The Musical Date – A Date Night at Home

Date Night Doesn’t Have to be  Challenging

Need a quick date night idea for this weekend that has minimal cost and big impact.  Spend an evening creating a playlist of the songs of your marriage.  Of course, the longer you have been married the more music you have to choose from.  However, even if you have only been together for a few months this date will work for you.

Order your favorite Pizza to be delivered or grab one you can throw in the oven when you get home.  Minimize distractions (turn off the TV, set phone to Airplane Mode, lock the kids in the closet) and look through your music collection (playlists, cassette, 8 tracks, records).   Start with two songs from your days of dating and then review music in three year increments until you have a list of music that reflect different periods of your relationship.  You may have a few from your dating days, a few from your newlywed days, a few from the early years of raising children; you get the idea.  Next, start “whittling down” your list until you have 12 to 15 songs.  Once you have your songs selected download them and create a new playlist on your phone.

The act of reviewing this music will bring back memories and make for a fun evening.  Remember to keep the distractions to a minimum and spend some time thinking about where you were living and what you were doing when these songs came out.  Here are a few of ours:

Take Me Down – Alabama

Feels So Right – Alabama

Love In The First Degree – Alabama

Faithfully – Journey

Wonderful World – Sam Cook

Unforgettable – Nat King Cole

Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals.

Fields of Gold – Sting

Everything – Wasis Diop

Keeper of the Stars – Tracy Byrd

World on Fire – Sarah McLaughlan

Come Away With Me – Norah Jones

Moon Dance – Carmel

Duet – Penny and Sparrow

Use the comments to share yours.

The Thick of Thin Things

Thursday Patty and I were headed west, separately.  She was heading west to visit her dad, a monthly visit now that he has recently moved; and I was headed west to my Mom’s house to mow the desert (no rain for weeks).  Somehow we ended up west bound on Interstate 20 in the same location.  She pulled up behind me, flashed her lights, then pulled up beside me trying to get my attention.  She honked, flashed her lights, started singing Mama Mia, all to no avail.  I was talking  to one of my team members after she had experienced a challenging day in the classroom and apparently it negatively effected my situational awareness.

Is it just me or does that happen a lot with the ones we love.  Not necessarily on Interstate 20, but in the day-to-day practice of living and loving.   We get focused on almost anything else and fail to pay attention to the ones we love the most.  We get caught up in what Steven Covey called the “thick of thin things.”  We pay more attention to the lawn mower repair than the little princess wanting to share high tea with dad; the game instead of the bride of our youth; we waste time on the next episode of House Hunters instead of noticing that our spouse has had a really rough day.

Part of the challenge with us guys is that we get focused.  While women may be able to multi-task to some degree, we men are programed to focus on one thing at a time.  When that one thing takes a few days, we may fail to notice the needs of our spouse.  I read an article recently about how a husband had fought with his wife over his insensitivity towards her need for some attention.  She had become irritated that he was simply not paying any attention to her as he was spending the weekend completing a paint job on his car.  As the fight progressed she used the “A” word (always) as in “You always pay more attention to (fill in the blank) than you do to me.” She was not feeling cherished, loved or appreciated.  After some thought he realized that he simply got swept away in his activities and often went days without really expressing appreciation or engaging with her in any meaningful way.  His answer was simple, set two reminders.  The first reminder goes of every morning at 9 am and reminds him to think about how lucky he is to have such a great wife.  Periodically, he follows the thought up with a quick text telling her how lucky he is and why.  He knows that words of encouragement mean something to her and so, being the wise man he is, he uses this time to invest in their relationship.  The second reminder goes off at 8 p.m. and reminds him to kiss and hug his wife.  Sometimes it is  quick kiss, sometimes a chance to catch-up, sometimes a little more; but each time he is reminded that he needs to focus on the most important human relationship in his life, the one with his wife.

I know ladies, not overly romantic.  Richard Gere didn’t have reminders in Pretty Woman.  Maybe so, but  God made men and women different, and one of those differences is the ability to focus intently on one thing at a time.  While focus is extremely helpful when hunting for dinner on the great plains, it may work against us a little when we need to focus on relationships.  Help a brother out and just kiss us when the alarm goes off.

Have a great week all.

Trust

Trust is a delicate thing and is the foundation of all truly intimate relationships.  For many, it is hard to trust others due to past experiences or pains from past abuses.  We almost always approach the discussion on trust from the perspective of “Can I trust (fill in a name)?”  However, it is just as important that we approach the issue of trust from the perspective of “Can I be trusted?”

In a Christian marriage, trust is even more multi-faceted.  I have to learn to trust my spouse in a very intimate way and in every aspect of my life.  I trust my spouse with my finances, children, possessions, time, sexuality, emotions, and my heart.  It is no small thing and when trust is broken in a marriage, it negatively effects every aspect of our life.  The trust we have in our spouse is never static and is always growing stronger or eroding.  Here are some questions to think through:

  • Are you trustworthy?  –  The answer is that in Christ, we are.  As we access and depend upon the heart and mind of Christ we can be counted on to seek the other’s best interested; never engage in activities that hurt or harm our spouse; sacrificially act in ways that encourage, build up, and strengthen our spouse.
  • How can you build trustworthiness?  – How are your actions effecting your spouse’s ability to trust you?  Each of us learns to trust the other by determining whether or not we can depend on them.  Do your actions, thoughts and deeds remind your spouse:
    • I will choose to love you regardless of your actions
    • I will choose your best interests over mine regardless of the cost
    • I will choose to forgive regardless of your behavior

When high levels of trust are present in a relationship, amazing things happen.   Sins against each other are discussed and forgiven quickly and we are able give each other the benefit of the doubt.   Little problems remain little and don’t grow into larger problems.

So what are you doing to improve the level of trust in your relationship?  How are you allowing Jesus to express himself through you in a way that allows others to trust Him, rely on Him and depend on Him?  How are you being the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus thereby being a more trustworthy person in your relationships?

 

A Canoe Date

There is no easier way to go on an adventure as a couple than in a canoe.  A canoe is a floating microcosm of a close relationship. You got two people in the same boat, each equipped to move the vessel. Sometimes they glide through perfectly calm waters together.  Sometimes they are carried along by strong currents. Sometimes they are buffeted by waves. And sometimes they must make their way against the stream.

When they work together, heading towards the same destination, they can make their way through any conditions. When they try to work separately or head in different directions, things get unstable.

To illustrate the point– and to enjoy some time on the water together– plan a canoe trip for two.  We live in an area where their are many lakes.  If you have had some experiences canoeing on a lake, one of the best lakes to canoe is Lake Caddo near Jefferson.   If you have not had much experience on the water you may want to choose a place where you can easily get to shore.

How to Prepare

Ahead of time determine where you will go to rent or borrow a canoe. You will want to make sure you have safety equipment including a life vest, a small first aid kit, flashlights, a water proof container for your phone, and some food for the day. A well packed picnic lunch can be the key for a great day on the water.  Remember bug spray and sunscreen. If you are accident prone, you may also want to pack an extra change of clothes in a water tight bag.  Tie the bag to the canoe so you don’t lose it in the event the canoe tips over.  Let someone know where you will be going and when they can expect your return.

Before  your canoe date, spent some time in prayer together. Thank God for the privilege of sharing a boat with your significant other on the river of life.  Ask him to bless the time you spend together in the canoe; give you safe travels; help you work together as partners keeping your boat pointed in the right direction.

If you have not paddled before you may want to get some introductory lessons from a friend.  Be prepared to laugh as you learn to row towards a common goal and extend grace when you begin to row in a circle because someone won’t follow your instructions.  Laughing at each other is better than screaming at each other.

During the Trip

A canoe trip, especially in remote areas, is a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Look for wildlife, spend some time fishing, or simply explore tributaries in the area.  Give yourself plenty of time to make it back before dark. This is a great time to talk about your future, dream about your next vacation, or simply relax in each other’s presence.

Make sure you take some time for the picnic.  A well packed lunch with plenty of hydration can make all the difference in the world concerning whether you have a great day on the lake or spend the day hangry. Make sure you clean up after yourselves leaving nothing that can harm the wildlife.  A nap after a picnic is always a good idea.   You may need to use the bug repellent to create an area where you can eat and nap bug-free.

One the Way Back

On your way back spend a few minutes talking about the experience and what you will take away from it.  Use the following questions as needed to guide your discussion.

  1.  When was the last time we”paddle together” in dealing with a situation or circumstance in our relationship? What were the results?
  2. When was the last time we paddled separately? What were the results?
  3. If our relationship is a canoe, how can we keep it pointed in the direction God wants us to go?

This makes for a great all-day date and if you add a trip to Jefferson after Lake Caddo it makes an excellent weekender.  Jefferson has some great Bed and Breakfasts and there are plenty of places to eat, spend some time checking out their shops or listening to music in one of their venues.

Want some other great ideas?  Check out 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern.  This date idea was adapted from that book.

Time Spent Together

Last week we discussed date night.  This week I want to expand on the idea of spending time together each week focused on one another.  Here is the question:  What is one thing you can do to remind your spouse that they are still special to you, that you do not take them for granted, and that they are an important part of your life?  Millions of marriages each week fall closer and closer to a boring, disintegrating marriage where they have become just roommates going through life together. Taking time each week to reinforce your spouse’s importance to you is time well spent.

Ideas:

-Write a letter telling your spouse how much you love her or why you respect him.

-Buy a card that says it all or make your own that shares your heart’s desire.

-The classics never die, bring home some flowers.

-Purchase glow in the dark stars and put them on the ceiling.  Later, make love under the stars.

-Take your wife on a weekend adventure.  Bring your spouse into your world.  Give your spouse the gift of time.

  • Camp in a local park, campground, state park, etc.
  • Rent canoes, kayaks, or paddle-boards and explore the local lake.
  • Go on a hike or walk in a local park or sanctuary.
  • Walk the local arboretum or go to the zoo.
  • Get in the car, drive to a new place, stop somewhere along the way and have a picnic.

Remember:

Guys, remember…women often need the gift of attention, listening and sharing.

Women, remember…men need the gift of friendship, encouragement, presence and sexual intimacy.

Date nights and time spent together each week should reflect your willingness to serve your spouse in a way that is important to them.

Resources:

If you go on outings and have trouble thinking of something to talk about, find a list of conversation starters on the internet.  Make small cards with each topic, put all the topics in a bowl, and choose one to discuss over dinner or desert or while driving.  Here is one I found that has a gabizilion tons  (technical measurement) of questions.

Finally, if you are having trouble coming up with ideas on your own, simply ask each other what you would enjoy doing together.  In fact, this can be your first date night conversation.  Make a list of those things that would be special to you or your spouse and refer back to it as needed.  Remember, neither of you are  a mind reader so it is important to give your spouse the gift of insight into your heart.  Don’t expect they will just know what you want.  Open up and share.

The Goodness of Marriage

We often spend time talking about the challenges of marriage.  I do believe we should prepare for these challenges but sometimes we may spend so much time preparing for the bad that we forget to celebrate the overall goodness of marriage.  For instance, did you know:

-Financial – People who remain married have 75% more wealth than those who never marry or get divorced.

-Happiness – Research shows that married couples are generally happier, less depressed, and more joyful than their single counterparts. 61-62% of married couples report being “very happy” when questioned.   Further, of those who stated they were not happy in their marriage, 70% reported being happy 5 years later if they pushed through.

-Sexual Satisfaction – Many would say that marriage leads to a boring and stagnant sex life.  Nope, research shows that married couples have a significantly better and more enjoyable sex life than singles.

-Family – Children raised in a household with a mother and a father have outcomes that are 2 -3 times better than those raised by a single parent.

One of our leaders told me a few weeks back that they had to take a break from “working on their marriage.”  She said the work had simply drained the joy out of being married.  What great insight.

On June 23rd Three Strands Ministry will be sponsoring a 3 hour workshop followed by a date night.  I promise two things:

  1. You will have fun during the workshop and learn something new about your spouse.
  2. You will have some time to rest in the goodness of marriage and spend some time celebrating your marriage as a couple and as a community.  I hope you will join us.

For more information click here.