With this week being an open topic, I have struggled with what to write (procrastinating till the night before doesn't help either). I thought about sharing some of our favorite marriage books, but honestly, I can do that in about one sentence (if you're needing a good book on marriage, we recommend Love and Respect or Sacred Marriage). I could tell you to speak each others love language, because if you don't, you won't make sense to your spouse (For help on this, I've heard the Five Love Languages is a great help. It's on our "to-read" list). But when Drew and I sat down last night and hit some ideas back and forth, we decided that the most important thing to close on was not a laundry list of things we've read or done to help our marriage. Truth is, I have more "what not to do's" than "to-do's".
It’s no secret that marriage is hard work. Like, REALLY hard work. But if you get to the starting line of marriage with no compass or direction, it’s easy to fall astray into the thinking that a good marriage will somehow fall into place if you just do life. The problem with that thinking is that it doesn’t take into account the daggars the enemy throws our way. Marriage is Satans greatest enemy. He wants us to stumble and fall, to get mad at our spouse because they didn’t take out the trash right or didn’t hang up their clothes when asked. This is why it's so important to be intentional about marriage (and I would add parenting too, for we all know that a good, solid kid does not happen by coincidence).
PRAY FOR YOUR SPOUSE AND WITH YOUR SPOUSE Stormie Omartian has some great resources for prayer if you're not sure where to start on praying for your spouse. I tend to pray for Drew when I'm getting ready in the morning. I feel like prayer helps us be intentional with our thoughts about our spouse, and helps us empower them to be all they can be, both in our marriage and outside of it. I already touched on praying with your spouse in last weeks post, which you can read HERE. DREAM WITH YOUR SPOUSE
I've had to learn this one a little, as I'm not the dreamer in our relationship (can I just say, nothing freaks a realist out more than the dreams that a dreamer can throw out?! I've adjust for the most part now, but when we first got married, I would have full on panic attacks with some of the ideas Drew would tell me he had... ha!). Drew and I do dream on occasion. We talk about where we want to be in "x" amount of years. What will we be doing? Where do we want to be financially? Spiritually? As parents? I can honestly say that this is probably one of my favorite parts of marriage, is having someone to dream with and create ideas with. Never stop dreaming with your spouse. FIND OLDER COUPLES WHO WILL INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE
If ever there was a point I could scream THISSSSSSSSSSSS, this one would be it. And when I say "older", I say that term loosely. Some of the greatest advice I receive is from people who are just 1 step ahead of us. For the past 2 years we've been involved with a small group at church that is of all stages of life. It was the first time for us to experience a group that wasn't all our age and I have LOVED it. There's just something invaluable about having another couple to bounce ideas and frustrations off of. I would also add to this point that I have enjoyed getting to know older women outside of their marriage as well. Mentoring really is a great tool to marriage, and life in general. Never be too proud to ask someone for advice. Most people who have blazed a trail ahead of you are more than willing to lend a helping hand to those behind them. You need only ask. (Drew also wanted me to add that being in accountability group really helps keep you focused on being intentional not only in marriage, but in life. This is a big passion of Drews and we both feel like there's a huge need for individuals and for couples to quit withdrawing and to engage with others.)
STAY ENGAGED WITH OTHER COUPLES
This is similar to the above point, but after hearing it repeated at my sisters wedding this past weekend, I can't help but put it on this list. The pastor who married my sister said to be hospitable. Because when other people come into your home, it's hard to hide your true self. Invite people into your lives. Allow others to see how you operate as a couple.
I'm sure there are other ways that you can use to be intentional, and I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on how you are intentional with your marriage and/or in life. One of the keys that keeps me grounded is something I learned when I read Sacred Marriage many years ago: Marriage is not meant to make us happy, but to make us holy. When we go into a relationship looking for happiness, we will always be disappointed. Instead, we should chose to see that despite our spouses failures (or perhaps in light of them), mistakes and hang ups, that the end result of it all is not for us to find happiness or discontentment from it, but to be transformed into something far greater than we could ever be than if walked life alone. Drew's not perfect. He has a lot of quirks and sillies that sometimes agitate the fire out of me (and don't worry... I'm grounded enough to know he can say the same about me!). But with Drew, I am a far better person than I am apart from him. He is the one who God has made to make me more like Him. And that, my friends, is worth being intentional about. And definitely worth fighting for.
Have a piece of marriage advice that you'd like to share? Feel free to link up with us!