Many years ago Brad was talking with a woman who said that when she grew up she didn’t have anything. As a result, she decided not to deny her boys whatever they wanted. She was quite at peace with having over $80,000 on credit cards so that her boys could be indulged! We shudder to think about how those boys turned out and the survivability of her marriage.
Money. It’s the number one issue that couples argue about. In 2009 Jeffrey Dew of Utah State University released his study of 2,800 couples which found that couples who disagreed about finance once a week were 30% more likely to get divorced than those who disagreed less frequently. So how can we reduce the tension and build agreement when it comes to money matters?
What do these words have in common: portfolio, friends, title, power, possessions, celebrities, armies, weapons, the judicial system, and politics? They are all places where people put their trust. In nearly 30 years of ministry we have seen individuals and couples place their faith and confidence in varying degrees in these areas.
As a couple, when things get hard in your marriage or life, where do you turn for advice? Where do you get your strength and confidence? Where do you place your trust?
Last week we were able to get away for a few days on a vacation. It wasn’t long, but it was refreshing individually and maritally. Throughout our marriage we have worked hard to inject time alone into the rhythm of our relationship.
Are you two feeling disconnected? Are life’s responsibilities crowding out the time to be together that you desire? Then it’s time to re-evaluate how you’re living life and place a high priority on how you build your marriage.
In the Bible, the Gospel of Mark describes a season of intensive ministry for the disciples. The needs and demands of people were huge “because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat….” (Mark 6:31a)
That’s not unlike how life can be for us today, is it?
In the history of the couples with whom we’ve worked, and in our own marriage, the health and vitality of the marital relationship rises and falls on how central this one perspective is in a couple’s marriage. It comes from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. In fact, it’s really the overarching theme of the entire book on wisdom. Here’s the verse that we believe carries the key to what matters most in marriage:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge….” (Proverbs 1:7a)
Stick with us for a moment. “Fear” in this context doesn’t mean cowering and afraid. In the original language (Hebrew) it can also mean a reverential awe and respect.
Let’s take that verse and contextualize it for marriage: “When the two of you live with a reverent awe of God and align your relationship under His complete leadership, you will have insight into your relationship, wisdom in your priorities, and unity in your values.” Quite simply, staying centered means keeping your relationship with Christ actively central in your marriage.
Have you ever agonized over whether or not to change jobs? How did you process it as a couple?
I (Heidi) work part-time for a small company. Recently I agonized over whether or not to change jobs. An opportunity presented itself and it met many of my qualifications (schedule, pay, commute, etc.). One minute I would be 95% certain to stay in my current job and hours later I would be 95% sure the best thing was to change jobs.
To say this was difficult is an understatement. Brad and I spent hours praying about both opportunities and sought godly counsel from people we trusted. But the godly counsel we sought was conflicting – some people said to stay; others said go. We made pro and con lists. We did everything we knew to do when faced with a tough decision.
What does it take to make each day count in your marriage? It’s easy in the busyness of life to let things slide by, to relegate what matters most to the shadows of our lives and let the tyranny of the urgent rule. After our faith in Jesus Christ, what matters most is the health of our marriage.
Funerals have a way of reminding us that the number of our days is limited. They re-clarify what really matters in life. Last weekend was the service for Brad’s aunt. She was a godly woman who served Jesus for over 35 years in Korea teaching music at Seoul Theological University. She never married, but she had hundreds of students who called her “mom” and mourned deeply over her passing.
As we reflected on a life well-lived, we thought of four things that should be part of every couple’s day—four things to make each day count in your marriage. They are:
Do you have achievable dreams for your life that are unfulfilled? Do you know your spouse’s dreams that are yet to be realized? If you want your marriage to grow in love, connection and partnership, this post is vital for you and your spouse to read!
Dr. John Gottman, famed marriage specialist and author, says that acknowledging and respecting your spouse’s dreams is a key to enriching your marriage. Taking the simple points outlined below and using them as a framework for you and your spouse can provide the framework needed to intentionally build your marriage.
Here are four steps to get you started:
1) Describe the dream
Choose time when you can talk—a date night, a drive in the car, a walk in the neighborhood—and initiate the conversation. Ask your spouse questions like:
- When you were younger, what were your dreams that you wanted to accomplish?
- What’s on your bucket list?
- If you could do something and know it had a good probability of working out, what would it be?
We are in the process of a shared dream to strengthen marriages around the world through the ministry God has given us through Build Your Marriage. In addition, we have dreams to visit every presidential museum (we’ve been to nine so far!), take an around the world trip, own a Harley and learn to scuba dive (those last two are Brad’s!).
Maybe your spouse wants to: finish their degree, write a book, start a business, run a marathon, record music, parachute, start a non-profit. Find out what it is and then:
2) Affirm the dream
Your spouse needs to hear you value what matters to them. Repeat back what you heard them say and why it is important to them. “So your dream is to someday __________ and this matters to you because _____________.”
As you are able to articulate their dream, you communicate that you are listening and actually hearing the intimate desires of their heart. Let them know that you love them and that what is important to them is important to you.
3) Support the dream
It’s easy to be negative and shut a dream down. Breathe the prayer of Psalm 141:3 quietly “ Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” and keep negativity to yourself.
While not all dreams are achievable (i.e. “I’ve always wanted to walk on the moon!”), most are pursuable. Your first sign of support is to speak positively and hopefully about your spouse’s dream. Let them know that you want them to live life to the fullest of their ability and potential.
4) Partner in the dream
While this is your spouse’s dream, they need to know that they have your support to see it realized. Let them know that you are willing to sacrifice to see their dream realized.
Being realistic, break down the next steps into manageable increments that the two of you can take together. What can you accomplish in the next 30-60 days? Write it down. “By ___________ we will ___________ toward the goal (save X dollars, research, look into, begin, etc).
Experience the fullness of your marriage partnership as you dream—and pursue dreams—as you build your marriage!