Imagine, Part 2

In my previous blog I spoke about the need to imagine a better marriage, a closer more fulfilling relationship in which you enjoy being together and where you truly feel like best friends.  How is that possible?  How do you get close to each other when there are so many nagging issues making you so annoyed you could just spit?  How many times have I told him about…?  I wish she would just… and get over it already?  Why does she have to keep nagging and nagging about the same old things?  Why don’t we ever just hug and cuddle like we used to?  It seems that we are so busy and we never get enough time together.  Why does it seem like we are drifting apart?

Why indeed.  Relationship Drift is seldom caused by one or two incidents.  It develops over a long period of time, with many of the same incidents happening over and over again.  The painful hurts caused by words spoken in anger or insults and insensitivity add up into a heaping pile of pain that now you just ignore and bury.  This leads to a dull numb lifeless relationship.  Too much pain and too many issues have broken your relationship apart so that a cool distance now dominates your day to day interaction.  Moments of intimacy are few and far between and usually accented by another fight or disagreement.   If this sounds like your relationship with your spouse, then you have choices to make.  “Really?  I have choices?”  Yes, you do have choices.

First Choice:  Accept the status quo and live with a lifeless loveless relationship that will eventually get worse.  Keep in mind that doing doing nothing rarely results in the relationship getting better.  This is a fatalistic approach that builds on the lie that “it will never change”.  Have you ever heard that lie?  Maybe you’ve spoken that lie to yourself in the past.  Maybe you’re still speaking that lie to yourself even now.  During these moments when we listen to the lie, we usually drop into apathy, telling ourselves that it’s really bad and it will never change, but I don’t care anymore.  Or we attack our spouse to force them to change or else.  Attacking and apathy are not recommended solutions.

 Second Choice:  This is a tough one.  It requires that you sooth yourself and calm yourself down.   Visualize a better relationship.  Imagine a closeness that approaches a nine or nine and a half on a scale of ten.  Now, the next two steps are really tough.  First, work every day at loving and accepting your spouse.  See the positive and verbally relate your appreciation daily.  Surely the things that annoy you won’t immediately go away, but purpose to focus on the positive.  Second, reflect on what you can change about yourself that will make the relationship better.  Focus on personal growth.  What can I do to be a better husband or better wife?  Finally, work at these two EVERY DAY.  Be patient.  Don’t expect immediate change.  Be thankful for any progress.  Love unconditionally. 

 Yes, you can imagine it if you try.

The Importance of Friends

A while ago we took a trip to the beach with friends for a few days and I was deciding which games to bring to pass the time since it looked like there would be rain.  That led me to ponder how much fun we were likely to have no matter what we did!   We went with 2 of the couples we meet with weekly.  One of the husbands, a teacher,  celebrated the last day of the school year.  The rest of us were just happy to get away from the daily grind for a while.

I am so thankful for the couples we meet with weekly.  We talk a lot on this blog about communication between husband and wife, about selfless service, listening and meeting needs.  That is all so essential for a good relationship.  But have you ever thought about how important it is to have other like-minded committed couples that you know well, and who know you well too?  They can add so much to our lives that we’d miss without them.

It takes time to develop the closeness I’m talking about but it is worth it.  Being a good friend will go a long way towards building  the trust needed  to have a relationship where all couples can share openly.  We all tend to open up at different rates depending on our background, but a good friend will be patient.

The benefits go both ways when couples relate on a deeper level.

Of course there are the fun times like we had.  Laughing and joking around lower our stress levels.  Often, playing together will open us up for sharing of trials and struggles, and problem solving together.

Sometimes we include families and other friends.  Then we get to see our friends relating to their loved ones, deepening our knowledge of them.  We begin to see creative and amazing ways they relate to their family; things we may want to adopt for ourselves to improve.  In the process we will notice hurtful or destructive habits and behaviors also.  If our relationship is close we can see those blind spots, point them out gently, and share ideas about what might work better.

And most importantly, we will know how to specifically pray for our friends.  We’ll be able to uphold them in their struggles and help in times of need.  In turn, they will do the same for us!  Our marriages will be improved and our lives enriched in the way that only serving others can do.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.       Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

It Only Takes 5 Minutes

Sometimes when time is short we tend to focus on the urgent tasks and not on our loved ones.  But being busy isn’t an excuse to ignore our spouse.  He or she is just as important to us in busy times and really, when aren’t we busy?  If it is a chronic state for you, then it is crucial for you to think of some easy  and quick ways to show  your spouse you cherish him!

Here are some fun things you can do:

  • Going to the grocery today?  Walk through the bakery section to pick up a cupcake, a chocolate éclair, or something else your spouse likes. Share it after the kids go down.  Make sure to tell him why he’s getting treated.
  • When he is at the desk doing the bills give him a quick neck rub because you appreciate his efforts.
  • Make a big sign (the bigger the better) and hang it up in front of where he parks his car at home.  Say something endearing, like you’re glad he’s home.
  • Text him or leave a voice message during the day saying how you miss him.
  • Send him a love note in the mail to his place of employment.  Your perfume on the envelope is good!
  • Make a coupon for something he really likes, a massage, back itching, favorite dinner, or intimate activities. You know what he likes!  Be creative, but no expiration date…

None of these things take more than 5 minutes, yet they will speak volumes about your love and affection.  The fact that you took time and effort to think of your spouse during your busy day will confirm to him that he is important to you and everyone craves that feeling of being cherished.

So put your spouse on your task list and make him an “A” priority!

Imagine

Often song writers are able to capture the essence of some of life’s most perplexing issues.  In a few simple lyrics they can capture the complexity of life, touch our hearts, and move our souls.  I’ll date myself here, but one such songwriter that accomplished this mystical feat was none other than John Lennon of the Beatles.  He wrote a dreamy, idyllic tale of how peaceful life could be in his song Imagine, written in 1971.  He envisioned a utopian world at peace with no hunger or war, nothing to kill or die for; a fanciful happy world where mankind lives with neither territorial boundaries nor possessions.  He admits that he’s a dreamer and invites us to dream with him.  (A footnote here for my purest brethren – He also wanted us to imagine no heaven or hell, something with which I disagree.)

In a world where the only breaking news is bad news and where critical comments dominate our dialogue, we are often caught up in the negative onslaught that bombards our lives every day.  A local town in the Midwest has actually passed a law to fine people for swearing in public because public swearing reached epidemic levels.

Can you imagine a world less negative?  Can you imagine a marriage less negative?

I believe that we need to have a vision for a better marriage.  If you are like most couples, your relationship with your spouse is, to one degree or another, less than perfect.  To be honest, some of you would probably admit that your marriage has hit a few bumps along the way.  And some may further admit that the bumps are so severe that you feel like you’re driving in the ditch.  Still others just feel like giving up.

Here’s where I need all of you to take a step of faith.  Take a step and imagine.  Open your mind and your heart to see a better marriage, to see a closer more fulfilling relationship.  Open up to seeing yourselves as best friends and lovers.  Envision a time when your communication with each other is effortless.  He really does understand you and takes time to hear you and even empathizes with your feelings.  You both have found a way to quickly forgive when wrongs are done and hurtful words are spoken.  There is a daily joy of being together because you know just how to build each other up and encourage each other.  Words of praise are easily spoken; hurts and fears are shared with love and respect.  You have a deep desire to enjoy a passionate intimate relationship and you long to share the joy of holding each other close.  Imagine and have a vision for a marriage that improves and grows better every day.

Now for the reality check.  Don’t get lost in the daydream.  Imagine where your marriage can be and take responsibility each day to do what you can do to make that dream a reality.  Yes!  Do what you can do and day by day you can transform your marriage into what you imagined it to be.