“I’m so glad we took these last 16 weeks to work intentionally on our marriage. We’ve had a great 30 years, but we want years 31, 32, 33 (and so one) to be even better than the first 30 years. We don’t want to be stagnant or coast. We want to keep moving.”
A few weeks ago, a friend of my shared about his marriage in a room filled with strangers. He and his wife just finished going through re|engage, a marriage ministry started at Watermark that helps provide a safe place for couples to reconnect and work on their marriage. When a couple finishes going through re|engage, they get to share all God has done in their marriage in something we call “Celebration Night.” That night he shared why they went through re|engage and why they’re glad they finished.
I love his quote. So often in life, we simply float along and coast our way to the finish line. We don’t work hard, and we don’t really care if next year is better or worse than this year. That’s not the marriage I want. I want the marriage that seeks to improve every year. Like my friend, I want next year to be better than this year, and 2019 to be even better than that.
The end of the year provides us with the opportunity to evaluate our year and our marriages. While we should certainly seek to grow all year long, the end of the year provides that good reminder to take stock on the last year.
What can you do to not coast in your marriage in 2018? How can you make 2018 a year of growth and not a year where you plateau or even decline?
A few questions to ask each other
- Is our marriage better, the same, or worse than it was a year ago? Why?
- What do we want our marriage to look like? Who are some couples we admire and can learn from? What do they do that makes their marriage stick out?
- What are some specific actions steps we can take to grow our marriage?
- Where are some specific areas where I’m just coasting in life and in marriage?
- What will we focus on in the next 12 months of our marriage?
I also want to leave you with a few suggestions of practical steps you can take to grow your marriage. If you’ve read my blog for a few months, you’re not going to hear anything new. In fact, I’m reminded often, there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Most of the time we don’t have a knowledge problem. We know what to do. We have an application problem—we don’t do what we know we should do. I hope this post reminds you of what you already know and spurs you on to do it!
1. Continue to date each other and do the things you did in the beginning of your relationship. Last week Kristen and I went to dinner and then a concert together. We laughed, ate some good food, and enjoyed five hours away from our kids, email, and routine. We know if we’re going to grow, we need to make our marriage a priority.
2. Pursue Jesus together. We don’t do a great job of this in our marriage as a couple. We each spend time with Jesus in His Word and in prayer, but we don’t often share what God is teaching us. I know if we’re going to grow and not just coast we need to grow in spiritual intimacy.
3. Pursue each other (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and physically). My friends Ryan and Selena Frederick are starting a 31-day challenge in January for married couples. They’re going to lead other couples through their 31-day pursuit books (Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit).
4. Commit to being a learner. Live with your spouse in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). I hope I never grow tired of learning more about my wife. Be a student of your spouse, ask them questions, pay attention to what they like and dislike. My friend Kyle says he never needs to ask his wife what she wants for Christmas because he pays attention to her all year long. Can you say the same?
5. Communicate and resolve conflict. I struggle with this one, just like most other couples. I keep trying to apply Proverbs 18:2 to my marriage: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” God, please help me to not be a fool. Help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Lift my wife up with my words and never use them to tear her down or win an argument (Ephesians 4:29).
I have some friends who make it a point to have a significant conversation every day when the husband gets home from work. They have several kids, but still make it a priority for some husband-wife conversation time. Their kids know to leave them alone and give them some couch communication time. Another couple has their kids wash the dishes after dinner while they go sit in another room to catch up with each other. Yes, this works better for those families with older kids, but you can probably start sooner than you realize.
6. Be on mission together as a couple. I won’t spend much time on this one since I just wrote about it a few weeks ago. What can you do as a couple to be on mission together in 2018?
Do not grow weary my friend. Don’t coast in 2018. I’m praying for you and I hope you’ll do the same for me.
What one thing can you apply that you read in this post? Is it to better communicate and resolve conflict in 2018? To go on date nights? To pursue each other?
This article originally appeared on ScottKedersha.com and was republished with permission.
Scott Kedersha is the director of premarital and newly married ministries at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. He’s a loyal husband and father to four boys.