotten and one rotten ingredient can ruin the whole dish. Are you adding spice and being creative?
We have a choice. We can concoct a bland, watery, dish marriage that you have to just choke down, or we can take the time to create a culinary masterpiece. It’s up to us, but it all boils down to what we put in it.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Marriage is something incredibly complex, but also beautifully simple. It is the process of two separate people merging into one, yet retaining their individual identities. It has its highs and lows. It holds its share of joys and times of sadness. At times it is smooth sailing and yet other times the couple finds that the storms of life have lampooned them on the rocks.
There are those that view marriage as an archaic institution. Some look at marriage with a skeptical eye. Many have experienced a poor marriage of their own or were the product of a dysfunctional marriage growing up. Some see the divorce rate and decide against tying the knot, but choose instead to take a different approach to doing life with someone else. Yet, society would do well to remember that all forms of relationships are fraught with problems. Deciding not to get married does not mean you get to avoid the problems that are often a part of marriage. It simply means you have the same problems without the commitment, which at times, is the anchor that strangely holds people together.
Even though marriages have problems (which is because they are comprised of two individuals that have problems), the actual benefits of marriage is astounding. Marriage offers benefits in the areas of health, finances and longevity that no other forms of relationships offer.
Surprisingly, for myself, one of the biggest benefits of marriage is that it taught me an incredible amount about who I am. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote that one should “know thyself.” Before marriage one should seek to have a good understanding of who they are, or they will lose their individual identity and potentially be resentful for this later. I believe, however, that one can only know his or her self to a certain degree before marriage because marriage does much to teach one about who they are, what they desire in life, their insecurities, shortcomings, and past hurts. Yes, marriage does indeed grow, stretch, and educate individuals about life.
But, as was previously said, there is a wealth of benefits from entering into a lifelong commitment through matrimony. On average, husbands and wives are more likely to live longer, healthier and happier lives than their single or cohabitating peers. Married men seem to boast the greatest health benefit from marriage, with single men have mortality rates that are 250% higher than married men and single women have mortality rates that are 50% higher than married women. Married men and women recover from illness quicker and more successfully than do those who are not married. Robert Coombs, a professor at UCLA states, “Virtually every study of mortality and marital status shows the unmarried of both sexes have higher death rates, whether by accident, disease, or self-inflicted wounds, and this is found in every country that maintains accurate health statistics.”
Married men and women have lowered risk of problems with mental health. Married couples report being happier than those who are not married. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than single or cohabitating mothers. Married men are half as likely to commit suicide as single men.
There are financial benefits to marriage as well. Married people earn more on average than do single people. Men are more successful at work, get higher appraisals on the job, and are more likely to get promoted. Married couples grow more wealth than do single people or cohabitating couples.
What about the sex? Married people have more sex than single or cohabiting men and women. Married individuals also report being more satisfied with their sex lives as well.
Marriage is also a safer place to be, with married women being at lower risk for domestic violence than single or cohabitating women. Married men are also less likely to be involved in violent crimes than single men.
Marriage is even good for society and children. It creates the emotional, social, and economic conditions needed for effective parenting. Children who have both parents living in the home are: 7 times less likely to live in poverty, six times less likely to commit suicide, less than half as likely to become pregnant, less than half as likely to commit crime and do better academically and socially. It also adjusts the lifestyles of individuals and alters their lives in ways that personally and socially beneficial.
We could go on discussing the benefits of marriage. The list is vast, but one can walk away with a picture of marriage that is vastly different than what is often portrayed. Marriage is a blessing. God had a specific purpose and intention when He designed the two to become one.
One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again. –Judith Viorst
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
I have heard a friend of mine often say, “Who can understand a woman, even on a good day?” I have often felt this same sentiment wash over me. Women are fascinating, and at times frustrating, to understand. We guys are easy, right ladies? I say that tongue in cheek. The question is often posed, what does it take to make a man happy? “Show up naked, bring food, and don’t block the TV.” Obviously, it isn’t that simple, but there is a kernel of the truth here. Yet, with women, the list doesn’t seem to be anywhere near that simple. In fact, many men are often baffled by their wives behaviors. Partly because many men are emotionally unintelligent and partly because the emotional lives of women are complex.
The Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, quipped, “Despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, I have not been to answer the great question: What does a woman want?” So what exactly do women want? What do we guys need to know? I don’t know how qualified I am to address this topic, but I thought I might take a stab at it. If nothing else, all the women that read this can tell me where I am wrong and help me better fill in the areas where I lack understanding.
I didn’t consult my wife for this blog, I thought that might be cheating in some way, so I will be curious for her to critique my thoughts as well. Some of my information comes from reading research, some comes from working with couples, and some comes from having lived with a woman. So, from the male perspective, here are what seem to be, many of the things women want.
First, I feel that the majority of women need to be reminded that they are valuable. They need to know that we need their presence in our lives. We must communicate how much we appreciate all the good, pleasant, and nice things they bring into our lives. Not only are our wives valuable for all the many things they do, but they are valuable for simply being who they are! We must remind them that they are incredibly valuable to us.
Second, they need to be heard. There is a difference in listening and hearing. A woman does not just want to be listened to, she wants to be heard. Hearing means we empathize. It means we validate their feelings. It means we give them feedback that we understand what they mean. Hearing does not mean we offer advice, unless it is solicited; it means we sit, hear their words, and show them that we care about what they are saying.
Third, women need to be respected. Respect ranks high on the list of what men need, but why should women be any different? In fact, everyone needs to be respected. Respect means that we honor the wishes of our wives. It means we don’t try to make them into someone or something they aren’t. When we respect our wives, we listen to their wisdom and never seek to manipulate them. We act in an honest way and treat them the way we would like to be treated. We include them in decisions because they are half of the relationship.
Fourth, women want to be secure. I did not say wealthy, I said secure. They want to feel safe. They want to know that we are planning and walking in wisdom. They want to know that the trip has a destination and that we are heading somewhere. Security involves planning. It involves denying what might be good in the present for what might be great down the road. When it comes to security, it means employing Dave Ramsey’s mantra of living like no one else now, so later, we can live like no one else. Women don’t just need financial security, they also need emotional security. There shouldn’t be any secrets. They should feel safe in being openly emotional with us. They should feel free to express whatever is on their hearts without fear of being demeaned or put down.
Fifth, women want to dream with their husbands. When my wife and I were dating, we often spent time sitting on a ledge overlooking a cliff, filled with plants and a gratuitous amount of butterflies. In those early days we dreamed about “having a ledge of our own.” We dreamed about kids, goals, and years filled with laughter. We still dream together. Sometimes we dream big, and sometimes they are small, modest dreams. I think women want to know that we envision a future that only has room for them. I think they want to be reminded that we only want them in our future.
Last, women want a husband that takes initiative spiritually. It’s easy to be a lazy spiritual leader. Yet, when we neglect the spiritual side of our marriages, we do so at great peril. I know many women that are forced to pick up the spiritual reigns in their family because the husband will not. This should not be so. Women need, and want, to see their husbands taking initiative in this area.
I know this list as by no means exhaustive, but, from my experience, I think I hit many of the high points. But, this is where we hear from you now ladies. What do you want from us guys? Enlighten us!
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Oh how Americans love to talk about love. Countless love songs have been penned. Numerous love stories are acted out before us on the silver screen. Many books have been written on the topic. Yet, never has one word been so abused, beat up, and perverted. Love is an accordion word, it is stretched and used in many different ways.
Love is a catch all term. People love everything from French-Fries, the latest movie, or a brand of clothing to their family or spouse. Some use the word love when they really mean lust. Thus, I love you means I really just want to sleep with you.
The word love, in its purest form, gets watered down by using it in offhanded ways. The Greeks recognized no single word could capture the many different facets of love, and so they used four different words to describe different aspects of our single word “love”. The words they used for love were: Storge, Phileo, Eros, and Agape.
It’s almost as if each of these words are pieces of the whole. That is to say, to have a complete and healthy love for one’s spouse these four different aspects of love must be present. We use these different types of love in different relationships, but only within the confines of marriage should all four be present.
Think of these four different types of love as the legs of a chair. If you are missing on leg on a chair, the chair is wobbly. If you are missing two legs, it is a balancing act to have the chair stay upright. If you are missing three legs the chair becomes dysfunctional. If you are missing four legs, you no longer have a chair. You simply have a cushion. Chairs are meant to have four legs. Marriages are meant to have four different aspects of love present. Each time a marriage loses a “leg of love” the consequences are immediately visible. Let’s take a look at the four different types of love.
Storge. This is the affection aspect of love. It is where we become familiar with another person and grow fond of having their presence in our lives. It is a basic form of love, but nevertheless it is very important. This is where the couple knows one another. It is knowing what my wife will order at just about any restaurant. It is knowing that she would rather watch television programming that involves solving crimes than a tear-jerking love story. Storge is knowing that she generally sleeps on her right side and would rather be doing something than sitting at home. It’s knowing that she can’t stay awake when she reads and that she won’t eat any meat if it is on the bone. It is appreciating the many intricacies and eccentricities that make her unique.
Phileo. This is simply friendship. It is enjoying the company of another person. Growing friendships is an art that has become lost on much of our society due to our individualistic mentality and lack of time to enjoy others. In marriage, friendship is about two people that enjoy simply being together regardless of the activity. Research has shown time and again that couples who have close friendships tend to have healthy marriages. Friendships don’t just happen, they are cultivated.
Eros. This is the romantic aspect of love. It is where we get our term “erotic”, though eros need not necessarily be sexual. Eros is the feeling of being loved or loving someone else. It is shown by doing things for the other person that pleases them simply for the sake of watching them take delight in what has been done. Eros involved leaving notes, buying gifts, giving compliments, or having a nice romp with your spouse between the sheets. Sex definitely does fall into this category, but so do many other elements. The Christian should be reminded that sex is part of a healthy marriage relationship. God created sex to be enjoyed, and couples who minimize this aspect of their relationship do their marriage a disservice. God could have created us to pollinate one another, but instead he created man with an act that serves to unite a couple both physically and emotionally. I would be curious to know how the angels responded when God pulled sex out of his back of tricks.
Agape. This is unconditional love. It is to love, as God loves, without concern of what one receives back. It does not concern itself with circumstances, only commitment. Agape endures. It doesn’t let go. Even when times are difficult it holds on. It weathers the storms and always places priority on the other person. It is selfless. It remembers that no one is perfect.
While there are times during marriage where one form of love is stronger or more visible, all four aspects of love are extremely important. There may be times when one “leg” is broken, and the couple must hobble along on three legs for a while. There may even be times where all one has is agape, the unconditional commitment, to stand on. While this isn’t ideal, or even enjoyable, it does keep a marriage intact. Yet, obviously, healthy marriages have all four legs balanced squarely on the floor.
How are the four legs in your marriage? Is your chair wobbly at all? What adjustments need to be made? Do you know your spouse as well as you should? Are you doing things to grow your friendship? Have you neglected to romance your spouse? Is your physical relationship lacking? Do you love unconditionally or do you give to get?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
“I hope we have a marriage like that one day.” I have heard people utter phrases like this countless times while watching another couple interact romantically. Upon seeing an older couple holding hands in public, couples will often say, “I hope we still hold hands when we are there age.” The question at the present however is, are you investing now in your marriage? Are you holding hands together now when you walk through the mall? If you aren’t investing in the relationship in the present, then it will never grow to where you want it.
Closeness within a marriage doesn’t just happen, it is cultivated. You don’t have a great marriage without putting serious work into it. You don’t get an amazing marriage by putting little into it, but you can get a really crummy marriage that way.
Hoping for a good marriage does little for your actual marriage. Dreaming about moonlight walks on the beach while holding hands has no impact on your marriage. To reap the benefits of a wonderful marriage you have to sow daily investments.
So how does one cultivate closeness? There are hundreds of different ways, and they are different for everyone. But at the core of growing closer with your spouse is talking together, dreaming and planning together, spending time with one another, being willing to overlook one another’s humanness, and reminding each other of the love you share. That seems pretty intuitive I know, but often couples ignore all of what should seem obvious.
How can two people draw closer if they don’t spend much time talking? This is one of the biggest ways you learn about your spouse. Every couple should sit time aside to simply talk and enjoy hearing about the other person’s day. It’s important to remember that talking also involves listening.
What dreams does your spouse have? Do you know? It is hard to support their dream if you don’t know what it is. It’s possible that you both have similar dreams. How can you support and encourage one another? What do you both hope to accomplish? Dreaming together about what your mission is as a couple does much to cultivate closeness in a marriage.
How much time do you spend with your spouse? There are so many distractions: work, kids, things to do around the house, working out, family, friends, church, and the list could go on. Yet, if you are not cultivating a relationship with your spouse all of these other things take on a limited meaning. If you don’t have a positive marriage it affects your children. Problems at home are carried to work. When a relationship begins to drift into a negative place an incredible amount of energy is spent trying to salvage and repair it and all of the other areas fall by the way side. Maintaining your marriage makes it easier to maintain other areas in life. Spend time with your spouse. Be proactive in blocking out time. You really have to fight for it at times, because if you have an open block of time there is always something or someone ready to fill it.
Couples that grow the closeness in their marriage are good about ignoring facets of their spouse’s humanness. Let’s face it. You married someone that was broken. You, yourself are broken. When you take two broken people and put them in the same house you can expect problems to arise. Yet, we will do well to remember that while some issues must be addressed, there are plenty of things we have to be willing to just over look. Pick the battles. If you nag and nitpick about every little thing that displeases you then you are providing a breeding ground for bitterness to take root. When people feel that can’t do anything right they often feel inclined to stop trying.
Close couples also remind one another daily that they care for each other. Recently, we bought “bath tub crayons” for our little boy to enjoy when he takes a bath. He does his two year old interpretation of Van Gogh on our shower wall. My wife and I have had more fun with those crayons than he has. Every time one of us showers we draw a picture or leave a note for the other on the shower wall. Cheesy? Probably. But who cares? It’s a silly way that we are both reminded that we care for one another. There are times where showing how much you care is done in a big way like flowers or dinner, but then there are the little ways like drawing on the shower wall. I think showing that you care is less about what you do and more about simply doing. It takes little time to send a text message in the middle of the day that says, “Hey, I am thinking about you.” Right? Right!
You can hope for a close marriage all you want, but you won’t have one until you start seriously investing in it.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Married? Looking for the fast track to bring your wedded bliss to an untimely demise? Then look no further! We have a list here that will expedite the process of making your marriage crash and burn! Not looking to sabotage your marriage? Then pay attention to how you live and the way you think about and relate to your spouse.
Sure, many marriages end due to big issues like infidelity or abuse, but often, marriages dissolve due to a number of smaller factors that converge into major problems. Even then, not everyone divorces; they just live miserable existences under the same roof and neither of these two options is desirable.
So here we have a list of ways to ruin your marriage. So, if you want a healthy marriage, I would find it beneficial to avoid the following list:
- Overfill your schedule.
- Prioritize your children over your spouse.
- Focus on all the things your spouse does wrong.
- Believe the grass really is greener on the other side.
- Compare your spouse to other people.
- Continually sweep problems under the rug.
- Keep secrets.
- Make life about having stuff.
- Believe that “time heals all wounds.”
- Ignore the spiritual component in your relationship.
- Set unreasonably high expectations for your spouse.
- Never admit you’re wrong.
- Assume the worst about your spouse’s intentions instead of believing the best.
- Expect your spouse to read your mind.
- Live in the past or the future.
- Practice unforgiveness.
- Wish your spouse could be like someone else’s spouse.
- Throw around the word divorce whenever you’re mad.
- Focus solely on your needs and wants.
- Be distracted when talking to your spouse.
- Rely on your spouse to make you happy.
- Let your spouse continually shoulder your responsibilities.
- Demean your spouse in front of other people.
- Have poor boundaries outside your relationship (parents, friends, kids, work, etc).
- Talk about your marital problems with someone of the opposite sex.
- Assume problems will get better on their own.
- Don’t allow your spouse to influence you.
- Be critical.
- Continually go to bed angry.
- Don’t carve out time for your relationship.
- Find your “old flames” on Facebook.
- View pornography.
- Talk down your spouse to others.
- Think that your marriage is the only one with problems.
- Bring up past mistakes that have been settled.
What are some other ways to ruin your marriage? What else should we avoid doing?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, I am committed to marriage”? “Things aren’t going the best, but I am one hundred percent committed to marriage.” I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I’m not committed to marriage; I am committed to a person. I didn’t marry marriage; I married this wonderful woman that sat at the table across from me in graduate school.
I don’t want a marriage where my wife and I have to say, “Well, we are committed to marriage.” I want a marriage that we are both excited to be in together. Granted, there are times in relationships where commitment is the only thing that holds two people together, and at least that is something, but it isn’t what I want. Even if my wife and I head into some dark days, I want her committed to me, not just the idea of marriage.
But what I really want is for my wife to be excited to hear the garage door go up because she knows I am pulling up the drive. I want her to look forward to weekends when I have time off that we get to spend together. I want her to look at the future with anticipation as we plan our lives together. I want her to rest at night filled with happiness instead of regret. I want her to be thankful for the person she married, not that she was simply able to change her Facebook status from “single” to “married”.
I see plenty of couples that sit down for marriage counseling and say, “We are committed to marriage” through clenched teeth. How do people get there? Once upon a time, these same two people were happy. They enjoyed life together. They felt strongly enough to make a commitment to one another. They couldn’t imagine life apart. How does a couple start off in love with one another and end up simply being “committed to marriage”? A big part of the answer to that question is that they stopped making the other person a priority. They got married and stop fostering the friendship that brought them together in the first place.
Marriage expert John Gottman says that friendship is at the core of a strong marriage. Happy marriages place an emphasis on maintaining a friendship. They invest in one another emotionally. They listen to the others fears, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. They take mental notes of what the other person likes and dislikes. They think about the other person in a positive light and overlook their shortcomings. In other words, they make the other person a priority. They keep things personal. They don’t invest in an idea. They invest in a person.
I don’t simply want to be committed to marriage. I want to enjoy a friendship with my wife that grows over time. This can only be accomplished if we are both willing to invest significantly in one another. A friendship of this nature requires constant attention and self sacrifice.
Are you investing in the person that you married? Are you taking the time and sacrificing your own wants and needs at times to grow the friendship with your spouse? Doing so will keep you enjoying a person instead of simply being “committed to a marriage.”
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Majority of the time, when a person is unhappy, it is often traceable to a difficulty within a relationship. Whether it is a marital conflict, trouble with the kids, or a rift in a friendship, our happiest and saddest moments in life revolve around our relationships.
I am reminded of a story that John Ortberg tells about having breakfast with a friend. His friend was from Michigan and not well acquainted with southern quinine. So as they sit together, his comrade notices grits on the menu. He then inquires of the waitress, “Ma’am, what’s a grit?” And the waitress replied, “Honey, they don’t come by themselves.” It is the same with us. “We don’t come by ourselves.” We are people in the midst of community. But, at times, we forget how chiefly important the relational aspect of our lives is.
We will never be happier than our relationships. Life offers many other pleasures, but if our relationships are in a bad place, our lives are in a bad place. We may attain a wealth of material possessions or achieve our highest aspirations, but all that life offers ultimately rings hollow if done so in isolation.
All of this is intuitive. We know how important our relationships are, but so often our lives become disconnected from what our minds and hearts know to be true. We affirm the idea that our families and friends are the upmost priority, but we easily allow our relationships to become out of sort. We become good at serving our spouse, kids, family, and friends our sloppy leftovers of time.
Life is busy. Schedules get overbooked. There are millions of things that vie for our time and attention. I am increasingly learning, however, that life will supply me with plenty of things to fill any amount of empty time I have. So often, we assume that time we have with those we love most is expendable. We overbook and overfill our lives at the expense of the people we love most, and as a result our relationships start to slip.
No one ever gets engaged and then decides, “Well, let’s get married and then spend less and less time together.” “Let’s each pick up different hobbies, activities, and responsibilities, and just drift apart over the next twenty years.” No one signs themselves up for a decrease in marital intimacy and satisfaction. Yet, if we aren’t careful to guard our time and maintain our priorities, life will edge its way into our marriages and erode the intimacy and friendship that is there.
No one plans to have kids with the goal of being absent from their childhood, but there are plenty of things to distract us from spending time with our kids. No one begins friendships with the sole purpose of watching them fizzle out. It is incredibly easy for so many things to get in the way.
Relationships are an investment of our time. Our time is limited. We cannot cram an extra minute to any of our days. If we don’t give enough of our time to invest in what we say is our priority, we can expect for there to be mounting damage done to our relationships. If we don’t allow ourselves the rest to invest emotionally in our relationships, we can expect distance in those relationships. If we allow other things, even good things, to take priority over the people we love, then there will ultimately be a high price to pay.
We will never be happier than our relationships. The question is, how much of our time, attention, and energy are we putting into those relationships?
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. –Matthew 6:21
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.