I’m a fan of movies. I like suspenseful movies that bring me into their world with great effects and story lines. But if there’s a type of scene that gets my anxiety up, it’s a scene of someone who is on the verge of drowning. Watching someone working with limited space to breathe, hoping for a miracle, gets my heart racing and makes me a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s a phobia I have deep down. Or perhaps, it’s all too descriptive for how I feel when I push my limits, on every level (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional) to the extreme leaving no breathing room.
Are you in that place where the pace you’re living doesn’t give you space to breathe? Maybe, just maybe, the reason why some of the frustration you’re experiencing has NOTHING to do with the issues you’re fighting about. Perhaps the irritability you are experiencing is resulting from the little to no margin built into your life to help your marriage breathe.
God designed your marriage to be the place where the “two become one.” And that “one” needs space to breathe. Because without breathe, there is not life. So for the sake of your personal sanity and your marital sanity, you need to build in that margin (breathing space).
Margin begins with a change of “ownership.”
Love Paul’s word to the church in Corinth,
“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20 (MSG)
If you have “margin” issues, you have an ownership problem. If you are looking at life from the view of an owner, life will be run in accordance to your personal feelings and limited/finite perspective. BUT, if you see everything you have (including yourself) as belonging to the Lord, then you see yourself as a steward. And, when you handle something that doesn’t belong to you, your response has a different approach. Stewardship is about managing not owning. Therefore, you respond to what you have through the wishes of the Owner. An intentionally rundown life and marriage doesn’t glorify God; a margin-filled, healthy lives and marriages do.
Without margin, you find yourselves, not really fighting each other, but fighting to catch your breath. You begin to respond, not necessarily to the issue but from a place of “oxygen depletion. I wonder if some of your conflicts looks like a fight but, they’re really two people fighting to get a fresh breath in their marital lungs.
Be Strategic About Margin.
I propose to look at your schedule and begin to take some intentional steps toward change. Ask yourself if you have any margin built-in. I submit that every couple should strive to build…
Margins for Expectation.
Anne and I have a standing 15 minute appointment on Sunday evenings. Most of the time we’ll take a walk and have the talk will we’re strolling through the neighborhood. If not, we’ll sit on the bed and have the conversation. The substance of the talk is simply about the forecast of the week’s schedule. It puts us on the same page for the next 7 days. Usually, we’ll reconnect mid-week for another walk/talk just to see if anything has changed. Remember: Disappointment is the gap between expectation and experience. Do you best to close the gap. Which leads to #2…
Margins for Connection.
From dates with your spouse to time with the children, establishing a margin of connection helps it helps a family stay healthy. Passion is kindled by connection. And far too many people lose out on the passion simply because they lost connection. Anne and I are not legalistic about the exact times, but we use our Sunday night talks to make sure we keep our connection to each other and our children a very high priority. You want to breathe life into your fam, build a margin of connection points into your lives.
Margins of Deepening
So many couples are running on empty. You are wanting to draw some breath but nothing is breathing into you. There has to be intentional actions/habits that facilitate a deeper walk with Christ. This will look different for everyone. The goal isn’t to go into a method that isn’t a fit. The goal is to take the simple (not easy) principles of Word, worship, and prayer and put the priority of developing strategic margins to deepen your relationship with Christ. Remember: The greater the passion you have for God will pour out in your marriage. You give out of what you receive (which I think is freaking cool).
Margins for Grace.
Do you have enough space in your marriage for people to make mistakes or is there a demand for perfection? I’m not talking about turning a blind eye to sin, but developing the heart of Christ regarding the imperfections we all possess. If your spouse has ANY fear of you finding out about ANY mistakes (even simple ones), then you may need to reevaluate how much margin you need to build in and communicate to your spouse. Constrained homes strangle life; Grace-filled homes breathe in forgiveness.
Margins of Boredom
You don’t have to always have everything planned. Unplanned/open times are necessary. Boredom or unplanned timeframes gives room for the you to relax and relinquish stress. It will stretch your creativity, not to mention, stills you better hear direction from the Lord. You may find yourselves taking a walk together or reading a book in a quiet place. Sometimes when you slow down, you catch what really matters.
Margins of Rest
Closely related to boredom, rest brings a reset to your system. Like technology, sometimes a reset changes everything.Rest gives you a chance to recover. Couples who do not engage in proper restful activities, engage each other with exhausted minds and spirits. Getting proper sleep, manageable schedules, meaningful vacations, and the periodic naps are great for the both of you to enjoy and rest together.
Margins for Serving
Schedules can get so crowded with busyness. What I find couples doing, is filling their schedules with good things. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, ballgames, home projects, and the like. The things of life can be very good. But “good” doesn’t equate to the “best.” I believe that “serving” falls into the category of “the best.” Too many fill up their lives, and if there is any time/moment left, they’ll offer a token effort. I think of so many notes I’ve received from couples who stepped out to serve together and discovered the true joy in serving. I’m not asking you to volunteer for 10 different ministries at church or in your community. But choose ONE. Build some margin for serving others and watch a fresh breath get breathed into your lives.
Don’t let the pace of the culture dictate the margin you have. In a world that demands your time and promotes a frantic routine of life, be willing to stand up against the current, put your head above the busyness, and take a breath. Then purposely and strategically, begin to build margin back into your marriage.
Give your lives a fresh breath. Get some margin.
I love you all. I’m praying for you.
Thanks for letting me ramble…