The New Norm. 20 Lessons on Our 20th Anniversary

As usual, I like to write marriage blog commemorating milestones and moments. And for today, our 20th anniversary, I wanted to address something that, I hope, will encourage and perhaps give some couples a feeling of liberty.

Quite often we get messages that say, “I just want things they way they used to be.” Usually, it’s because something has transpired in the marriage that it makes someone (or both spouses) miss what they considered “normal.”

It makes me think of Uncle Rico spending his life trying to get back the “old days” of what he thought he had. 

This experience is not exclusive to a “type of person,” generation, or a vintage of a marriage. It’s very common response to what happens when a man and woman go through this journey called “marriage.” We desire to “go back” to something that feels “normal.”

How does this change happen? The flow of life got interrupted, a situation developed, or a challenging circumstance manifested itself. For you, it could be a number of things. Maybe a change in a spouse’s health. An unexpected development in your relationship. Perhaps it is a shift in vocation. It could be a change in the season of life you find yourselves in. Change will always be a threat to comfort. The issue of “change” will attack the “norm.”

Anne and I get it. Our marriage was shaken up at the birth of our daughter just a year and a half into marriage. What little “normal” we knew was already removed. Everything “normal” was out the window. And we discovered that marriage wasn’t about fighting to get back what we thought had but to move forward together with what we have.  

We call it, finding the “new norm.”

So today, I thought I’d give you 20 areas we’ve had to discover the new “norm” in our 20 years of marriage. We had to discover the new norm in…

  1. Expressing and receiving “love.” Our love languages changed dramatically when Cammi was born. It takes careful evaluation and intention to keep up with the changes.
  2. Having fun as a couple. We’ve had to work hard finding things we like doing together as a couple. What was fun five years ago may not be as exciting as it used to be. We need to keep trying and discovering what is fun for the both of us. 
  3. Navigating our spiritual lives. We have felt the pressure to “keep up” with a standard or do what other couples do. Anne and I love the same worship styles but do our Word and prayer times differently.
  4. Working through disagreement. We’ve learned that disagreement doesn’t mean “disunity.” We have a unified heart but sometimes different opinions. Instead of trying to benefit selfishly, we work for the good of other.
  5. Changing of Jobs. We’ve changed jobs (location, home, etc) three times in 20 years. Each job has introduced a new approach that has affected the entire family.
  6. Communicating our expectations. 20 years ago, we’d drop hints then get mad when the other didn’t “catch” what we were hinting. We love talking on Sunday evenings about our week so that neither one of us is caught off guard about what’s happening. It’s taken a lot of stress and confusion out of our lives.
  7. Expressing criticism in marriage. We believe in encouragement sandwiches. Every criticism must be sandwiched between two encouragements. But in the same vein…
  8. Being an active encourager. Encouragement isn’t saved for criticisms. Nobody will out-encourage us when it comes to our spouse. Nobody.
  9. Finding our sexual frequency. Navigating with different libidos (sex drives) and expectations wasn’t without a few frustrations. But there’s a difference in failing at trying and failing to try. As a husband with a high libido, I need to make sure that my affection isn’t laced with sexual expectation. As someone with a low libido, Anne would say (in her own words), “I am the only one gifted to satisfy my husband.” Keep talking. Keep loving. And keep getting naked.
  10. Experiencing grief. Anne lost a few family members in the first couple years of marriage. Most of mine have been in the past decade. Grief not only challenges you in the moment but it makes you evaluate how to move ahead.
  11. Parenting our children. We’ve learned to change, not who we are, but how we parent our children based upon them and the season they go through. Cammi and Ethan are vastly different and, therefore, need to be parented a bit different. The principles are the same; the methods vary. Which leads me to…
  12. The change in family dynamics. We’ve had one high school graduation and we’re 3 years away from an empty nest. It’s hits us hard at varying times. We’ve learned not to look down on each other but to be there for each other.
  13. Dealing with heartache. Our role as pastors can invite heartache. I can put up a good front, but I take the loss of church attendees to heart and criticism very hard. Anne digests it different. But again, we refuse to allow the other to journey through heartache alone.
  14. The role of hobbies. Hobbies in marriage are an enriching outlet, not a beast of burden. 20 years ago, video games were great for me, Anne scrapbooked. Today, Anne loves to workout and I love to rock climb. We do it when it fits best for our marriage so that it doesn’t take away from it.
  15. The evolution of friendships. One of the hardest things is to navigate friendships. God has brought a number of people into our lives and it’s always pained us to see circumstances and seasons change the nature and scope of those friendships. Though our “closeness” is different, our love for them hasn’t changed.
  16. The necessity of “time outs.” Like a boxer sitting down between rounds, we have embraced the art of the “time out.” There’s huge value to ceasing from a fight and take a few minutes (or an hour) to cool down to remember why you’re fighting and what is ultimately important in the marriage.
  17. Developing a thicker skin. We have learned to stop looking to get offended so easily because we’ve learned to trust the heart of our spouse. If we don’t understand what’s taken place, we’ve leaned on the heart that we know and love. But in a similar vein…
  18. We look to laugh. Laughter has been the drug of choice in our house. We are hooked on making each other laugh. In fact, having an atmosphere of laughter helps us to see what things we need to truly take serious.
  19. Margin is not a luxury. Boredom, downtime, and fun is the space by which we catch our breath. The reason why too many marriages are lifeless is because they’re running without any margin (rest, recreation, and relationships).
  20. Learning isn’t optional. The only thing “normal” about your marriage is change. Which means that you can’t afford to stop learning. You both will change by nature of the seasons you go through as a couple and as individuals. Don’t stop being a student of your spouse. Be an avid learner and grow through the changes.

How can you approach where you find yourself now? It’s by first taking where you are and what you are doing and submitting it to the Lord. I love The Message’s paraphrase of Romans 12,

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Stop trying to recreate what you had and give what you have to the Lord. Like the boy who gave Jesus what he had so that a miracle could be performed, give the Lord what your marriage has. Let Him make something beautiful and majestic out of what you currently possess.

Why try to reclaim what you had when, in Christ, the best has yet to come?

Love you all. Praying for you all as you discover the “new norm” for your marriage.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

To my wife, thanks for letting me ramble these past 20 years…

I love you.

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

Anniversary Thoughts: 19 Lessons from 19 Years of Marriage

Today is our anniversary. And as a tradition, on May 23, I do a bit of a blog to honor the bride that agreed to journey life with me. But before the list comes out, I need to give you some background to what stirred this blog.

 

 

On Sunday, I was preaching, perhaps, one of my favorite messages I’ve preached in a long time. Anger is something that, I feel, I should probably do an entire series upon as it’s something we all deal with now and will continue to deal with.

During my message, I stated that there are two types of angry people: Exploders (you explode with anger) and Imploders (you suppress your anger). Then, I asked people to raise hands on the one they identified with. I started by saying,

“Any exploders in the house? Anne, make sure you raise your hand (which she did). Any imploders? I’m one of them (in which I raised my hand). “

People laughed  because, well, it was a humorous moment. Anne and I don’t mind being vulnerable to people, which entails sharing our faults. But what followed after service was quite surprising. There were more than a few people approaching Anne almost offended for her. They were asking if what I said, embarrassed her or made her mad.

Her reply was priceless,

If little things like that set you off, you have deeper issues than that.

It wasn’t said with any type mockery or sarcasm but with a strong confidence. In one simple statement, maturity and wisdom were conveyed and no place was open for the devil to have a foothold. I can’t say it was that way when we started 19 years ago. But there have been some habits (practices) that we’ve been working on for the past (almost) two decades that have helped us have such a rapport that we can have fun and not allow the little things to steal the joy of our marriage.

So here we go, 19 lessons that has helped give us thick skin, healthy hearts, and deep love.

  1. We assume the best in each other. 
    • It is the ONLY kind of assumption we allow in our marriage.
  2. Date days are never optional. 
    • Couples that “lost the feeling of love” have stopped feeding the feeling by not dating. I may sound like a broken record, but till every couple engages in consistent dating, we’ll keep talking about it.
  3. Ice cream is the best way to end anything.
    • From ending a day to ending an argument, ice cream is something we indulge in. Most people avoid things that leave a bad taste on the palettes of their hearts. So if you have a sweet ending to something, you won’t be afraid to revisit it because you ended it well.
  4. We recommend resources to each other. 
    • From books to podcasts, when one of us recommends something, the other doesn’t get defensive. We look out for each other and that includes our spiritual growth.
  5. We refuse to try to read each other’s minds. 
    • Anne and I know each other pretty good after 19 years of marriage and 3 years of dating. But we still don’t assume we know everything the other is thinking. The minute we start doing that is the moment we stop communicating. And that’s a bad place.
  6. Celebration is about not about a “date.” 
    • Right now, it’s our anniversary and we’re at a conference. Believe me, we’d love to be able to celebrate a holiday or event on the exact date, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. We have to remember: It’s the moment that is special, not the date on the calendar.
  7. We keep real issues out of the hands of others. 
    • What you see from us on social media is the silly and the inspirational. Why don’t we post about our arguments and issues? First, because it’s none of your business and second, we want to work on it together without outside interference. Don’t worry, once we’ve learned, it usually becomes a marriage blog later when we can laugh about it. Which leads to #8…
  8. Our faults and failures build bridges. 
    • We don’t mind sharing the stupid things we do and the lessons we’ve learned. I’d rather share in order to prevent someone some pain than hear about it later knowing we could have helped in some way.
  9. Sex is like…
    • I was going to say “like cheese” but that’d mean it stinks with time. I’d say “like wine” but it get better with time but you can’t partake of it for years to enjoy it. I could say “like candy” but you can get sick from it….hmmmm….how about: Sex get’s better the more practice you give it and the importance you place upon it.
  10. Encouragement is the breath in our marriage.
    • We refuse to let someone out-encourage us when it comes to each other.
  11. We don’t have to like the same things. 
    • Outside of Jesus and enjoying laughing together, there is nothing compatible about us. It has nothing to do about being opposites; it’s about being different. And the differences make us work harder. And the harder we work together, the stronger and deeper things get.
  12. Laughter is a non-negotiable. 
    • I’m convinced that no couple laughs more than we do. It’s not that we don’t take things seriously. But having a “merry heart” positions our mind to know what to take serious and what to not take too serious.
  13. The changing of the seasons brings changes. 
    • Every season your marriage (and you as a human) goes through can dramatically change you both. From love languages to sex drives to attitudes, don’t forget to continue to be a life-long student of your spouse.
  14. Our church community energizes us. 
    • We don’t expect perfection from a community that isn’t perfect and they don’t expect it from us (cause they’re not going to get perfection). Anne and I authentically look forward to engaging with the Kfirst community in worship and in service to those around us. We get energized from watching the presence of God touch lives.
  15. There’s no such thing as “Dave’s problems” or “Anne’s problems”; There’s only “our problems.” 
    • We choose to believe the scriptures when it’s stated, “the two becomes one.” Anne and I refuse to look at each other and say, “well that’s your problem, not mine.” If it’s a problem for one, we refuse to let each other journey alone in it. We are one.
  16. I still hate tomatoes; Anne doesn’t like Tuna Helper.
    • There are some things that haven’t changed about us in the past 19 years. We don’t try to change each other to what we prefer; we work on letting the Holy Spirit be the changing agent. So it isn’t about getting my spouse to be who I think they should be. It’s about being open to the Holy Spirit’s moving in our lives.
  17. We cultivate the presence of God. 
    • We don’t do our “devotional” time with God as if it’s been checked off a daily list. Our personal relationship with Christ is cultivated throughout the day in prayer, time in the Word, and interaction with people.
  18. We are always looking to grow. 
    • After 19 years, we feel we’ve only just begun. And each season we hit we understand how much more we need to grow in the Lord and in love for each other. It seems the longer we are together, the easier it is to take each other for granted. So we’ve determined to keep growing and not allow contempt to foster itself.
  19. The best has YET to come.
    • This statement isn’t cliché to us; it’s the prophetic statement over our lives that we see a fuller life together because Christ leads us from glory to glory.

Happy Anniversary babe. No one loves you like I do. Here’s to the continued journey we have and MANY more lessons to learn. There’s no one I’d rather do life with.

Thank you for encouraging my effort.
Thank you for celebrating our progress.
Thank you for always feeding hope.

 

Oh yeah….Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 19 years…

Anniversary Blog for My Parents: 43 Lessons They Taught Me About Ministry

There’s a lot of who I am that is certainly what God has shaped through His presence while using my own personality. And there’s also a tremendous amount of ministry philosophy and practics that were modeled by (IMO) the greatest ministry mentors a pastor could have: my parents.

Don’t get me wrong, as they’ll tell you, they are by no means the model of pastoral perfection (never met the “perfect pastor”), but their ability to stay humble and keep Christ at their center for 43 years is astounding.

Of the plethora of lessons I’ve learned from them, ministry has been a major theme they’ve mentored me in since they stepped into ministry in the mid 80’s.

Here’s one lesson they’ve taught me for every year they’ve been married:

  1. The recognition of what God is doing is greater than my need to be recognized.
  2. What people see on Sunday should be the spill-over of what is happening in my life throughout the week.
  3. Check your zipper before you step onto the platform.
  4. Ministry is a calling you live and not a job you attend (24/7).
  5. There is no ministry that is “too below me” to do.
  6. The Word is priority in your private life; you cannot draw out of a dry well.
  7. Longevity in your position is both a goal and a challenge.
  8. Jesus is our priority; the methods are not.
  9. Pulpits are built upon relationship and not on stages.
  10. Sermon illustrations that border on the ridiculous stick longer in the memory of the listener.
  11. A healthy church is a missions church.
  12. Authenticity isn’t an option.
  13. If you play a biblical character on stage, make sure your “tunic” is long enough to keep the production PG.
  14. Finding what brings you rest and recovery is of high priority.
  15. People will remember who you were more than what you preached.
  16. Ministry has the potential to be a lonely place; strive to live in community.
  17. Opening up a mic for people sharing stories at funerals can be a “powder keg.”
  18. What you expect in others, do yourself.
  19. Towels are more important than titles (referring to Jesus washing the feet of the disciples).
  20. You are husband first, dad second, and pastor third (in that order).
  21. You can never stop being teachable.
  22. Don’t sing/preach with a cough drop in your mouth in an effort keep your throat from getting dry. #ChokingMoments
  23. Expect the unexpected. Never say, “I’ve seen/heard it all” as something else will come your way that will take you off guard.
  24. If you don’t know how to laugh with people, you’re going to be a miserable person.
  25. The best messages birthed in prayer and illustrated from life experiences.
  26. Your integrity is relational currency.
  27. If you’re going to fault too far in anything, fault in generosity.
  28. Being asked to do a funeral is of the highest privilege.
  29. Crowns belong at the feet of Jesus and not upon our heads for people to see.
  30. Always say, “it’s a glorious ministry” because it doesn’t always feel that way.
  31. Your children’s events are of the greatest importance.
  32. Adaptability is a necessary skill-set as you will be asked/expected to do things you never were trained to do.
  33. Unity is of extreme importance as it brings the commanded blessing of God (Psalm 133).
  34. Nothing easy about pastoring. You will have moments where you will imagine yourself NOT in ministry.
  35. Close friends in ministry are of extreme importance.
  36. There’s no such thing as “part-time ministry” even though you are working “part-time” at the church.
  37. Be the type of pastor who is know for your encouragement instead of your criticism.
  38. Humility trumps pride. Be humble enough to admit shortcomings and mistakes.
  39. Comfort zones can constrain what God wants to do. Be willing to be stretched.
  40. Empowering others is better than doing everything yourself.
  41. Don’t limit “altars” to the front of the platform. Our response to a message goes beyond the church doors.
  42. See through people’s eyes before you judge their actions.
  43. Show the same level of forgiveness that Christ showed you.

To my parents, who are celebrating 43 years together, I say congrats.  I love you more than you’ll ever comprehend.

Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 40 years and 9 months…

A Marriage of Mistakes: 18 Lessons Learned from 18 Years of Marriage

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Today is my 18 year anniversary…(just caught something as I’m typing…Let me start over.)

Today is OUR 18 year anniversary. Outside of encountering Christ, May 23, 1998 was the greatest day of my life. But in the midst of the roughly 6,570 days of marriage, I’ve made a few mistakes. Mistakes are fine; they happen. Anne didn’t marry perfection nor did I. But the goal is, if there are mistakes, and there will be, is to try to not make them again.

So I thought what better day than our 18th anniversary to list out, for educational purposes, 18 mistakes we’ve learned from (that hopefully you will learn from too).

  1. Stop comparing with other couples. They are not you.
    • I believe that you can GLEAN ideas from another couple; just don’t think you need to duplicate who they are.  
  2. When your wife goes into labor, don’t make her wait to leave for the hospital so that you can unhook and bring your Playstation.
    • BONUS: Don’t tell her you’re bringing the Playstation because you “don’t want to be bored.”  That’s a whole other mistake.
  3. Assumption is cancerous to the unity in your home.
    • Assumption the devil’s workshop. If you’re going to assume ANYTHING, then always assume the best.
  4. Don’t sneak up on your wife purposely because you think that scaring her will be funny.
    • It’ll never be funny….never!
  5. Devaluing your wife’s idiosyncrasies devalues her personally.
    • God created each of you with idiosyncrasies none better than the other. They are a part of your personality.
  6. When your apartment is on fire, while she is grabbing the wedding photos and irreplaceable items, don’t grab the Playstation.
    • Things can be replaced. (Yes, I have issues and am getting help.)
  7. Couple’s devotions don’t work for Dave and Anne.
    • We both felt guilty for not doing them. The guilt lasted till we realized that we both have the same elements to a walk with Christ, but we do them differently and at different times. It doesn’t stop us from looking for moments to pray over each other, but we’ve felt a release of having to do everything the same in our journey of following Christ. Our steps may not look similar, but the steps will always be together.
  8. Don’t demand what your love language craves.
    • Serve first. Give first. Speak her love language first.  Let your serving lead to reciprocal giving.
  9. Refuse to try changing your spouse.
    • Pray that God would BLESS her and CHANGE you. Let the Holy Spirit do the changing and quite trying to play his role.
  10. Always offer the last of the ice cream so that, according to scripture, “it may go well with you.”
    • I may have taken that scripture a bit out of context but ‘yall know what I’m talking about.
  11. Anne doesn’t have to like sports.
    • My spouse liking what I like is not essential to a happy marriage. Our differences in leisure, hobbies, and overall personality adds to the makeup of our marriage; it doesn’t take away from it.
  12. The silent treatment might be the stupidest way to communicate anger.
    • I’m good at it. And as a professional in it I can confirm that it doesn’t work and does more damage than you desired.  
  13. I wish someone would have told me how to have a “timeout” during disagreements.
    • Instead of throwing a chair (early in our marriage), stepping away to calm down and remember what’s important would have been a far more constructive decision. My blow-ups created more casualties.
  14. Snuggling is fun for moments, not the entire night.
    • It sounds good, and I’m a physical-touch guy, but you gotta have your own space at some point. It’s the only way to get some solid sleep.
  15. If I’m after a win for “ME,” it’ll never be a win for the “WE.”
    • If the win isn’t for the marriage, it’ll never be worth the price of victory.
  16. I don’t “babysit” my kids. I don’t “watch” the kids so that my wife can go out and have a token evening with her friends.  
    • I’m their father. I spend time with them because I love them, I need time with them, AND they need time with me. Also, your wife needs some sanity away from the kids. Plan a father/kid evening in your weekly/bi-weekly schedule.
  17. Grudges rob more time than you want and consumes more of your mind than you’ll ever anticipate.
    • “Will you forgive me” and “I forgive you” may be the 7 most powerful words you and your spouse can speak. So speak them often.
  18. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help; it’s a sign of weakness to NOT ask for help.
    • Anne and I are very thankful for the men and women who have, and continue, to speak into us. We haven’t “arrived” yet.  There’s still a lot to work on

I’m capping it at 18 (having made more mistakes than this list can contain). But I love that practices what the Apostle Paul taught us,

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13.

Love ya babe!

 

Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 18 years…

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad: 42 lessons they taught me about parenting.

I often get asked about when my passion for marriage began. It began with my parents, Hal and Linda Barringer.  Watching their marriage not only made me want what they had, but shaped the marriage I have.  Don’t get me wrong, as they’ll tell you, they are by no means the model of perfection (ever seen my dad BBQ in shorts,  black socks, and dress shoes after church?), but their ability to stay humble and keep Christ at their center for 42 years is astounding.

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Of the plethora of lessons I’ve learned from them, parenting has been a major theme they’ve mentored me in.  Here’s one lesson they’ve taught me for every year they’ve been married. 

  1. Jesus is our true north.  Our family centers upon him. 
  2. Sometimes your just your presence will speak louder than anything. (They never missed a football game)
  3. Effort is always rewarded above accomplishment. 
  4. Love was never earned.
  5. Michigan NOT Michigan State.
  6. You can’t love your children the same.  You may love them the same amount but you show it different because they are different!
  7. Somehow, when the grandkids showed up, I’ve taken a backseat to them.
  8. Every moment can be a teachable moment. 
  9. Mom and dad NEVER sought to be my best friend. (I had enough friends…I needed parents.) 
  10. You can survive ANYTHING. (Their handling of the most devastating moment a parent could ever experience has profoundly changed me and countless others.) 1926778_10152316472773537_6248583889657699656_n
  11. Apologizing to your children for your human mistakes will make you a hero. 
  12. Homes should be a source of laughter.
  13. Be in the Word. (Worn out bibles were a common sight in the house.)
  14. Church isn’t optional for us as a family. (When the doors were opened, Kid’s Church or not, we were there.)
  15. Hard work is important to develop at the youngest of ages.
  16. It’s impossible to say “I’m proud of you” enough to your kids. 
  17. Having a reputation of being the only dad who’ll QB for the neighborhood kid’s football game is a cool thing to have.
  18. Serving your church community is what you do.  Be the first to volunteer.
  19. Don’t be naive about your children. (The words “my kid would never do that” didn’t come from their mouth. Because Rachael and I are human, they always knew we were capable of doing wrong.)
  20. Forgiveness is liberating.
  21. Your kids need to hear you pray over them in locations other than the dinner table. 
  22. Tithing wasn’t optional. My first 10% belonged to Jesus. 
  23. Lying can get your mouth washed out with soap.
  24. I can never give them too many grandkids. 
  25. Dad’s first ministry was to his wife.
  26. Sickness demanded prayer and anointing oil (from dad’s key chain). 
  27. Trying to steal a taste of turkey while dad is carving it without getting stabbed is a part of Thanksgiving.
  28. Phone calls with mom rarely end without an “I love you.” 
  29. The only future that mattered was that I was serving the Lord. (My vocation mattered less than my direction.)
  30. I’m not psychologically damaged because I was spanked. (If I had a “timeout,” it was after I was spanked.)
  31. Mom had more grace with report cards.  (It’s why dad made the rule that report cards came to him first.)
  32. Giving to missions wasn’t optional.
  33. They grew their marriage to outlast the kid’s time in the home.
  34. No human being exists that can out encourage mom and dad. 
  35. Dedication in the dictionary says, “See Hal and Linda Barringer.”
  36. Kids need to see their parents show affection to each other (verbal and physical). 
  37. Kids need to receive affection from their parents (verbal and physical). 
  38. Dad always stood in defense of mom to us.  (Talking back to her was never tolerated.)
  39. Humility means we step back and let God take the curtain call. 
  40. Don’t wait till tomorrow to spend time with your children.
  41. Crowns and accolades belong at the feet of Jesus.
  42. Live out a Romans 8 philosophy of parenting: I may disappoint my parents with my actions, but nothing I do as their child will stop them from loving me.

To my parents, who are celebrating 42 years together, I say congrats.  I love you more than you’ll ever comprehend. 

Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 39 years and 9 months…

 

Anniversary Thoughts: 17 marriage thoughts for each year of marriage

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 23rd…I’ll celebrate 17 years of marriage to my best friend.  So I thought I’d share 1 thought per year we’ve been married.

17 thoughts about marriage that I’ve gathered over 17 years…

1. Be a spouse that admits you fall short of being perfect but excels in love for Jesus.  We couldn’t ask for more from each other.  We shouldn’t expect more in each other.

2. Laughing is severely under-sold and cannot be indulged in enough. Stop taking life so flipping seriously.  Laugh.  Laugh some more.  Get over your scowl and attitude and get some joy in your marriage.

3. Fun isn’t optional.  It’s just thought of as unnecessary.  My observation is people “fall out of love” (that’s for another blog) with their spouse because they stopped having fun. When you dated and had fun, you fostered the love.  Why is it different now that you’re married.

4. Take care of yourself. I’m not promoting you have to be a certain shape or size.  I’m not saying people need to go get a gym membership or get Botox in your lips.  Personal care makes a statement of care and concern to your spouse.  I remember a conversation at years ago with a recently married friend. “I don’t have to take care of myself any more…I’m married.  There’s no one left to impress.” SMH

5.  Sex gets better over time.  As long as the two of you have a servant’s heart and mutual understanding, sex is like a fine wine (even though I don’t drink), it get’s better over time. (I could have used the metaphor of cheese but cheese tends to stink.)

6. Swedish fish has increased the intimacy of our evenings.  (Note: Intimacy doesn’t equate to sex.)  Intimacy is conversation and interaction/connection.  When one of us brings them into the room, the other sits up and hold out their hand.  It’s kind of hilarious. We eat and talk.  We snack and watch shows. Find you a common snack in your marriage.

7. Serving together is best… Finding ways to serve together cultivates a humble heart as well as feeds an attitude of team work.

8. …YET, discovering our individual roles in ministry help us complement each other. We are strong in different areas and allow for each other to flourish in them without feeling competitive with each other. Encouraging each other helps us not to feel we need to fit into someone else’s mold but be the person God created us to be

9. Compatibility is overrated. We are opposites born and raised from completely different families. We see our lack of compatibility as a strength, not an excuse to look elsewhere.

10. The annoying things from 17 years ago…yep, they’re still annoying. I love Anne.  She loves me. Periodically, we both annoy each other.  But hey, life is too short to get hung up on annoyances.

11. Any win that isn’t about the “we” is about “me” and, therefore, isn’t really a win.  When I approach anything out of selfishness, no body really wins.

12. What we learn, we gladly pass onto others.  If we can save a young couple from ignorant mistakes…if a couple can get some encouragement from feeling like their the only ones who have ever struggled…if we can be a mentor…it’s because others did that for us.

13. Generosity has become the norm.  We didn’t start off that way. But when we discovered how amazingly generous God is with us, we want to reflect that type of generosity to others.  Tithing is a must.  Missions isn’t optional. We love randomly blessing people. If God has been so giving to us, how can we hold back? We take no pride in this.  We just think every couple should experience the joy in giving.

14. Parenting is tougher than we thought yet more fun than we imagined. I didn’t realize how different two kids could be and, yet, love them so deeply.  Most of our frustration comes when we see ourselves come out in them. Our joy is found in watching them serve Jesus.

15. We love being spiritual parents. Serving the next generation has been one of the greatest privileges of our lives. We have a few hundred students, most of whom are adults now, who we get to watch graduate, get married, and start families.  Anne and I love them like they’re our own kids.  Frequently, we still get calls and messages from them about wisdom, direction, etc. and we love it.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.

16. Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t good enough. We try to never say “I’m sorry.” We feel the proper way to seek forgiveness is saying, “Will you forgive me?” Why? Because it demands a response. The proper response is, “I forgive you.” It’s more than a statement. It needs an action attached.

17. It’s all about the journey.  Destinations and milestones are great to arrive at, but they’re not a place to live.  Keep growing and learning together.

I love you babe and look forward to learning more and growing old with you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…for 17 years.

 

 

Marriage Blog: 16th Wedding Anniversary…16 simple thoughts on marriage.

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It’s hard to believe she’s put up with me for 16 years. We’ve had our struggles and challenges but I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else.

I thought this week’s marriage blog I’d simply give you 16 Thoughts on marriage:

  1. Christ MUST be your foundation. Marriage by itself is hard. I can’t imagine doing it without Jesus.
  2. You cannot find fulfillment in each other. We find our fullness in Jesus (my sermon in two weeks).   Jesus is our foundation AND our fulfillment.
  3. You can’t get married based upon what you get out of it.  Approach marriage by what you can give/serve.
  4. No husband has ever been taken to divorce court for doing too much housework.
  5. Egos and stereotypes must be left at the front door.
  6. Date often…then date some more.
  7. Be givers: Tithe. Give to missions.  Give to benevolence.
  8. Find ways to volunteer/serve together.
  9. Never met a couple going through divorce proceedings who has a consistent sex life.
  10. Selfishness has no place…EVER.
  11. Forgiveness is immediate.  Trust is built.
  12. Embrace healthy financial stewardship. Run from debt.
  13. Be a constant student of your spouse.
  14. Don’t stop reading.
  15. Encourage her/him everyday. Find ways to say and express “I love you.” Don’t take your spouse for granted.
  16. Find things to celebrate.

Do you have any to add to the list?

Thanks to Anne for giving me 16 of the greatest years ever.

Thanks for letting me ramble…