By Joanne Kraft
When you first began dating you had lots of fun together, didn’t you? Of course you did. Every woman remembers those sweet beginnings of a relationship—leisurely walks holding hands, long conversations on the phone until you’re too tired to make any sense at all and who can forget the laughter?
It didn’t matter that he loved to hunt elk and you hated to step on ants. When he explained why Caddy Shack and Faulty Towers were the best comedies ever—you just smiled and listened, and when he fell asleep during a Broadway performance of The Phantom of the Opera you giggled and thought it was cute. You were making memories and that’s all that mattered.
So what’s happened since then?
I don’t need to bore you with divorce statistics. If you know more than a few married couples, chances are you know a couple who are struggling. When I was young and newly in love, I believed marriage was a destination that culminated on my wedding day. The truth is marriage is a lot like a marathon—God knows I hate running but the analogy is so fitting: it takes dedication, devotion, and a “never say die” attitude to finish well.
For those couples hitting a rough patch, it’s sometimes tough to see things getting easier. How do you keep unified? How do you heal those tiny stress fractures that can result from hurt words, financial ups and downs, and plain old life struggles? I believe it takes intentional time together to keep a relationship strong.
A God honoring marriage is a testimony to His creation—two completely different people and personalities united as one committed to do life together.
When I say “different”, I’m speaking from experience here. Paul and I are opposites in so many ways. God knew He would get all the glory when He brought us together.
Paul makes a decision and sticks with it.
I can barely order at a restaurant without changing my mind a dozen times.
Paul’s idea of encouragement is telling someone how they could have done it better.
I have the ability to see gifts in others then inspire them until they catch the vision.
Paul probably has the first two nickels he earned. He’s cheap…ahem…a God fearing frugal man…I mean good steward of the Lord’s provision.
Every wallet and purse I’ve owned seems to have a big hole in it.
Paul can remember facts and figures. Loves history and could debate any U.S. politician on any foreign or domestic issue.
I have an awful memory—I got a D- in high school government and get tongue-tied debating the price of tomatoes at a farmers market.
Even though we’re opposite in lots of ways, we make sure to spend more time together than any couple I know. Of course, it helps that he works from home. So, if we can still love being together (most of the time) I thought I’d share a few ways you can encourage togetherness with your husband and maybe a few laughs, too.
•Turn On Some Oldies. Yes, our music is now called “oldies”. Most couples are around the same age, so listening to music from when you were in high school can make for some laughter—especially if he doesn’t understand why you absolutely LOVED Dexys Midnight Runner’s because he loved Metallica.
•Coffee for Two. Grab the caffeine drink of choice and take a drive. A long drive. (No, not off a short pier!) Adventure to somewhere you haven’t been before. Crank up the music and make sure to reach for his hand. We live in Tennessee and there’s just something about a long stretch of country road that brings out the teenagers in us. We could drive forever. Conversation comes easy when it’s just the two of you on a long drive.
•Invite Your Man. Stick a note in his lunch box or text him while he’s at work. “You’re invited to…” Share the date, time and event and give him something to look forward to after work. Send the kids to their rooms after he gets home and have a cup of iced tea waiting with a homemade goodie on the back deck. Or, send the kids to a friend’s house for the evening and make a romantic dinner sans conversation about the kids. Refrain from cutting up his meat.
Spending time together is not an option. Your marriage will suffer when you stop making time for one another—I can promise you that. If you can’t remember the last time you were alone then it’s been far too long. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, all-consuming event. One phone call to your spouse is all it takes to open the door wide to together-possibilities.
“Hi, I miss you. I’d love to spend a little time with you tonight.”
Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
Talk About It:
Please post a comment below and share about the struggles and victories in your own marriage. If you’re not married, do you have any married couples in your life that you admire? What is it about their relationship that is different? What do you think makes it work?
Joanne Kraft is a wife, mom of four and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. Her new book, The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids is coming out soon! She and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Gather At The Well is blessed to have her as a regular contributor. You can connect with Joanne on her website here: http://joannekraft.com/