“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered. ”
— F. Scott Fitzerald
(Bruce) Our marriage is rocking and rolling right now. But it hasn't always been that way. During our 25 years together, we have seen some incredible highs, but we've also experienced some earth-shattering lows. In fact, I am amazed that our marriage survived those early years. I love to tell Tracy that if we had ever decided to end our marriage, we never would have had the chance to be in the fantastic place we are in right now. So, while we don't profess to have all the answers, below is a list of some things we've learned along the way. We feel strongly about intentionally investing in our relationship. This blog will be followed with a series of blogs that elaborate on each ESSENTIAL below. Also, I'm typing this, but, trust me, Tracy is lying right beside me putting in her two cents. Hope you find it helpful!
(By the way, here is how you can sign up to automatically receive our blogs in the future):
When we first got together, Tracy would constantly lose her car keys. She would even get lost in her own small hometown. I became a human GPS. Does your spouse ever do things that drive you crazy? Think of it this way: "Acceptance" includes "receiving" the other person. Acceptance means not withholding your affection by putting your spouse on a conditional performance track. What we are not saying is that we are always thrilled with each other's choices. We just have to buy more keys and pay an exorbitant fee for a first-generation TomTom Navigator (which was worth every penny!). Our next blog will go into much more detail on this subject, including my scattered newspapers, obsession with sports, and the many other things I do that could potentially drive Tracy bananas.
Tracy and I have actually always been pretty good at this. I remember our first long car drive together. After about two hours of chatting, I realized that we hadn't turned the radio on. I had never experienced THAT before. Communication increases the possibility of intimacy, to "know" and be "known." Discussions may include secrets, opinions, successes, money, sex, in-laws, laundry, TV, calendars, spiritual matters, health, work, friendships, concerns, and a whole lot more. It's interesting to find couples that sleep in the same bed every night, but do not really "know" each other. Communication needs to feel safe. So, BE a safe place for your spouse to share even the most difficult of topics. Letting stuff incubate, without talking about it, is like marital cancer. Expect to see a future blog taking a deeper dive into communication a few weeks from now. We will show you a great tool for communication that we learned from our counselor.
Some people are more dedicated to their favorite football team than their spouse. Remember, like sports teams, we all have seasons where we play better than others. That includes our marriages. You chose your spouse for a reason. Be patient. Keep remembering why you got married in the first place. Try to get in touch with those feelings you had when you first began dating. Remember how much you liked him/her?? We have found that is like a great fire and with enough attention, those feelings can be rekindled!
We got some great advice on finances before we got married. But we could have used a lot more wisdom in many areas as we hit bumps in the road. It takes humility to ask for a fresh perspective from an outside person. We love to learn from other healthily married couples, especially those with some years on us. We also believe wholeheartedly in marital counseling.
Here is who has helped us profoundly: LIFEGATE SOLUTIONS
Webster's Dictionary lists to "forgive" as a verb. Tracy and I like that because forgiveness is certainly something that we "do"...a lot! Here is the definition: "To stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong. To stop blaming (someone), to give up resentment." We like to think of it as not keeping a record of wrongs. Letting go of the past creates an atmosphere of mercy and the ability to stay connected to your spouse. We all need forgiveness.
It cannot be better said than this:
"I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love."
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (MSG)
Also, check this out: LOVE IS SOMETHING THAT WE DO
It's true, don't ever completely grow up. Try to remember the first four letters of the word playful. The best place to practice this is with your spouse. Flirt, laugh, and smile. Be creative by celebrating your spouse's interests, drawing them into yours, and developing new ones together.
Check out our MAKE-OUT CHALLENGE
Have you ever heard the way some of us married couples speak to each other? Sometimes, we are more polite to our boss or a stranger than to our own spouse. Why is that? Our friends, Alan and Nancy Smith, are all about developing a culture of honor in their marriage. Honor requires that you treat your spouse with kindness and dignity. Let us clarify: this attitude of respect is not because they "deserve" it. Your spouse is valuable, in high regard, deserving attention, important, and admirable because they are wonderfully made by the Creator. Focus on the good. Because after all, God thinks he or she is pretty awesomely made.
Come on married folks, feel free to play, be creative, and unashamed. Sometimes it's not about your feelings. It's just plain good for your marriage. It's like glue. Don't let your energy level or issues keep you from it. It's one of God's greatest ideas. Seriously, sometimes I sit around and think about what an incredible invention it is, how it all fits together so divinely, and how a life can be created from it. Truly amazing, really. God sure knew what He was doing!
Here are some suggestions that have worked for us:
A good team utilizes players to the best of their abilities. To have a balanced marriage, pay close attention to each other's strengths and weaknesses. For example, I am better at crunching numbers than my precious dyslexic wife. I take care of the bills. She is far better at having wisdom concerning childrearing. I am willing to defer to her quite often on that one! Look for ways to serve each other. At the end of the day, you both have a common goal. Here are some of my favorite quotes on teamwork.
We hope you have found our list to be thought provoking. More blogs will follow on this subject. We would love to hear your ESSENTIALS for your marriage!
Bruce and Tracy Levinson - www.outsidethenest.net
For More OUTSIDETHENEST.NET click here!