7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 3a – Romance

Romance is really a recent development in marriages. It was seldom thought of or even expected until Byron and Shelley broke onto the scene with their silly romantic poetry and sonnets. Well, except for scriptures written around 900 years before the birth of Christ. Song of Solomon is a full book of scripture dedicated to romance and sexual love.

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.

When Did We Become Roommates?

I was talking to some friends about how things were going in their marriage the other day, and the recurring theme was boredom.  How is it our marriages go from hot and spicy to the same old day in and day out routine of just living together as strangers passing each other in the night?  How do so many of us get to this place so quickly in our marriages?  It may help to  go back to when it all started.

When you start to date, you are intentional about the relationship.  As a guy you are in pursuit or on the hunt for that special someone.  You enjoy the chase and the woman enjoys being chased.  Everyone is on their best behavior and out to impress.  Then they get married and the hunt is over.  Everyone returns to their normal self and the urge to impress is gone.  Guys think, “well I got the woman so no need to continue to pursue her.” Girls think, “well I got the man no need to continue to flirt and beguiling him.”  Life takes over with the every day routine of going to work, coming home, eating dinner, going to bed, only to wake up and start the whole cycle all over again.  Then you start adding kids and now there is no time for each other because it becomes all about the children.  BAM! Now you are roommates!  Yes it can be that simple.

I also believe the roommate scenario can cycle in and out of your marriage depending on how busy your life gets.  So… how do we stop the madness and keep it from happening to us?  Be intentional.  Your spouse has to be a priority for you.  You must continue to pursue, flirt, beguile, and put your best foot forward.  You need to continue to date.  Why?  Because after the kids are gone, you are left with your spouse, and you don’t want to be strangers.  You want to start your marriage with the attitude of it being “you and your spouse against the world” and end with “you and your spouse against the world.”  Of course this is a challenge.  The devil does not want unity in your marriage.  He wants division, strife, and conflict.  He wants to kill and destroy your marriage because your marriage is to be a reflection of Christ and the church.

Just as God pursues us and continues to woo us into a love relationship with Him, we are equipped to do the same with our spouse.  Just as He expressed His love for us at the cross, so we are equipped to sacrificially show our love for one another in our daily walk.  His desire is to show his love for us through our love for one another.    So… Guys continue to pursue your wife as God pursues his people. Let your marriage bring glory and honor to God as you and your spouse serve him together as a unified reflection of Christ and not roommates.

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.

Keeping the Love Alive

Eight thousand five hundred and forty-four.  That is how many hours you will find in three out of every four years. No matter how much you “manage” your time the best you can hope for is to better manage the choices you make in the time you have been given.  One investment of your time that will always have excellent returns is investing in date nights.  Early in a relationship this is not much of an issue but as the size of the family increases, discretionary funds decrease and job demands press for more of your time, you may find it a challenge to think of creative date ideas to try.  

This week I would like to share some ideas created by some of the women on our team.  Karen Vaughan and Nancy O’Sullivan put on their thinking caps and have provided you 20+ great date ideas that vary based on interests, budget and time.  Look over these ideas and check back periodically as we add more to the list.  A couple of things to think about before I give you the link:

  1. Date night is really about intimacy.  While you certainly want some fun and romance, date night offers you the opportunity to “catch up” with your spouse.  This often means spending some time just talking about the challenges of the day, week or month.  Ryan & Selena Frederick at www.fiercemarriage.com engage every week in one of two activities; highs and lows or heart checks.  Highs and lows consist of simply answering the questions; What was the best part of your week and what was the lowest part of your week?  The heart check consist of answering three questions:  1.  What book is in your hand?; 2.  What voice is in your ear (what are you listening to)? ; 3.  What’s moving on your heart?  These questions allow you and your spouse to engage in a deeper level of conversation than the passing conversation that makes up much of our communication.  Who’s taking the kids to dance and what time will dinner be ready may give important planning information, but it does not increase intimacy.  If you are having trouble thinking of things to talk about, you are not alone.  However, simply do a search for date night discussion topics and you will literally find hundreds of questions to use as starters for conversations.  
  2. Date night needs to be planned.  Your first date night conversation may include the following questions:
    1. How often should we have date night?
    2. Who should do the planning for date night?
    3. Should we always go alone or should we sometimes invite another couple?
    4. Can we work with another couple to coordinate child care?
    5. What are the limits on date nights?  Are movies OK?  Should we turn off the technology? etc.
  3. Date night needs to be protected.  Once you have set the boundaries make a schedule, put it in your calendar and then protect it at all costs.  Many things will try to pry you away from this time.  Many of those things will be “good” things like extended family, church events, etc.  In the famous words of Nancy Reagan, former First Lady, just say no.  Make sure date night remains one of those things that you put first in regards to how you spend your time.  

OK, enough build-up.  If you would like some great date night ideas click here.  Good luck and I hope you get some new ideas for dates.   BTW, if you would like to add some of your own ideas for others to try, please feel free to add them in the comments below or e-mail them to me at threestrandmin@gmail.com