We wanted to start off the new year by being a little transparent. 2013 was a rough year for our family. Probably the most challenging year we’ve ever experienced. We’ve seen a family member we love very much suffer from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She’s gone from having laugh-filled conversations to needing a feeding tube and an inability to speak or move within a year’s time. And her diagnosis was just the start to our 2013. We’ve had other family members we love very much commit adultery against their spouse. In one of those situations divorce immediately followed. In another, something much different. Polygamy. And no, we’re not making this up. It all happened, and to be completely honest, it’s not getting any better. Family members we dearly love have essentially cut-off communication with us and many others.
While none of these situations have occurred under our own roof, the impact it’s had in our lives is tremendous. We’ve re-learned a valuable life lesson: The decisions we make don’t only impact our own lives, but the lives of everyone around us. In fact, if there’s one thing we hope you take from this post it’s this:
You may want to write it down on an index card and put it on your bathroom mirror so you can memorize it. The decisions you make will not only impact your own life, but the lives of others around you.
Where exactly are we going with this? Well, if there’s just one New Year’s Resolution you can make this year, if there’s just one thing about your marriage you can look to change or improve, make it your friendship. Make the decision today to become a better friend to your spouse.
Outside of improving your relationship with God, this is the one decision you can make that will have the greatest impact in your life. It will impact yourself, your spouse, your children, and everybody else you come in contact with on a regular basis.
Some of you may be reading this and you’re thinking, “That’s a great idea, but HOW can I become a better friend for my spouse?” Well, there’s no easy answer to that question. You know him/her better than we do. All we can do is offer a few suggestions.
1. Find something in common you enjoy doing together.
Megan and I are about as different as two people can be. Many of the interests and hobbies I have are completely uninteresting to her. Likewise, many of the interests and hobbies she has are completely uninteresting to me. So over the years we’ve worked really hard on finding some things we enjoy doing together. One is that we work on this blog…together. Another is that every year we read at least one book on the subject of marriage, and we discuss it…together. We’ve also found some specific games that we can both enjoy…together. Through this process we’ve both put aside some of our personal interests for the sake of our own friendship. This decision helped us get through the challenges we experienced in 2013…together.
If you’re anything like us and you don’t feel that you have much in common with your spouse, take some opportunities this year to work on that. You’ll both have to give up some things in the process, but the end result will greatly benefit your marriage.
2. Grow in your love and knowledge of God.
There are a whole bunch of One Year Bible Reading plans online. Most people fizzle out somewhere around Leviticus. Others keep going and learn a whole lot about themselves and the plan God has for their life. Dare I say it, but these are the ones that usually have stronger marriages, too.
If you’re never read the entire Bible, start with the New Testament, then go to the Old. Or if you’d like, find a reading plan that includes something from the Old Testament / New Testament / Psalms / Proverbs each day. Or find some other Bible and/or Marriage study to work on with your spouse, together. Taking daily, or at least weekly opportunities to talk about what you’re learning will help your marriage grow to a whole new level.
3. Enjoy sex together regularly.
Need we say more? OK, we will. Sex can be done for a number of wrong reasons in a marriage. It can be used as a control mechanism to selfishly get what you want in another area of your relationship. It can be used for your own personal fulfillment and not the fulfillment of your spouse. It can be used in a number of ways that can bring more harm to your relationship than benefit. But it can also be used to reconnect. To reaffirm your love for one another. To remind your spouse that your main desire in life is for their satisfaction, pleasure and joy. To remind you both that you’re in this life together. That you’re one flesh.
If you’re not connecting on a sexual basis regularly (and by regularly we mean at least 1-2 times a week), make that a goal for 2014. Here’s a good read for the month of January to help you start the new year off right.
There’s just one more thing we wish to note on this subject of friendship: every marriage we’ve seen fail has failed because the friendship failed. Think about all the couples you know who have had their marriage fail. Were they good friends? Or did somebody make a decision to become better friends with somebody of the opposite sex instead of becoming a better friend to their spouse?
Make the decision to improve your friendship this year. Your friendship is THE decision that will most greatly impact your marriage and the lives of everybody around you. So what are you waiting for? Don’t just be there, be their friend.
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ~Elbert Hubbard