In my last blog, ‘Are you experiencing SADness?“, I listed some of the stressors that are currently going on in my life. One of the things I listed was my marriage.
I would not say specifically that things are bad in my marriage, it’s just that it could be better.
One of the main challenges in my own mental health. If one partner in the marriage is physically or mentally ill, it can add an additional amount of stress on an otherwise healthy union.
The other challenge with us is intentionality. We do not always make our marriage a priority or be intentional about what we want to do within our marriage. Here is a perfect example:
About a year ago, I was looking on Pinterest and came across a ‘Couple’s Weekly Check-In’. It also included a semi-annual check-in. It listed a bunch of questions for you and your spouse to ask each other every week, and a few to ask every six months.
We started doing it. It helped us with our communication. It gave us a time to really focus on us, to be honest with one another and reflect on what is working and what isn’t.
Here are the WEEKLY questions:
- Is there anything I can do for you in this moment to help you feel more comfortable or loved?
- Is there anything I have done in the past week that may have unknowingly hurt you?
- When you come home from work, what can I do or say that will make you feel the most loved?
- Do you think you will need more closeness or more alone time over the next couple of days?
- What are the main stressors currently in your life, and is there any way I can alleviate that stress for you, if only a small amount?
- What did you particularly enjoy that you’d like to do more of? (meals, activities, TV shows, trips out, etc.)
- How are you each handling your respective household duties?
- What is coming up that you need to be prepared for?
- What issues in the house have been occupying your thoughts lately? (problems with kids, repairs needed, messiness)
- What’s going on at work, or coming up at work, that could affect your family life?
- What is something I did to make you feel loved this week?
- How did I do at showing my appreciation for you?
- Did you see any answered prayers this past week?
- What’s the best thing I can do to let you know that you are my priority and my joy?
- How can I pray for you in the coming week?
- How do you see God at work in your life?
Here are the SEMI-ANNUAL questions:
- What progress have we made toward the goals we set for this year?
- Does it seem there is anything keeping one or both of us from God’s best in our lives? What can I do to alleviate whatever it is that is holding us back?
- Is there anything I do (or fail to do) that seems to indicate lack of wholehearted commitment to our marriage?
- In what characteristic or attribute would you like to see me grow? Explain.
- How do you feel about the frequency and quality of our sexual intimacy?
One of the things that came out of us doing this is our dishes agreement. We both hate doing the dishes, me perhaps more than him. On top of that, I am a big procrastinator. I would avoid doing the dishes as often as possible, leaving them for Nick to do. During one of our weekly meetings, we came to an agreement. We would each be assigned dish duty every other week. The week for dish duty runs Monday to Sunday. By Sunday night, dishes need to be loaded in to the dishwasher or washed. That way the next person isn’t having to clean up from the previous week.
Are we perfect at this? No, I certainly am not but it eliminates the fighting over whose turn it is to do the dishes. If anything, we argue about why the other person (usually Nick) did the dishes when it is not their week.
The weekly check-in process sounds great right? Well, it is as long as you do it. That is our problem. We are not asking the questions every week. We have gone months without doing it. What ends up happening then is a lack of communication overall. One spouse may not feel free to talk about some of the issues that may be occurring outside of these check-ins, or they may not remember. Or life gets in the way and you just don’t get around to doing it.
I strongly believe that no matter what stage you are at in your marriage, whether newlyweds or married 60 years, your marriage needs to be your top priority. This can be difficult when you have young children but it is possible.
I have seen families where every night of the week parents are off with the kids for different activities. Then on weekends they are hauling kids to tournaments, camps and competitions. There is no time for the parents to connect as husband and wife. Then they wonder why they are not getting along, fighting all the time or feeling abandoned by their spouse.
A marriage needs to take priority over the children. It needs to come before your job, your parents, before your extended families.
I was reading a book about marriage the other day and they had a chapter on this very topic. She used the example of Isaac and Rebekah from Genesis 24-27. God brought the two of them together as He intended. They had children and that is when it fell apart. The children came between them and by the end, no one was getting along.
If you have children who are a little older, you can include them as part of a family meeting but ensure you and your spouse have a time for just the two of you to connect with one another.
If you were to do a Google search on Bible verses about Parenting, the bulk of them are on two main subjects: discipline and teaching them about the word of God. There are many more verses on marriage then there are on parenting.
God created us first to be children, His children, then He created us to be spouses. He created the woman specifically so the man would not be alone. Wives know that many men would suffer terribly if left to their own devices!
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
‘Let no man separate.’ To me this means no one outside of the marriage should be able to separate a husband and wife. Not their kids, not their jobs, not their families. And really, God did not intend for the couple to separate themselves either.
How are you connecting with your spouse, no matter what stage of life you are in? This whole self-isolation thing is a great way to reconnect with your spouse. Neither one of you can escape!
If you have been married for more than 20 years, share some ideas with how you have stayed together all these years.