That’s a blog post title, I didn’t anticipate using as 2020 began.
In our area, and at the time of this blog post, we’re roughly 2 weeks into a whole lot of changes to what we might consider the normal rhythms of life. I don’t need to list those, because you’re living them already. But what I do want to draw your attention to, is that in the midst of all of these changes, if you’re married, you must stay attentive to your marriage.
I know…just one more thing to be ‘attentive to,’ when you’re already adjusting to things such as educating kids at home, trying to work from home, managing less income, working more hours, concerns about vulnerable loved ones, grocery shopping, college kids returning home to live with you, funny meme’s, and a host of others.
But let’s not miss the reality that external circumstances around us exert pressure upon our marriages. And if you’re like most, it is easy to slip into neglect of your marriage, when it seems like there are 1,000 other things to be attentive to. It is easy to get focused on external circumstances that are beyond your control, and at the same time, disregard those closest to us.
So, I want to give you some marital encouragement in the midst of this unique season we are in. May they spur you and I on to remain attentive to our marriages.
Pray for your spouse on a consistent basis.
Pray out loud and lift their name to the Lord. Intercede on their behalf. Pray that the fruit of the Spirit would abound in their life, and the Lord would sanctify them in this season. Pray for their endurance, wisdom, strength and joy. Pray as the Spirit leads you and as the Scriptures speak.
When you get up in the morning, or before you go off to work, or when you go to bed, or __________. The point is that on a consistent (I’d argue, daily) basis, you are holding one another’s hands and you’re praying out loud together. Expressing your devotion to and worship of the Lord, expressing your desires and requests, expressing your temptations, etc.
Lavish each other with grace.
Heather has the phrase, walk with grace filled feet. I love it and the picture it gives my heart. Keep this in mind, neither of you have lived or walked through a pandemic before. Neither of you are experts or seasoned vets. So be gracious with one another, for the Lord has been and is gracious toward us. Be patient with one another, for the Lord has been and is patient with us.
Reject numbing ruts and pursue new patterns.
There is a ‘pruning’ element to this season right now. Granted, it feels a little aggressive on the pruning side. Lots of things being cut away in a short amount of time. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. For many, the typical schedule has been disrupted. For some, there is more margin than there was before. In the margin, reject falling into ruts that simply numb the brain, let alone your relationship. What new pattern(s) can you develop in the space that leads to fun, memory making, and relationship strengthening?
Don’t forget to kiss each other.
Have you come to the end of a day, and thought to yourself, ‘Have we kissed today?’ We have. Ouch. And I love to kiss my wife, and I’m pretty sure after nearly 24 years of marriage, she likes it too. But it is easy to get task-driven and focused on all.the.things, and miss those closest to us. So when you pass each other, or when you’re in the middle of the chaos of younger kids, or the meal prep, or the ________, don’t forget to plant one on each other.
Pay attention to what needs remodeled.
When you apply enough stress to something, cracks appear. Drywall, concrete, wood, metal. And also relationships. Don’t ignore the cracks that show up under this current pressure. Pay attention to them. It is a gift to notice the crack, so attention can be given to its repair and restoration. And where you need outside counsel for restoration help, seek counsel that is gospel-centered and saturated in God’s truth.
Be a student of your spouse.
What are you learning about your spouse right now? School is in session. Ask great questions of one another, and be quick to listen and slow to speak. Here are some questions to spur on conversations. The first seven are adapted from ‘The Shepherd Leader at Home.’ By the way, don’t ask all these at once:
- What are you worried about today?
- What is your greatest concern for yourself, for me, or for your kid(s)?
- What sin do you struggle with the most?
- What are unmet aspirations you harbor?
- How are you doing?
- How can I pray for you?
- How are we doing?
- What is the Lord teaching you right now?
- How best can I love and serve you?
- What is something the Lord is pruning away in your heart right now?
- What fun activity are you looking forward to when this is over?
- What is the first restaurant you want to go to when this is over? (decide now rather than in the car as you aimlessly drive)
Get outside with each other.
Seriously. Fresh air, sunshine, the breeze…it is good for the soul. Go on a walk around your neighborhood or property. Some of your best conversations may come as you walk and pursue activity together.
Plan now for a summer or fall getaway.
We’re going to need one. And so are you. Maybe it is a night away, or a weekend away, or a week away? Maybe all 3? I know at this time, we’re all uncertain about what the coming months hold and when a sense of ‘normalcy’ will return. But as you think about the summer and fall months and your calendars, start thinking and planning now for a time of retreat.