Monday, October 14, 2013

Marriage.......on the Menu

Been married for a wonderful 17 years and have enjoyed many moments as well as regretted a few too! There is no perfect marriage and you figure that out as soon as you get back from your honeymoon. Seems like everywhere I turn, young couples are really struggling and some are actually drowning as today's culture permeates any and all values they might have had on their wedding day. I meet a lot of people with good intentions about their marriage but I can't help but feel like it's something on a menu. "It it works out, great- I'll keep ordering it up but if this crazy thing called marriage doesn't work out....I'll order up something else." The culture in American would have one believe that marriage is not to be taken seriously and is not a qualifier for commitment.

A healthy marriage needs a few key ingredients and this is what has worked for us.

1. A commitment to communicate effectively-

I have no problem communicating, in fact, I probably over communicate and with some loud and extreme body language. But, the key is to communicate 'effectively'. Proverbs is full of tips on how to communicate- with a gentle tongue, slow to anger.......etc....Basic stuff- slow down and listen to your spouse, repeat back what he said and stay on topic. The point is....COMMUNICATE and do so with love. Yelling constantly at one another or ignoring poor behavior in each other all together is not a wise choice.

2. A commitement to time together-

We have always tried to make it a priority to do stuff together with just the 2 of us. We have 4 kids under the age of 10 so our house sounds like a circus losing control to the Wizard of Oz monkeys! It's loud, it's crazy, and sometimes messy! At the dinner table, Paul and I just look at eachother and the expressions on our faces says it all- "Let's just talk later". We put the kids to bed and run down the stairs and pull out the ice-cream and turn on the Voice! It's a major crime for kids to get up out of bed in our house. This is "mommy and Daddy time". We also invest cash into lots of dates out of the house and every 5 years we go away somewhere romantic and amazing for a week.

3. We talk about EVERYTHING-

You may think this is the same as bullet #1 but it's not. I'm not talking about 'how' we communicate but talking about the content. We literally talk about everything: work, sex, kids, hobbies, passions, relationship with God, our weaknesses, strengths, friends, and even about YOU! :) We decided early on in our marriage that we would NOT be roommates just coexisting together for the sake of  'staying married'. We will "live" life together in the bad times and the good times.

4. A commitment to God

If you are truly committed to serving and pleasing our Savior and loving Him, then you have no choice but to love your spouse. Reading the Bible and learning about His Grace and His love for us only grows us closer together. It's when I stray from my communication with God that my relationship with Paul begins to quiver. Something else that is quite spectacular about a commitment to God is that He spurs within us a desire to grow as a person and that means cleaning out our closets. You heard me- that means I have to deal with my crap and the skeletons of insecurity, private sins, pride, selfishness and even my past childhood abuse. I have to face down my demons in order to grow with Paul. Only God can pick us up, dust us off, wash away the junk from the past and issue us a new beginning. This is the most important part of our marriage- our nucleus- so to speak.

So, if you're married - treat it as a commitment not something on a menu. Not everyone is as fortunate as myself. I married an amazing partner. He is willing to communicate and talk with me as we face our challenges in marriage together. I understand that some of you are married to people who are not quite so willing. We cannot control other people but we can dominate our actions with God's love and we can hope. There is always hope. Be who God called you to be in your marriage.

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