Day 1: Write a Song: Here
Day 2: Pray, Tell, Pray: Here
Day 3: Kiss: Here
Day 4: Meet: Here
Day 5: Read, Journal, Share, Remember: Here
Day 6: The 30-Day Challenge: Here
Day 7: Work on the Inside: Here
Day 8: Friendship: Here
Day 9: Grace: Here
Earlier this week I heard a gentleman say: "When I was younger, I was fascinated by complexity." He is a business man and he was recalling a time in his life when he dreamed of "layers and layers" in his organization. Now his philosophy is to "keep it simple."
Keeping it simple is also a good approach to marriage. Here are a few suggestions.
S: Stay close: Marriages are more likely to be successful when both partners stay close to one another. This is not always a matter of proximity, but a matter of intentionality. What I mean is that even when close face-to-face contact is impossible, you still pursue closeness through communication. There are "little foxes" that must be caught so that they will not "spoil the vineyards." (The Song of Solomon 2:15). You must always be on guard so that your heart and loyalties are not divided from your spouse. Stay close through phone calls, emails, text messages, handwritten letters, and by spending time together. Talk to one another by lovingly and courageously facing challenges together.
I: Invest in a Calender: It has often been said that "if you do not know where you are going, any old train will get you there." To survive in our busy culture you will need to have, use, and often refer to a calendar. Take a year-long approach and build in special times for your marriage. Lori and I have enjoyed 4 marriage retreats over the past 10 years. These were all non-programmed retreats. Our new approach is to schedule one marriage retreat each year for the remainder of our marriage. Retreats, date nights, and other marriage building exercises will not happen unless they are scheduled.
M Measure Progress: Your calendar you will reveal your priorities over the next 12 months. For example, if your goal is to attend a marriage retreat/event each year, what steps will you take to go from plan to reality. Write your marriage goals and priorities down for the next year and note your progress or lack thereof, Determine a way that works for you to measure progress.
P: Pursue Opportunities: Along with your calendar, work and a plan to measure progress, it is important to be proactive in pursuing opportunities. You may think that it is impossible to pull away for a week with just you and your wife, or to even schedule a monthly date night. Lori and I have 6 children and we understand the difficulty of getting away together. However, we also understand the greater difficulty of not getting away. Do an Internet search for Christian marriage events, and sign up for one. Just do it. A little bit of research may lead you to some very inexpensive options.
L: Learn Together: Have you ever read a book with your spouse? Find a good book and purchase two copies and determine a page count for individual reading over a period of a couple of days. No one is allowed to exceed the agreed upon page count. On the third day, read out loud together (and then repeat the process). Two things are accomplished: 1. You are learning from the same book--a unified approach. 2. Your out loud reading will encourage conversation based on your reading.
E: Enlist Help: Have you ever had a mentor? One of my goals for 2016 is to pin-point an older married man and to ask him if he will serve as my mentor. I want this older man to talk with me about his marriage and to provide counsel to me out of his knowledge of the Word and from his experiences. Pray for and seek out a godly mentor.
Its SIMPLE. Stay close to one another. Prayerfully make priorities and plans by investing in and using a calender. Develop an easy approach to measuring progress. Read over your priorities and plans every month and consider what steps you are taking to achieve them. Pursue opportunities to build your marriage. Learn together through reading and discussing the same book. Enlist help by finding an older couple who are willing to mentor you.
Read the following verses together tonight.
Stay close. Song of Solomon 2:8-17, 3:1-4, 8:13-14
Invest in a calendar. Proverbs 21:5
Measure progress. Proverbs 24:3-4
Pursue Opportunities. Ephesians 5:16
Learn together. Ecclesiastes 4:9
Enlist help. Proverbs 15:22
Ray Rhodes, Jr. is President of Nourished in the Word Ministries. Ray leads marriage events at churches and other venues.