A few days ago, I sat at around a table and we talked about resolutions. I’ll be honest, I’m just not a proponent of them. Why? Because they tend to be an “all or nothing” mentality. If you’re struggling to take steps toward them, you quit. If you didn’t reach the full “resolution” then you didn’t complete it. I’ve known people who came 5 lbs. short of a “resolution” but saw it as a failure because they fell short. Where I feel that you accomplished a tremendous feat, many people consider that a resolution failure.
Yet in marriage…
Mistakes are made. Habits become bothersome. Frustrations develop. Changes are desired.
So we approach our spouse like we approach a “New Years Resolution” and ONE of TWO things happen. First, if we don’t see the progress we want to see in the immediate, we give up and “cash in” on any hope. There’s something in our culture that demands such immediate results that leaves little to no time for personal/marital growth. You can’t make a seed open and you can’t force roots through the soil. Too many want people want to give opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do a work but don’t want to give Him the time and place to develop the work both in you and your spouse.
Second, if we don’t complete the expectation (resolution) fully, then it was a failure. We can’t see the growth and progress because we’ve fixated on what wasn’t accomplished. While I’m a proponent of ceasing sinful activity in the immediate, you must allow the same amount of grace that Christ gives you while stepping forward with Holy Spirit-driven wisdom. Instead of an all-or-nothing mentality, look at the growth that was made. While an expectation wasn’t met, progress was accomplished.
In reality, most marital irritations didn’t happen overnight, yet we approach them as if they will go away that fast. So I thought we’d begin the year with THREE thoughts about seeing change.
Quick change vs. Deep Change. Are you wanting habits to change or hearts to change? While some of you are thinking, “I just want that annoying habit to stop,” there may be a deeper issues at hand. If “surface irritations” are getting out of hand, it’s a sign of deeper infection. Deep marital change begins with heart changes. And hearts that experience change are hearts that surrender to the presence of God and the peace, wisdom, and strength He provides. Position your marriage for deep change. Pray together. Pray for each other. Attend a local church together. Serve together. Encourage each other. When God enters the heart, hope rises. And whatever you face, you will only sink at the level of your hope.
Develop measurable goals. I challenge people to set measurable marital goals and not absolute resolution standards. When you set something “measurable,” you can see progress and growth as opposed to something checked off a list. Personally, I like seasonal attainable goals. It helps me look and step into something right now as opposed to the overwhelming and sometimes sinking feeling of a 12-month long resolution that seems daunting to even attempt. What type of goals can you develop?
- Financial goals. These shape your budget (saving and spending). For example: develop 3-5 short-term (6 month – 1 year) goals as well as 3-5 long-term (1-5 year) goals.
- Spiritual goals. These shape your walk with God as individuals and as a couple. For example: attend a church, get involved, personal devotions, tithing.
- Marital goals. These help you see the areas you want to grow in and develop. For example: Weekly dates, books/blogs to read and discuss, annual vacations, consistent intimacy, projects around the home.
Connect, reconnect and communicate. Communication is marital currency. And some of you want to see change, but without communication, you won’t have the currency to “fund” the changes. Anne and I have discovered the ease and beauty of kicking-off our week with a simple 15-minute Sunday night talk and how much it facilitates what to expect as well as what we experience. Obviously that’s not the only time we talk, but pulling our focus together for getting a vision for the week (and possibly goals for the week) gets us to start the week out on the same page. We also couple that with a mid-week connection to reconnect and review how the week is going. The more you talk, the more “currency” you develop. And with more “capital” in your account, the more can be used to build an infrastructure of healthy expectations and experiences.
I love you all and believe that the best is yet to come for your marriage. Would you be willing to lay down the resolutions that have been so daunting and, together, pick up some goals that the both of you can work on and grow in?
You’ve got this.
Thanks for letting me ramble…