So Kevin and I recently started attending a marriage tune-up series within our small group at church. We had become involved with this small group several months ago - there are 6 or 7 couples, most of them were good friends of ours already and the rest we have been getting to know better. What's nice is that we have become more comfortable over these past months so that now as we're getting into more "heavy lifting" we can feel more open with sharing with the group. Well, I'm usually always open and most of the girls in our group are too...I'm thinking about the men.
Anyway, this past week was the first video in the series. Then we went over a handout and answered some questions and talked about it a bit. It was a catalyst for Kevin and I to talk more with each other, which is always good. We are talkers (yes, shocking I know!) yes, but we don't often really delve into our thoughts about our marriage, unless it's positive. When we do talk about the negative, it seems to be before or after a fight. Or during. Hmmm.
This week I have been thinking about marriage - the different marriages I have witnessed, and why some have failed, some have survived but not thrived, and the few that are simply amazing. I have a few opinions - and like this blog itself, it's JUST my opinion.
For a marriage to thrive I think -
*They need Jesus!! Jesus is the only true model of grace, forgiveness, selflessness, love. For a Christian marriage that prioritizes faith and following Jesus, I believe they will receive blessings. Going to church regularly as a family, and participating in other church offered activities seems to bring couples and families closer together.
*It helps to have some money. That is a blanket statement but from what I see/read - many couples fight A LOT about money when they have none, and when they have a lot there are other problems caused in part from it. So some seems good. Also, when you have some, you can enjoy the money...a decent home in a good neighborhood, paying your bills in full, having some fun with it. When you are broke, the stress both partners feel trying to earn the money, and then deciding what-gets-paid-when, etc etc...adds a lot of stress. Stress leads to arguing, less sex, and other unpleasantries. They say money is a big factor in our country's horrid divorce rate.
*The couple should have very similar parenting philosophies.
*It helps to have a strong support system of family and friends that have BOTH of your backs.
*A couple should prioritize time alone, and not just 15 minutes while the kids watch a cartoon on a Saturday morning. Date nights and getaways are priceless...but come with a price...so this is where the some money part is helpful again. And the strong support system so you have babysitters.
*Now this is JUST my observation, so please no offense. AND this is true only for couples who have children living at home - but it seems to me that the more outside work both partners do, the more stress at home. SO, in an ideal situation, I would think a marriage would benefit from one partner working less or not at all outside the home.
*Along those lines, it seems that when a couple has defined "chores" or if they're both on the same page about housework and childrearing, all the better. Fighting about who does what/when and how much sleep they get or lose, or whose turn it is to do what....these small fights add up to feelings of resentment and bitterness. When a couple fights about who's going to do the laundry, or take out the trash...my feeling is, they are saying "I feel disrespected that you haven't done this chore, because I have done this-this-and-this and I am feeling used and abused...."
*A strong daily language of gratitude and love goes a long way. It appears that the more respectful and loving the couple speaks to each other, the more respectful and loving they feel towards each other.
*A couple that lays together, stays together. That's not true...but it helps.
*And...how about a couple that prays together, plays together...
*BUT having your own hobbies and time with friends separate from your spouse is healthy too.
*If a family has a special needs child, it seems to me that for a couple to remain healthfully and happily married, they need to have MORE of everything listed above. More money - insurance. More support - time outs individually and together. More attention to detail, more sweet talk between the couple, more respect, more gratitude, more more more.
*And last but not least....HUMOR!
I am sure there are many other factors that lead to a healthy marriage, and every marriage is different. For me, I had to have the kind of man that helped me shower after my difficult labor and c-section with Bailey. I still remember the feeling of love that came over me as he so tenderly washed me and didn't mind all of the blood and gore that came with childbirth. For others, the wife is happier keeping everything under wraps - literally. But finding what works is key, and feeling satisfied, heard, and loved.
Kevin and I love being married, but certainly have had too many arguments to count, and more tears than could fill a bucket. It's a work in progress and will be until the day we die. But I'm excited to learn more tools and ways to help our marriage along, so we don't just endure it, but enjoy it.