“TV saved my marriage” 4 Ways to Reconnect Your Marriage

It was the summer of ’03. Anne and I were in a store walking through with the kids secured in our double-stroller. We were in a season of life that was a bit hectic. Cammi was 3 and Ethan wasn’t even 1 yet. We were still discovering who we were as a ministry couple not to mention as a married couple. We were trying to find our “flow” in life. We didn’t have consistent schedules, very few “dates” together, and the age of the kids placed a higher demand upon us. I think it’d be true to say, at that point, we didn’t even realize what we were missing as we had gotten used to the fast-paced, non-stop type of living.

I remember it was a Saturday. Why? We were in this conversation about going to Blockbuster (when they were opened) and renting something to watch. The odd open evening got us thinking about getting the kids to bed and having something to watch. When we walked by the movie section of the store, I noticed a “sale” sign on season 1 of the show “24.” For only $20, we could buy the whole season. I looked at Anne and said, “I’ve heard it’s a great show. It’d cost us more than that to rent all six discs. It’s not a huge investment and it’ll give us something we can enjoy together.” So we bought the set.

That day, we purposely got the kids fed, bathed, and put to bed in a timely way, knowing, we had plans to introduce ourself to Jack BauerAt 1a.m. that night, and Lord knows how many episodes later, we were more than hooked, we discovered something that had been missing from our marriage. We had made and engaged in purposeful time and enjoyment with each other. (Full disclosure: we had watched so long that we were trying to remember when and if the kids were put to bed. Obviously we took care of them, but had a funny little panic moment.)

There was more than a “binge-watching” that took place. We found something that we both loved to do together. We enjoyed it so much that we talked about it and made plans for it. Our schedules were adjusted to compensate for our new-found passion. It’s then we began to ask ourselves, “Are there others shows we’d enjoy?” From there, we tried a few shows, invested in lots of popcorn, and scheduled out when we’d watch them.

Nowadays, we really don’t watch shows together. That season ended and a new season began: walking and/or hiking. It’s quite a bit healthier, but with the kids being older, it is also a bit easier to do.

So when I say, “Jack Bauer saved our marriage,” what I’m saying is that a moment of “trying” something together helped us make a reconnection that we didn’t realize how desperately we needed.  We, like most couples, were so busy doing good things in our marriage not realizing we were not engaging in the best things. I’m not saying a TV show is the “best” thing. But look deeper than that. We found something we both enjoyed. That enjoyment gave us a place to relax and connect. And the more we did it, the more we’d anticipate and strategically plan for it. When that avenue of entertainment/enjoyment  begin to wane, we dared to “try” something else. Anne and I knew we couldn’t lose what we had rediscovered.

I’m not saying that you need to get into movies, shows, or sports (even though they aren’t inherently bad to do). That isn’t the overall point. I’d submit: if you don’t have consistent time of leisurely engagement, then you’re starving your relationship. I always say, “What wins a heart before marriage sustains a heart after you’ve married.” And if you’re expecting longevity in something, then you’ll feed it.

How can you find a “reconnection point?”

  1. Recognize the need. Don’t just do this for your spouse, this is for your marriage. People who don’t purposely work on their marriage purposely coast toward catastrophe.
  2. Be willing to try. Perhaps it’s something new to you or to your marriage. Get out of the boat and attempt something. It doesn’t have to be a huge investment of money to be a huge investment in your marriage. Remember: I’d rather a couple fail at trying than fail to try. Take the risk on some healthy activities. If it didn’t work, then the success is in the fact you did something together. If it did connect, then congrats, you found a connection point for you both.
  3. Study your spouse. You can tell if your spouse is getting into it. Watch his/her responses.Listen to see if she/he talks about it. You’ll be able to tell whether the activity “hit the mark.”
  4. Get intentional. Don’t just do something fun together, get strategic about it. The more you plan it out, the more anticipation you create and passion you build.

We get having an empty home.
We get having little ones around.
We get busy schedules.

We also get making time for the things that are the most important. Your marriage is what is most important. Find yourself a “reconnection” and make a habit of it .

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

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

 

 

 

Pastor to Pastor: 3 Key Connections and 3 Key Questions

I sincerely love my neighbors, the Chandlers. They are a retired ministry couple that have the sweetest demeanor about them. Whenever I can, I love to look for opportunities to help them. In the winter “try” to assist them with the snow removal on their sidewalk and driveway. I will say last winter, to God be the glory, I NOT ONCE sucked up and destroyed their newspaper with my snow-blower as I did every previous winter. I’m pretty proud of myself. They didn’t have to deal with the snow AND they got to read their local news.

Whenever I have conversations with Rev. Chandler (that’s what I call him), I feel that I continue to cheat myself of wisdom by not talking with him more. He is a fountain of wisdom, joy, and encouragement. There isn’t a time I walk away from him where my checks don’t hurt from smiling so much. I love my neighbors. But being ministers is about the only thing we have in common.

  • He grew up in the South; I grew up in the mid-West. That is to say, our context of our upbringing by location as well as time-frame of society is vastly different. 
  • Our ministry education came from colleges who were steeped in our perspective denominations. So our pastoral training was shaped differently. 
  • We are involved in a different denominations. The way our ministerial “coverings” operate are drastically different.
  • He is African-american and I am not. His perspective on the recent events of our nation have been absolutely fascinating. He has given me a context that is both invaluable and enlightening.
  • Lastly, he and I are in a vastly different season in life. He keeps saying he’s retired, but his schedule would prove that wrong. I’m 40, and I feel like I’ve just begun.

Coming out of my conversation with him, I’m given the simple reminder:

Never stop learning; Never stop growing.

I’m a pastor who loves talking with pastors. And, it seems, I can’t get enough of it. It doesn’t matter what someone’s age is or what church size they lead, I just want to learn and grow. In the presence of other ministers, I’m a sponge.  There are times I ask questions. There are moments I just shut up to watch and listen. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And, perhaps the reason why there are ministers “dulled” in their passion and practices is because they’ve never (or rarely) positioned themselves to be in the presence of other pieces of iron.

I had ministered that way for a while. I thought ministry was, by nature, lonely. But I soon discovered: Ministry doesn’t have to be lonely. There was iron all around. I needed other pastors. They need me. But I needed to change some mindsets: 

  • I needed to open up my eyes to see the Kingdom is bigger than my denomination and generation.
  • I needed to lower my pride to see my preferences/style wasn’t the only way to reach people.
  • I needed to make an effort to reach out instead of excuses of why I shouldn’t.

My deep passion to be everything that Christ has called me to be has pushed me out of my comfort zone. The Holy Spirit has put such a conviction inside of me that pushes me to cultivate and develop the ministry God has allowed me to serve in. And I recognize that process doesn’t happen in isolation; God designed it to happen in community. 

My mind goes to Ezekiel 47. The prophet is shown a stream flowing from the Temple. And wherever water was able to flow, life was produced. Wherever the water became stagnant, life dissipated.

...Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows….But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. Ezekiel 47:7-9; 11 NLT

As a ministers, we have a responsibility to keep a “stream” flowing into our lives as to foster growth. From personal time in the presence of God (which is essential above all others) to reading and gathering information and wisdom, there are a plethora of opportunities to get out of the stagnate and into a “growth-flow.”  You need to keep learning. The people you lead need you to keep growing. And one of the ways I have found to be extremely valuable in doing that is through 3 very key connections each with key question to ask. I also feel, it’s a very biblical model of relationships.

1 – A minister more experienced than yourself. (a Paul)
Question to ask: What would you tell yourself if you were my age?
I never want to stop being a “Timothy” looking to hear from a “Paul.” And my question is to bring the pastor into my context but with through the filter of his/her perspective and experience. I was on a plane ride back from Africa when I asked this question to another minister. Summed up, he said, “I’d tell myself, ‘someone else could have taught that class, led that meeting, and met with that person.’ I’d tell myself, ‘Sunday’s can survive without me.’ David,  you need to be at your child’s ball game and recital. You need to help with homework. You need to date your wife. You need to be by her side.”

2 – A minister similar in age but not necessarily a similar ministry situation. (a Barnabas)
Question to ask: What are you learning right now?
The context of a generation can create a deep relational connection. And it’s from this frame of reference where we should be fantastic encourager (a Barnabas) to each other. And my favorite question to ask to those of my generation is both an inquiry and a challenge. You should be learning something because we never stop growing. The question doesn’t depend upon the size, location, or style of ministry. It’s to hear about what the Holy Spirit is doing in others. It challenges me. It encourages me. And I hope what I have to share does the same for them. 

3 – A minister who is new/newer to ministry. (a Timothy)
Question to ask: What have you discovered in ministry?
This is actually a question I ask newlyweds (those who’ve been married for 1-2 years) all the time. I feel the newer perspective is absolutely enlightening as well as refreshing. I think well-experienced ministers need this perspective. The fresh outlook, the passion and excitement, the willingness to risk, and the insatiable desire to win the world for Christ shouldn’t be something we look to dampen so that “they can get a dose of reality.” The fire they have should be what challenges our passion and reignites our heart for what propelled us into ministry. 

I’ll say it again: Never stop learning. Never stop growing. But the development of your life and your  ministry cannot happen in isolation. God designed the Kingdom to be worked through in community. 

This week, meet with a Paul. Call up a Barnabas. Sit down for coffee with a Timothy. Ask some questions; let iron sharpen iron.

And let the Kingdom be glorified as you continue to grow. 

Love you pastors. I believe in you because I believe in the One who calls and equips you. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…