Pursuing Transformation: Building a stronger marriage

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This is my handsome husband. His name is Chris and I think he’s a stud. I spotted him across the classroom in French 101, right away taken aback by his charming good looks, blonde hair, and his beautiful blue eyes. Sitting nearby when given the chance, asking him what page the professor was telling me to turn to, and receiving a wink in return, I couldn’t help but blush- I was crushing hard. Several weeks into hanging out, and a few cocktails into the night, the words, “I have high hopes for us…” and, “I think I love you” flew out of my mouth before I could think twice about them. Although my timing was most definitely a bit crazy (blame it on the alcohol... cue Jamie Foxx), I don’t doubt those words because that boy had my heart way before I even knew it. 10 years and a whole lot of fun later, I have the privilege of calling him my husband and those winks still get me.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been doing a series about Pursuing Transformation. It started with this proclamation that I made back in January, pinpointing five areas of my life where I want to see growth in 2015 - and I’ve been checking in with each area, sharing where I'm at and encouraging you to do the same.

This week I’m onto my last goal (!!!) and that is, to invest in building a stronger marriage.

Years before getting married, I heard a sermon from pastor Steve Sonderman about marriage. It wasn’t your standard, run of the mill, love each other, be faithful, sort of marriage talk – it was all about the importance of dating your spouse. His focus for the message was that even more so than before marriage, your relationship with your spouse needs to be cared for, nurtured, protected, and most importantly invested in – and that continuing to date each other played a big role in that. He talked about how, too often, all the hard work, the charming, the getting dressed up super cute, the sweet talking, the flirting, the fancy date planning, the focus on fun, happens before marriage but then falls under the radar after.

With just about four years under our marriage belt, I can totally attest to that statement. Now that we’re married, and the honeymoon phase has worn off a bit, dealing with Chris’ crazy work schedule, my evenings of volleyball or bible study, and then with the craziness of summer activities and packed weekends, we’re lucky if we even eat a meal together, let alone have a date night! It’s not that we don’t want to have fun together, or to enjoy getting dressed up, staring into each other’s eyes in a romantically lit restaurant filling our bellies with a mouthwatering steak and washing it down with a full bodied glass of merlot and a creamy, decadent spoonful of crème brûlée. It’s just that as of late, neither of us takes the time to plan it.

Thinking lots about this pending blog post, and asking myself how or if I have yet to make steps towards investing in our marriage, I can’t help but come back to this idea of dating. Going back to Steve Sonderman’s message, I really appreciated his approach to the marriage discussion; but what really stuck with me was the example that he gave of him and his wife. He said that they have a commitment to date each other weekly, have an outing monthly, and travel yearly. I remember hearing this and thinking, “that is awesome!” It seemed so inspiring, so fun, and so… simple.

Investing in my marriage doesn’t have to be this difficult, sit down and read a marriage book or do a strengths finder test and discuss how we could do better as a couple. It can be as simple as going on a date. But here’s the thing, even that doesn’t have to be super fancy. That’s fun every once in awhile, yes, but the most important thing about having a date with your husband is, intentionally spending time together.

This past weekend, I found this to be so true as Chris and I had a really great, much needed chunk of alone time. Instead of going out to dinner Friday night and seeing a movie on Saturday like we had originally brainstormed, we never left the house - and it was great. Friday night consisted of sitting in the backyard, eating steaks on the grill, enjoying a few Moscow mules, playing a bunch of games of cribbage, kissing a bit (duh), and sharing a lot of laughs. It was perfect – we reminisced about the early days of Chris and Mindy, poked fun at each other when the other lost the game of cribbage, and just soaked each other in (as cheesy as that may sound). And then Saturday was even better – sleeping in, eating a late brunch, and plastering ourselves to the couch making sure to cuddle and take bathroom breaks we watched ridiculous movies (umm.. Sharknado?! We might have watched the marathon on the SyFy channel... what?! Insert wide eyes blushing emoticon) and then finished the night with another game of cribbage and fell asleep on the couch. It was seriously, exactly what we needed.

We’ve had weekends where it’s looked pretty similar to this, but I think the difference was – this one was intentional. There was plenty we could’ve done, probably should’ve done – but both of us knew that we hadn’t spent much time together and that the week ahead didn’t foster much time to see each other’s faces so we chose to do nothing but spend time together.

I am so thankful for Chris.  He’s my rock, my safe place, my comfort when I’m a hot mess, he gives a perfectly timed wink when I’m feeling insecure, and he’s the perfect balance to my crazy 12-at-heart self.  I am sooo thankful that God brought us together, that I get to call him my husband, and that this weekend gave me a really good chance to focus on that.

My prayer is that moving forward, as I continue to think about how I can invest in building a stronger marriage, that I would look back on this weekend and remember the benefit that simply spending time with one another had for both of us. And that I would be challenged to make it more of a habit.  Going into the week I feel reconnected, refreshed, and very much in love with my husband – and I am thankful.

If you’re in a place where you need to reconnect with your spouse – do it. Make the effort, cancel your other plans, carve out time for each other, and go on a date, play some games, be silly, or do absolutely nothing and just soak up time spent together. It is so so worth it.

And if you’re not in this place, my prayer is that you wouldn’t feel singled out (too punny?) or neglected in any way by me speaking about my marriage. You are valued, you are loved, and you have great worth right where you are.


-- image by Marissa Maharaj -- 

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