A New Year

Photo by Shondra Hull

Photo by Shondra Hull

Can it be? 2016 is almost over! It’s amazing to me how fast each year goes by. And many of us engage in the practice of making a list of what we want to get done in the next year. The “Resolutions” list.

Admit it! You’ve done it. Some of you even write them down. You cross off a few. And by February you’ve lost the list.

Some of you have a mental list. That’s easier to dispose of since you don’t even have to lose it. You can just quietly forget about it.

OK, I’m be being a little hard on you. Actually, I’m being hard on me. I have done this over and over. My resolving is a habit. But, to be fair, I have done some of what I resolved. But some things keep showing up, year after year. Ah, some day, I will have the old things done and will start the new year with a fresh list.

Optimism is what we need. An optimistic view. We can do this. Yes, we can!

So, this year, let me help you with a basic ready-made

Resolutions List for My Marriage

I Resolve to Love my spouse, not just in word but in action.

  1. I will look for ways to demonstrate my love to my spouse.
  2. I will actively seek what tangible acts I can do to show my love.
  3. I will make a point of saying “I love You” every day.

I hereby RESOLVE to love my spouse.

I Resolve to Forgive my spouse.

  1. Let this be the year I truly let go of anything I am harboring against my spouse.
  2. I will forgive my spouse.
  3. I will just “Let it go.”
  4. I will pray for God to give me the grace to forgive as I have been forgiven.

I hereby RESOLVE to forgive my spouse.

I Resolve to take time with my spouse.

  1. I will spend quality time with my spouse each week.
  2. I will get a babysitter if needed to get alone time with my spouse.
  3. I will not allow my time with my spouse to be second, third, or fourth on my priority list.
  4. My time with my spouse will be number one.
  5. I will plan a weekend away once every three months.
  6. I will plan a week away once this year.

I hereby RESOLVE to spend time with my spouse.

I Resolve to work on my marriage.

  1. I will make my marriage a priority.
  2. I will work on better communication.
  3. I will read a book or two on marriage.
  4. I will attend a marriage seminar.
  5. I will make every effort to make my marriage better this year than last.

I hereby RESOLVE to work on my marriage.

Photo by Roger Kirby

Photo by Roger Kirby

That’s a great start!

Prayerfully consider the above list and modify if you must, but do RESOLVE to get closer to the wonderful spouse the Lord has given you.

Fun Times Together

Life is so busy sometimes we forget to just take time to have fun together. It’s Saturday morning and you both have the day off, but you have a mental list of all the chores around the house that need to be done. If there’s nothing too urgent though, no leaking pipes or broken refrigerator needing immediate attention, then take the day off and have some fun. Here are a few ideas for a fun day off together.

Photo by Izabela Keppler

Photo by Izabela Keppler

You can take the day and browse at a few garage sales if you’re the kind of couple who likes hunting for deals. Darleen and I regularly stop this time of year at garage sales. She looks for material to make the next quilt and I look for a DVD’s I don’t already have. And we are always checking out things for the grandkids and every now and then will run across a prize. Just this past weekend we saw a wood chipper for sale and called our son Jim. It was a 5 horse power model that ran great and it was only $45. Jim said “Get it!” We left a deposit and Jim stopped by later and picked it up. I sure he’s been chipping all weekend. We’ve found toys, clothes, cast iron skillets, and furniture, you name it. Garage sales can be a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Photo by Cheryl Scott

Photo by Cheryl Scott

If you have kids, you can take a hike. For sure, just take a hike. Find a local park, river, mountain, or waterfront and go for a hike together. Pick up a few things for a quick lunch on the trail. Just pack up and go. Be adventurous and have some fun.

How about a drive to local waterfall? That would be fun. If it’s a warm day, you can kick off your shoes and take a walk in the stream. If there’s a flat spot in the water, you can skip some rocks. Just make a fun day of it. Stop for some ice cream on the way home.

Or you can take along a book you’ve been meaning to read and take turns watching the kids. When it’s not your turn to keep an eye on the kids, you can sit back and relax and read a few chapters while enjoying an afternoon in a park you haven’t been to before.

If you have the kids taken care of for the day, you can go out to lunch together and talk about what you appreciate most about each other.

Every now and then it is OK to have a Fun Day. No chores, no lists, no pressure, and no expectations. Just a day to kick back and enjoy each other.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Why is Date Night Important?

Most books that cover marriage and relationships come around to the importance of regular date nights.  Some go further and suggest quarterly weekends away and a week-long vacation once a year.  You may be asking date night weekly, quarterly weekends, vacations alone?  Who has the time for all that?  And what about the kids?  That’s just unrealistic.  We don’t have time!  We’re just too busy.  We don’t have any free time during the week.  Our schedule is full.

If you recognize any of the above reasons and are feeling that you really are just too busy, then I think it is best to go down a path of evaluation together.

Photo by yalcin Eren

Photo by yalcin Eren

With what are you too busy?  Understand that your relationship is your most important life commitment.  You can change jobs, where you live, and what house you live in, but you have committed to make this journey through life with your spouse and you want to enjoy that journey together.  We need to invest the time we have in what is most important to us.  Nothing is more important than a strong well-nourished marriage.

Times away on a weekly basis to connect help refresh and restore your relationship.  It is a time for recharging, reconnecting, laughing, and reminiscing about favorite times together.

For some reason when you think back to when you were dating, you did have time to be together.  You looked forward to it.  Now you’re married and those times together are needed even more to keep your relationship strong, vibrant, growing, and to keep you connected and in touch with each other.

If you are not having regular dates nights weekly, then I want you to stop and honestly ask yourself why.  Why is it that other things are always taking priority?

You may find that you need to cancel something else.  Yes, that’s right.  You may need to cancel some other scheduled meeting and in place of it put “our time.”

red-sunset-1397904

Photo by James White

Don’t let the excuse of the children keep you from date nights. Enlist some relatives, a trustworthy teen, or set up a couple to trade child care duties.  They need a date night just as much as you do and you can do each other a great favor that way.

If you reschedule so you have a consistent date night, you’ll find over time that it is well worth it.  Relationships need to be nourished in order to thrive.  Even your children will benefit from you committing to taking time away together.  It may be tough to coordinate if you have kids, but it will be a blessing to them if you do.

Ideas For a Fun Time, Out or In

Go for a walk at the local mall and get an ice cream cone together.  The exercise will be great if you take two to three laps around the mall, alternating between upstairs and downstairs.  Walk at a fast pace, just enough to get the ‘ol heart beating.  Take note of the specialty shops and after your laps, stop by a few and just window shop.  No need to go crazy and spend next month’s budget, but it’s ok to dream a little.  Remember to chat along the way.  Tell her why you love her so much.

 Look up historical sites in your town and go visit at least three.  Hey, this can really be fun.  Most cities have a chamber of commerce or a visitor’s bureau or you can search online for the local sites and look up the history.  When Darleen and I visited Oysterville on the Washington coast, we found a little church built in the early 1800’s.  On the same street were several original homes.  Historical markers out front told a brief history.  As Spock would say, “Fascinating!”  Tell each other your favorite time in history and who you would like to meet if you could go back in time.

 Look up the largest and smallest park within a fifteen mile radius and visit each.  Take along  some muffins, juice and fruit.  Enjoy the first park with a walk and find a nice place for your mid-morning snack.  Then, off to park number two.  Take a walk around the park, stopping to take a few pictures here and there.  Note the flowers, trees, and any birds you spot.  After your walk, bring out the special lunch you packed earlier.  Find a nice picnic table in the shade, or sun if you prefer, and relax.  Share your most favorite place to spend time together.

 Shop for all the necessary ingredients for an unusual dinner and make it together.  This could be really fun.  Make a homemade pizza with your favorite toppings. Or a special hot and spicy south of the boarder dish. Maybe try something stir fried.  Or, if you like adventure, get a cook book with various ethnic dishes, and each of you pick out three that you would really like.  Then number all your choices and put the numbers in a box.  Pick one out, get to the store, and shop for the stuff. Come home, open a bottle of your favorite wine, and get cooking.  After a fine dinner, you can get other things cooking.

 Take the time to laugh, play, and make special memories together.

A Time For Everything

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYou will find quite a list concerning time in Ecclesiastes 3. Take a few minutes to read it.

Consider these:

A time to Heal
A time to Build up
A time to Laugh
A time to Dance
A time to Plant
A time to Embrace
A time to Keep
A time to Mend
A time to be Silent
A time to Speak
A time to Love

 

How have you been using your time in relationship to your marriage? For many of us our relationship with our spouse gets the left overs.

We get it that we have to go to work and pay the bills and do the laundry and take care of the kids and fix the broken things around the house and mow the lawn and… and… and… The list has no end. There is always another item to add to the over-filled list.

Somehow, we accomplish so much but we are exhausted. Our spouse is exhausted. And when we find a few minutes here and there to give, we are emotionally empty and have little left for the most important person in our life. Leftovers!

How does this happen?

In Ephesians 3:15-16 we are admonished to

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

Sometimes we let others set our priorities for how we spend our time. Begin to make the most of your time by setting your own priorities and limits. If you are pulled in many directions by your boss, or friends, ex, children, and extended family, then take time to consider your priorities and honestly assess how much quality time you are spending together with your spouse. Maybe you could set some limits so that your spouse gets more than just the leftovers. Be intentional with your use of time.

So, what about it? Want a better relationship? Look at the next three or four weeks and plan what days and times you will set aside for each other. Then, and this can be a little tough, especially for the hyper busy among us, set aside a weekend away together. No kids, no phones, no laptops, no leftovers. A full meal deal, so to speak!

Yes, a real getaway!  And here’s your   To Do List:

♥  a time to laugh

Photo by John Nyberg♥  a time to build up

♥  a time to dance

♥  a time to embrace

♥  a time to love

I Choose Us !!

Do you want to see a great “Date Night” movie?  (OK – OK!  A chick flick.  Hey guys – remember that most of the time she watches those shoot-‘em up movies with you and so a chick flick is perfectly ok and this one even has time travel for us guys!)  Anyways, let me recommend The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni.  It’s a great movie with an even better message.

After a series of events the husband, played by Nicolas Cage, comes to realize he needs to pursue his dream and passion to where he feels led in life.  But it requires major life changes for the family, including moving, changing schools for the kids, and being away from grandparents.  His wife passionately argues that they just can’t do that; they would be giving up too much.  They would have to leave their house, friends, and family.  The next day after some time of reflection and soul searching, she says to her husband, “Being with you is more important for me than to hold on to anything.  Where you go, I’ll go.”  And then she says, “I choose us!”

Think about that!  “I choose us!”  I make a conscious choice to put my personal needs and wants aside for what is a better choice for “Us.”  We each come to our relationships with our own personal dreams and aspirations, our own plans and goals.  They’re my goals, my plans, my career, and my education.  And somehow we must meld those two sets of desires into one.  It can no longer be all about me. It needs to become all about “Us”.

Here are a few suggestions to help you to work at making “Us” a focus:

  • Ask your spouse “Is there something special I can do for you this week?”  And don’t just ask, remember to Do It!
  • When needed, say “I’m sorry.  Would you forgive me?”
  • Commit to two times per week for special one on one alone time together.  Read a book together, share a massage or back rub – Be creative  –  I’m sure you can come up with something!
  • Make plans for two special trips away together each year. (Camping in the backyard doesn’t count)
  • Work at overcoming “me” and “my” and instead work on “Us”!
  • Talk about your favorite memories together.
  • Talk about your dreams and future together.

In the movie, the husband was faced with a choice of “me” or “us” and he chose “me”.  He became successful and quite wealthy.  His choice led him to a lonely and isolated life.   Sure he had wealth, but also an empty unfulfilled life.  Too late, he came to see that he had made the wrong choice.

Now for today’s assignment:  Get the movie and watch it together and when the time is right, nuzzle up to your spouse and give them a nibble on that special provocative spot and whisper in his or her ear, “From now on, I choose Us!”  Can you see that special sparkle in her eyes?  That’s the “Us” sparkle!!

 

Personal Growth

Here’s a fun date night suggestion –

Go to your local book store and go to the self-help section or the relationship section.  What a selection you’ll find there.  Here a sample of what may be available:

 

And the following obviously missed the memo about sticking to the number seven if you want to have a successful relationship book:

Then there’s the overachiever who went way beyond:

I really like the books that tell me right up front that something’s a secret.  Going to have to read that one for sure.  Or the one about Ten Stupid Things Couples Do  —  Only ten?  I think us guys can get a lot of benefit out of 1001 ways to be Romantic, mainly because we can usually only come up with three, and the third one is just a slight variation on number two!

For your date night, you and your spouse can browse the various titles.  Read the back cover or the inside flap of the books, which usually gives a quick overview of the book.  Find three that appeal to you and have your spouse find three. Swap your selections and narrow them down to the top two for each.  Then, put all four on the table and together pick the one you feel would benefit you both the most.

Next:  Over the next few weeks go through the book together.  You can read several chapters by yourselves and take notes and then discuss what you have read, or you can read it together and discuss it as you go.  I have found that most books have several real gems, real key ideas that particularly apply to you individually or to you as a couple.  Make it your objective to find something that is spot on, something that really resonates with you, that makes you say, “There’s some real truth there.  I need to work on that”, or “We need to work on that”.

The objective should be to uncover things that would help you grow as a person or help you grow closer together. Focus on being positive and avoid the “I told you so” trap.  We all need to grow and we can grow best when we are supported by a loving spouse.