I absolutely love to officiate a wedding. The reason is because they are usually upbeat and everyone is typically happy. Plus I always enjoy all the great and hilarious stories that come from them. In a way, it’s like being a doctor who helps deliver babies; it is a time of celebration (at least, it should be!)
As you may have figured out at this point, I am a man committed to living a life of faith. Without it, quite honestly, my marriage would have ended years ago. When I am meeting with a couple before they are married, I try to share with them what I have learned and what has made my marriage work. As an example, my wife and I made a commitment early on that we would make our mutual faith a cornerstone of our marriage. I realize that not every couple has made this type of commitment, but for us, we knew that if we were going to be able to get through all the highs and lows of marriage, our faith would give us the strength and wisdom we would need. Here are a few tips we have learned along the way that have strengthened our marriage and allowed our mutual faith to become a lifestyle that keeps on giving back.
Sounds rather obvious, but I’m sure you know many couples who struggle with finding time to eat together. I am not just talking about couples eating together but also eating together as a family. When we’re in a rush or tired, we often eat at separate times or even at the same time but in different parts of the room. I would strongly encourage you to find at least three times during the week that you can sit down and share a meal together, whether it’s as a couple or as an entire family. Make sure you do it without “devices” being used and if you are so inclined, pray before your meal. We take turns in my family getting everyone involved in praying. By doing this, it brings everyone closer and centers us on what really matters.
In addition to meals, we have found that praying together at different points throughout the week is a great way to connect on a deeper level. This may sound a little strange, but when a couple prays together, there is a deeper “spiritual” bond that is created. And it is this bond that will help give a marriage the type of foundation needed to weather life’s storms. When you pray together, especially when you pray for each other’s well-being, you are mutually edifying and affirming your relationship with one another. I typically find that the couples who pray together, stay together!
One of the wonderful date nights my wife and I have is going to a local bookstore, picking out a book to read on a topic we know little about, and at the end of an hour, coming back together and sharing what we learned. We sit by each other as we read and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. You may not be a traditional book reader but you love magazines or like to listen to audio books. What I am suggesting here is that you try taking in good information that you could share with one another. Maybe it’s sharing your favorite scripture verse for the week, maybe it’s sitting down and doing a short devotional together before you go to bed, or maybe it’s sharing a few points of what you learned from an online program. What I like about these ideas is that it can feed a couple with good information that will benefit them in a positive way. We have enough garbage in the news, so it is important to take in information that fills our emotional and mental cups. And to do it together is a bonus!!!
Join a Group Together
For us, having a few couples from our church community to “do life with,” so to speak, has been an invaluable support system for our marriage. They not only pray for us, but they don’t judge us and are there for us when we need it. If a church community is not in your wheelhouse right now, there are other opportunities to engage and build friendships with other couples. My in-laws are part of a motor home group that get together when they travel throughout the year. Several of the couples they have met have become their best friends. I could go on and on with other examples but I hope you get the point here. You cannot do marriage alone. You need other couples who will rally to your side, and give you the support and encouragement you need. It is important to not spend a lot of time with couples who are bad examples, whose advice would ultimately damage your marriage. This saying is true, “We are who we hang out with…”
If at all possible, limit your activities and rest together. It is so refreshing to be able to have nothing on the calendar but to enjoy a peaceful afternoon doing the complete opposite of what typically keeps us busy throughout the week. I am not always the best example of this, but every time my family is able to do it, we always say how much we enjoyed it and need to do it more. We typically try to make Sunday afternoons our day of rest. Clearing your schedule also allows you to be spontaneous and do things like inviting friends or neighbors over for a meal or to play games. Having this time of rest, gets you back in balance, helps you get prepared mentally for the upcoming work week and it is a great way to keep your marriage and family at the center. While we tell ourselves that our busyness during the week is for the benefit of the family, I can assure you there is no substitute for actually spending time resting together!
Please feel free to share this with others.