The Ten Most Important Lessons after 37 Years of Marriage

25 09 2012

Number ten: Evaluation


Most persons dread evaluation time at their work place.  The whole concept has a negative feel to it.  However, it doesn’t have to be negative when it becomes life-giving.  What do I mean?  Once a year, Mary and I take off for our evaluation weekend.  It is normally at the end of the year or in the very beginning of a new year.   We locate an inexpensive place to stay and we gather together our goals and vision for the present year, our marriage mission statement, our budget, check books, savings account and our schedule books.  Throughout the first afternoon and evening we review our past year, e.g., our jobs, our volunteer organizations, our finances, our mission statement, our goals, our children, our home projects and our schedules.  We simply talk about what was and how we are presently doing.  We review our personal lives and our lives as a couple, i.e., date nights, family gatherings, roles and responsibilities.  We then go out for a nice meal together and continue the discussion as is necessary.  The end the evening with giving thanks to God for all He has done in our lives.

The next day we begin our projections for the year ahead.  We review and re-write if necessary our mission statement.  Over the years our couple mission statement changes as our children are raised or as we reach financial goals.  We re-write our goals for the coming year.  We re-work our family budget.  (One year we had to reduce 7.5% of our income from our budget.  I was dreading this piece of the weekend, but with appropriate evaluation, prayer and communication we did it in one painless effort.)  Prayerfully we consider our schedules for work and ministry together, our trips and weekends away together.  Together we make necessary budgetary changes.  We reflect on questions like, “Do we need to save a bit more or adjust our giving?”  We take the time to pray over every area of our lives and together dream about our future.  When we leave this place, we leave on the same page, hand-in-hand and united for the year ahead.

The Ten Most Important Lessons after 37 Years of Marriage

17 09 2012

Number nine: Be Thankful


Does your spouse care for your wash?  Who maintains your car?  Which one of you mows the lawn?  Who cleans the bathrooms?  And whose job is it to balance the check book and pay the bills?  These are a few of the mundane, everyday, thankless and boring duties of life.  When is the last time you thanked your spouse for doing one of those jobs?  I mean really and truly went to them and said, “You know, I never run out of socks because some how they go from the wash basket back into my drawer clean and smelling fresh.  I do not know how you keep up with it all, but thank you.”  Or, “I am so thankful that you take the time to maintain our vehicle.  Today I saw someone along the road broken down and thought of you.  I need to thank you for that.”

When discontent surfaces in our lives toward our spouse we lose thankfulness.  We begin to focus on the things he or she is not doing and forget to give praise for the things they are doing.  Our expectations are unmet and we let them know it.  Why do we measure personal contentment in our life by what we expect from others?  For example, I have heard couples make statements like, “I’ll be content when he starts listening to me” or “I’ll be content when she begins to appreciate what I do for her.”  I Timothy 6:6 states, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  We will never be content when _________ happens, but we can choose to be content now even if what we expect is not happening.

If I am thankful for my wife and the many things she does to care for our marriage now, then I will not waste time in discontent and thanklessness, both of which are extremely unproductive.  Thankfulness in our marriage is actually contagious, especially when expressed for the many daily and routine tasks.  By the way, thank you for taking the time to read this.  :)

Ten Ten Most Important Lessons after 37 Years of Marriage

10 09 2012

Number eight: Every Marriage Needs a Mission

God gave Adam and Eve a mission, to tend the garden together.  He gave Nehemiah a mission to rebuild destroyed and burnt walls.  He gave Peter and Paul a similar mission to two different people groups.  Jesus had a mission to fulfill from His Father and then He asked us to join Him in the great co-mission.  Wouldn’t it seem reasonable that God has a mission for every married couple?  Unfortunately, many marriages today lack a cooperative mission.  The husband is doing his thing with a teen boys Sunday school class and his wife is meeting with the woman’s missionary support team.  However, if God has called you together, He has purpose and mission in that call.  Even to operate a small business, a couple must be in agreement and flow together in a cooperative mission.

That is where Ephesians 5 comes in when it tells us to submit to one another and then for wives to submit to husbands.  That word submission in the Greek is Hupo Tasso and it means to arrange under toward a mission.  We know the prefix “sub” in the word submission means under, i.e., under the mission.  So, the question one must ask when it comes to wives submitting is: what’s the mission?  What is she submitting to?  It is certainly not every selfish wish and whim of the leader.  Let me paint a picture for you as I see it.

Every train has and is in total need of a track.  Which one is more important, the track or the train?  Neither is more important, the one fails without the other.  The train’s mission is completed by the direction and support of the track.  Mary and I first wrote our own mission statement for our marriage and family more than 15 years ago.  We have seen many areas fulfilled and have rewritten our statement numerous times, but our mission statement for our call together still exists.  We totally and fully believe that every marriage needs a mission.  Do yourselves a favor and write your marriage mission statement together as soon as you can, pray over it and review it at least annually.  When you find this agreement in couple mission, you’ll also realize agreement in many other areas of marriage.

The Ten Most Important Lessons after 37 Years of Marriage

4 09 2012

Number 7: Playing Together

What is your favorite fun thing to do together as a couple?  When is the last time you participated in that area of fun?  Couples know how to do fun when dating, e.g., laughing together, growing in friendship and relating at that relaxed level of comfort over a milkshake or a latte.  What happens after we say “I do?”  All too often we allow fun to take a back seat to the more “serious” issues in the relationship.  Proverbs tells us that laughter is like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).  Laughter has within it medicinal purposes and it’s given to us as a gift of God.  If there was an instrument called the “fun-o-meter” and the number 10 was fun at its best, exactly where would your relationship find itself today?

Have you been able to slow down enough to simply take a walk and hold hands, perhaps taking a few moments to pray and converse?  Matthew 13, verse one, states, “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.”  When is the last time you left your house (your responsibilities) and sat by the lake with your lover?  Vacations are great moments for fun connections, but vacations come once or twice a year.  Take a moment to think of some of the things you once did and the things that you would like to do that are fun for you as a couple.  Purpose in your heart to schedule times of fun together and you will find a wonderful connection that lacks criticism and promotes healthy, life-building, laughter-filled relationship.

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