Monday, February 21, 2011

Intentionally Growing Part Two: Marriage

16 years ago My Sweetie and I started dating.  Our 15 year anniversary is coming up in June.

What a milestone!!  Our relationship has not been without bumps and hurdles and at times mountains to climb.  But I wouldn't chose anyone else to partner with on this journey.

 Even though I think we have a good marriage, I still want it to grow into something more.  I don't ever want us to be strangers to one another because we didn't intentionally take the time to grow our relationship.  My children, ministry work and care of the home usually take up most of my time.  I have to work every day to give my husband the best of my time because if I don't things just don't work.  There are plenty of days when I don't and I can feel the distance that builds between us when I'm not intentionally making him a priority.

While reading the blog of Jill Savage, CEO and Founder of a wonderful organization called, Hearts at Home, I was once again reminded of the importance of being in a constant state of  intentionally growing in your marriage.  Every Monday she partners with her husband to write about marriage.  The title of the blog was, "What is it like to be married to me?"  (EEK!!!  Do I really want to know??)  There is a book by the same title written by Linda Dillow which they based this blog post on. Jill and her husband Mark write,

Jill: Becoming better requires us to more often look at ourselves than pointing the finger at our spouse.  That’s usually not our default way of handling frustration.  Most of us are quick to blame and pray under our breath, “God, change him…quick!” or “God, change her….now!”

Mark: But maturity responds to frustration with, “God, please change me.”  It’s a much harder prayer to pray…but a much more effective one.  Why?  Because the only person you I can change in my marriage is me.
 Did you see that last part??

"Maturity responds to frustration with 'God, please change me.'

No matter how hard we try.  No matter how long and passionate our prayers are.  The ONLY person we can change in a marriage is us.

Asking God to change us rather than our spouses is a very intentional prayer and a good boost in the right direction of intentionally growing a marriage.

For the first 5 years of our marriage I wasted a lot of time of hoping that My Sweetie was different or treated me differently, or would just accept me for who I was.  And when those changes in him didn't happen I gave up on our marriage.  I called it quits without even really trying to work things out but rather telling him our marriage was over.  

In my rock bottom moment of that situation, I realized that I was the one who needed to make a change.  I am such a different person now that I barely recognize the wife I was early on in our marriage.  Thank God for grace, right?!?!

There have still been moments of peeks and valley's in our marriage since then and I am still having to pray for God to change me, but we've come a long way. 

It is a daily, intentional, choice for me to put aside anything that didn't get finished at the end of the day and spend time with My Sweetie.  Kids are to be in bed or in their rooms before 8:30.  The rest of the evening is set aside for just the two of us.

The other night My Sweetie called and asked if I would meet him around 5 p.m. to meet up with one of his clients.

It was a Thursday night.  I needed to do spelling with the kids.  Little Dude needed a bath.  They needed dinner.  I had spent the morning scrubbing floors and the afternoon grocery shopping.  I was tired and not looking the role of "corporate wife" at all.  This just wasn't work.

No was really the easy answer.

I could tell that he really wanted me to join him. I knew that this would really make him happy and I knew I was really just making excuses for not wanting to make an intentional effort to make My Sweetie happy.

So I made it work.  Homework was completed, dinner was healthy, yet simple and our 14-year old would be fine for a few hours watching a movie with his brothers while we were gone.

I met My Sweetie in one of the nearby downtown areas that sits along the Mississippi River and we walked together to meet his client.  We visited for a while then left, strolling hand in hand on a beautiful, warm February evening with the sounds of the city surrounding us.  We checked in at home and decided to stay out a little longer and had a fantastic dinner together before heading home just in time to put our three-little monkey's to bed.

We both curled up on the couch after they were all tucked in talking of what a great night it was.  It was somewhat a spontaneous date night, yet it did require me to get a little uncomfortable about leaving on a school night.  But the extra effort it took so that we could spend some time together was well worth it. 

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