My husband and I realized that we needed to focus more on our marriage after adopting our son.
One of the local benevolent organizations advertised for a marriage retreat, so we decided to go. The main focus of the first night was to have a date night with your spouse. However, one of the keynote couples delivered the first “message” of the weekend. They explained their shining moments and challenges as a couple. They instructed the crowd to create a vision and a mission for your marriage. In other words, where do you want your marriage to go, and how do you want to go about achieving it? They provided more information about what would be good to include in your marriage values (including goals and budgeting decisions).
We walked away a little confused but encouraged. It almost sounded like a business plan….but it made sense. Thousands of people prepare and plan to be successful at their jobs, but who has really set down to prepare how to be successful in your marriage? I’m not just talking about praying (even though this is important). I mean sitting down with your spouse for an extended period of time and discussing the current and future states of your marriage.
Sadly, we didn’t utilize the advice like we should have.
We got caught up in our schedules and the holidays. We finally sat down three months later to discuss it! Thankfully, we both remembered enough about the retreat that it helped start our discussion. We focused on what brought us together and what we currently liked about our marriage. I’m not sure what brought us to this passage, but we currently reference it as our “mission” for our marriage and family.
Romans 12: 9-13 “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Since this is what we believe our family should be about, it became much easier for us to create a vision for what we want from our marriage and our family.
Marriage Advice I’d give my pre-married self
My husband and I have been married almost 9 years. There are so many things I wished we had known before we got married. This retreat (and information) would have been perfect for us to develop early in our marriage. If I was to give myself marriage advice prior to being married, this is what I would say:
1. Do not misjudge quantity time as quality time.
Sitting around each other does not “count.” Direct engagement with each other about your day, feelings, and goals is vital to the emotional intimacy of your marriage.
2. Do something for your marriage every year.
Attend a marriage seminar/workshop, study a book together, take a vacation. Focusing on the growth and your stability of your marriage requires time and effort. It’s not going to happen naturally.
3. When your marriage gets tough, don’t run….dig in.
This has been one of the most difficult things for me to embrace, but I know it’s what God wants me to do. I’m not supposed to handle my marriage problems on my own. They are not going to small, and I need my God (who is bigger and stronger than I am) to guide me in being the wife I need to be.
4. Surround yourself with marriage mentors.
I recommend people older than you who can speak truth into your lives and guide you on a Godly path through your “marriage valleys.” I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to your best friend. What I’m saying is that wisdom typically comes from people who are older than you.
5. Pray together.
This is simple, but it’s not. And I’m so guilty of just assuming my husband should lead this…but your marriage and your relationship with God (as individuals and as a couple) is too important to put off. One or both spouses need to be actively focused on establishing prayer time together. You need to spend time together, before the throne of God, to help your spiritual connection grow with each other.
6. Disciple one another.
This realization came to me after I attended a women’s spiritual training workshop. I began thinking of all of the things I could do with the teens in our youth group. Then I realized that I, not once, thought of how I could lead/bless my husband. Not once. I realized that I cared more about the teens’ spiritual growth and formation than my husband’s. I realized that for my family to be successful (i.e. stay together, be Christ followers), I needed to focus on the spiritual development of my husband too. It’s not been easy doing this, but this realization has helped me understand that spiritual growth and formation is for everyone, not just our youngest generation.
I hope this advice has been helpful! I am thankful for the people in our life who speak truth, life, and encouragement into our marriage. We are excited to see how our vision and mission for our family grows (and maybe even evolves) in the years to come.
Be encouraged by these posts as well!