More than the Spider: 4 Thoughts on Bringing Value In Marriage

I hear it quite often,

“There’s a huge spider. I need you to come get it.”

In my home, it’s a statement both my wife and my daughter use. It never is “There’s a spider…” but “There’s a HUGE spider…” And, over time, their judgement on “size” has dulled my urgency a bit. When I get to the location of this immense arachnid, I can barely see it as it doesn’t resemble anything I’ve seen on Arachnophobia. I confess moments of mocking them in their views of the danger and/or size of the spider. I’ll even admit to lashing out in frustration. I can be engaged in something, but they insist I stop everything I’m doing to tackle this menace that is threatening the very existence of our home and family (even as I type that, sarcasm drips from the screen).

Value is a huge issue in today’s marriage. And if there’s anything that I’ve learned from taking care of the “huge” spider is this: How I respond to my spouse will add value or remove it. How I acknowledge and react to my spouse can make them feel as a significant member of the marriage or reduce them to feeling like just a bystander. I’d love to say that I’ve successfully mastered this. But based upon some of my latest responses, I have some growth to do.

Far too often, I hear, “I don’t feel important in my marriage.” Before you chalk this up to the thought of a young adult early in their marriage, this has been the sad statement of those 20+ years into marriage. It is the fatigued, tear-soaked confession of someone longing to have their spouse recognize and embrace them place by valuing what he/she finds as “important.”

My simple spider lesson: When I value my spouse’s concerns, I value my spouse.  The spider (in and of itself) doesn’t matter to me personally. But it matters to Anne. Therefore, the spider is important to me.

How many “spider” issues have we ignored and ended up blowing up? You ignored a special day or moment because it “wasn’t a big deal” to you. And, lo and behold, it escalated to something bigger.  Why? Because it really wasn’t about the “thing” but about the “person.” Pausing my DVR to take care of the spider cost me nothing and gained the appreciation of my wife. Mocking or devaluing her concern gained me nothing and cost me a moment or, perhaps, an evening. Again, “spider” issues are less about the “spiders” and more about value. And if you can get that, I promise, the outcome will pay healthy dividends.

Here’s few thoughts about value:

Find your value in Christ.
I’m huge on John 1 where scripture says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Unless you find your fullness in Christ, you will always place demands on your spouse that he/she are not equipped to provide.

Your value matters more than most. 
Who amongst us doesn’t want to feel important to the most important person in our lives? I’ll be honest, someone can tell me “Great sermon last Sunday” and it’ll encourage me. But if my wife says it, I’m ready to go take on the whole world. And the same is about value. When YOU are the one to bring value to your spouse, the weight is heavier than if it came from her/his parent or friend. Your reactions and responses carry tremendous weight. Use them to add value.

Don’t do it to get it. But don’t be surprised if you do.
Anytime you do something in order to get something, others will read it as manipulation. Your spouse can sense if you’re doing this to try position them for personal gain. Stay about from “keeping score” or “comparing what you’ve done” so that he/she can see how awesome you are. Reject anything that exalts you and do everything that reflects the Christ in you. Jesus taught us to serve first. He showed us how much He valued us by His sacrifice. And I think we can learn something from that. We don’t serve in order to be served. But don’t be surprised if your spouse catches that Christ-likeness you possess to show up in him/her.

It’s not about convincing your spouse “what is” and “what isn’t” important.
Stop trying to change your spouse. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. It’s your job to love your spouse. Far too many people waste precious moments on trying to convince your spouse of what is “important” when you really need to work on conveying who is “important.” Step back from “fixing” or “changing” and look at loving, encouraging, and embracing.

My personal reminder about “spider issues”: The “thing” (in and of itself) that is important to Anne may not be important to me. But what’s important to me is Anne. Therefore, what’s important to Anne should be important to me.

Get up and take care of the spider. Show value and build up your spouse today.

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.

 

Weekly Marriage Checklist – 8 Things EVERY Marriage Should Be Doing On a Weekly Basis

Today I wanted to get into an incredibly practical marriage blog.

My wife and I are list makers.  Even though we do our lists differently, it gives us both a sense of accomplishment to check them off. I use my phone (Asana).  She’s old school with pencil and paper.  But nevertheless, we want to look over our days and week and feel we got done what needs to get done. 

So today,  wanted to give you a simple checklist to help with some items, I believe, should be on your weekly radar. 

Every week, I believe EVERY couple should have…

  1.  A Weekly overview.
    • Anne and I have a standing appointment every Sunday night where we talk through our week.  It’s a simple touch to keep our communication and expectations on an appropriate level.  We talk through our personal schedules. We talk though family schedules. It’s here were we decide when dates, family connection, and downtime is needed.  It’s amazing how this little AND SIMPLE action can clear up what to expect and keep our communication healthy.
  2. A Worship Point.
    • Being a part of a church community TOGETHER is a huge foundational piece of marriage. Being together to worship, serve, and engage in your church will help build relationships necessary for your personal growth as well as marital growth. On top of that, your involvement in your church community can be a tremendous blessing to others. See yourself as a part of a greater body.  You are necessary to others and others are necessary to you. 
  3. A Date.
    • I think every couple can carve out of your week an hour or two. Do a meal, get some ice-cream, or go for a walk at a park. A date doesn’t have to have much (if any) cost.  Get out of your head that you need to do something extravagant (not that I’m against that) as a “date.” I’m speaking to time for the two of you to have that relational connection you need.  
  4. Alone Time. 
    • From hobbies to leisure time, having time to yourself is necessary.  Don’t get me wrong, I love time with Anne and she loves time with me. But it is healthy to have a few moments where there’s a bit of separation. Anne and I don’t watch all the same shows/movies.  We don’t enjoy all the same hobbies.  That doesn’t take away from our marriage.  It adds to it. 
  5. A Place(s) of Generosity. 
    • There is a true joy in being generous as a couple.  When you give out of your time, talents, and treasure, you foster the heart of God (of which you were made in the image of). For almost two decades, Anne and I are faithful givers to our local church. We give to missions and benevolence. But we also look for opportunities to bless those in our community.  Generosity will foster a depth of joy that so many people take for granted. 
  6. An Intimate Moment(s).
    • Sex and intimacy are not the same thing nor is Sex the source of intimacy. It should be seen as an expression of intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that healthy marriages have a consistent sex-life.  What the frequency looks like isn’t up to you the individual. It’s what has been agreed upon by both you and your spouse (prevents one libido from lording over the other). But remember: Intimacy doesn’t always include sex.  It is far deeper. It’s that intimate connection where you selflessly serving your spouse’s love language. Intimacy doesn’t have to fade in your marriage, it just looks different over time.  Find what your spouse’s love language is and look to serve it without strings attached (expectations of reciprocation). When you connect the heart of your spouse, that is intimacy. 
  7. Laughter/Fun. 
    • (This is a bit more than a scheduled event. It’s more of an element that’s needed.) Couples that schedule fun moments are far healthier on EVER level (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual).  Anne and I will watch clips on Youtube in the evenings. Sometimes we’ll send them to each other over Facebook messager.  Maybe you two like games and/or activities.  It could be movies or books.  Find what the other enjoys that fills your marriage with smiles.
  8. Heavy Encouragement.  
    • This should be a daily point instead of a weekly one. My rule I give couples all the time: Don’t let anyone out-encourage you when it comes to your spouse. For too often, people only speak up when they see something wrong.  Why do we build that culture in our marriages? Catch your spouse doing something right. From accomplishments to even just the simple effort to attempt something, find ways to fill your spouse full of encouragement. 

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There’s probably some other things you can add to it specifically for your marriage. But, in my opinion, these are essentials that I don’t think couples can do without. 

Love Jesus passionately. 
Love your spouse passionately. 
Make both a heavy priority in your life. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

What my parents didn’t teach me about marriage – Part 1

From the beginning of this new blog series, I need to let you know something: 

My parents are amazing. 

Nope…you won’t need to wait for the “other” shoe to drop.  There is no “but” as if I was going to use the blog-osphere to blast Hal and Linda (my parents) and my criticism of their job at raising me and my sister.  

Please don’t take any of the following blogs as a guilt trip to those who have struggled or have made mistakes.  I do not elevate anyone above Christ. But I do obey scripture to “give honor to whom honor is due.” 

But I found myself in a mode a few weeks ago.  I had been doing some pre-marital counseling, received phone calls from other pastors about marriage issues, and had been reading some marriage blogs.   As I read the blogs and thought though my phone calls, I realized something about some of the unhealthy marital situations I was a privy to: 

I didn’t see many of those issues growing up.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Hal and Linda Barringer have their issues.  How do I know that? I have issues and I’m told I have a lot of them (especially my father) in me.  So they are not perfect in the least.  

But…it began with a small list. And with that small list, I want to pour out in a series of blogs the things my parents didn’t teach me.  

First, what didn’t my parents teach me?  They didn’t teach me that the children were priority over the marriage

I knew dad loved mom.  I knew mom loved dad.  I knew that when the nest was empty, what I had seen before me would last because their marriage didn’t stop because of 3 children born.  Even when tragedy hit our home and my younger brother went to be with Jesus, what I saw before me was a strong marriage (not perfect) founded in a faith in One who has the strength, mercy, grace, and peace to get our family through ANYTHING!  They will forever be living testimonies of that. 

Why are so many marriages failing in the mid-years of life? There are numbers of things I could list.  At the top of the list, there are those that put their marriage on hold because of children.  Hal and Linda did not.  They didn’t teach me that.  In fact they taught me the contrary. 

In my years of being at home, not once if I expressed I needed them, did my parents ever fail at stepping up.  We were not spoiled (even though I think my little sister was more spoiled than me…but that’s an older brother speaking).  There wasn’t a single football game that was parentless. Every major event in my life, was always guarded in their prayers, involvement, and wisdom.  I know they have regrets…but who amongst us can’t look back with 20/20 and want to change things to make things better?  

What Rachael and I viewed was strong.  They would hang out with friends.  They served together in ministry.  They prayed together.  They laughed together.  To the chagrin of me and Rach, they kissed and hugged in front of us (which still disturbs me).  

But know this: I, as a child/teen, NEEDED them to place their marriage as priority.  I need to see a father defend his wife.  I needed a parent structure that had a unified front. For my life as child and teen, I need to view two people who stuck together, through the power of Christ, traverse through life-events that have the power to cripple marriages.  I didn’t need a best friend(s).  I needed parents.  School and church provided me with the friendships to fill those needs.  I needed mom to love dad and dad to love mom.  I needed my parents, together,  put their marriage as a priority.  Because of that, I benefited with the structure and example I needed to know what a healthy Christ-centered marriage looks like.  And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Mom and dad, you didn’t teach me that your marriage was secondary to anybody or anything.  When I think of you, I think of 1 Corinthians 11:1

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

That’s what I’ve done.  I’ve followed you.  Like you, I’ve got some regrets with my 20/20 hindsight (hey, we’re human).  But me, Anne, and my children are very grateful that they have you to follow. 

See ya in part 2 of the series.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 3

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Genesis 2:24

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.