Make investing in your marriage a part of your regular rhythm.
We all have rhythms in our lives. Rhythms are regular, repeated patterns. They are actions, events, or processes that get repeated on a consistent basis. Examples would be how we eat at certain times, how we take vacations during a specific season of the year each year, or the process of actions we take when we wake up each morning. These routines and rhythms shape us, and they show what is important to us. We have them at work, in our leisure time, in our families, and even in our marriage. Some are healthy, and some are not, but we all have them. I want to share with you one rhythm of my marriage(there are many) that has paid dividends for my wife and I, as well as our adult children.
Darla and I have been married for 28 years, and early on in our marriage, we started a rhythm of getting away from our home for one night to just connect. I have to admit that this wasn’t really intentional, but it became intentional as we began to see the benefits. Once about every 3-4 months, we would go away for one night. There was no agenda. There was not a big plan. We would go to a friend’s lake house or cabin or a hotel and just enjoy the time together. The goal was to just be together. The temptation was always to discuss everything other than ourselves, like children, finances, work, in-laws, and siblings, but we worked hard to focus on our relationship. Sometimes we would eat a nice dinner. Sometimes we would go to a movie. Sometimes we would rent a movie in the room. Sometimes we would walk around a mall. You get the idea, but the goal was to be together—twenty-four hours of just us. I can’t say that it changed everything in our relationship, but it became something that we looked forward to and something that we did intentionally for our relationship. It was difficult when our kids were young, and I can remember a conversation we had at one point about how it is more work to get them ready and line up a babysitter than it is to stay home. Sometimes we even wondered if it was worth it, but we kept doing it. It didn’t get a whole lot easier when they became teenagers because they were so busy, but we pressed on and tried to keep that rhythm. Rhythms can become so normal that you don’t really see the benefit of them if you don’t pay attention. At one point, Darla and I found ourselves there. We did these one-night trips three to four times a year, and we loved them, but we didn’t really come back and talk about the benefits until one frustrating evening during a long week. We had forgotten or been too busy to go away together, but life was so busy at that point that we didn’t think about how long it had been since we invested in our relationship in this way. Life got in the way. During this particular evening, our whole family was in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, and Darla and I were debating (arguing) about something. We were starting to raise our voices, and the “gifts” of sarcasm were kicking in. The words were becoming sharp, and feelings were starting to get hurt. One of my daughters, who was in high school at the time, spoke up and said, “you guys need to do one of your getaways!” Now that statement didn’t help the tension in the room, but later it was a moment that we reflected on. She was right. We were so busy. We were busy doing good things. We were busy serving our church, raising our kids, serving our community, and leading people. We hadn’t “done one of our getaways” in quite a while, and the cracks in our relationship were showing. We needed to invest in our marriage again and fight back-to-back instead of face-to-face. It was an important moment for me to understand how important it was for Darla and I to continue to work on our marriage. It was also a moment where I realized that our daughter had noticed our rhythm. She noticed that we got away together several times a year alone. She noticed that it was on purpose. She noticed that it made difference in our relationship with each other and with our entire family. It was not only making an impact on our relationship, but it was making an impact on her. What a sobering moment to realize that our marriage not only impacts us but it impacts our children.
Fast forward 15 years later, and now our children are adults and are married. Darla and I still do our “getaways.” We still try to keep that rhythm. We also get to watch our young grandchildren overnight from time to time so that our Daughter and her husband, and our Son and his wife, can “do one of their getaways.” We didn’t see it at the time, but we see now that the rhythm Darla and I developed not only helped our marriage but was a model for our children. It is helping their marriages. And I can only hope that our grandchildren see the benefits of their parents doing intentional work on their marriages, and it impacts them. God is so faithful! Psalm 100:5 says, “His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to ALL generations.”
So if you are married, let me leave you with this question: When was the last time you and your spouse just got away for a night? No kids. Find a sitter. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. There doesn’t have to be a reason. Make a plan. Go invest in your relationship. I hear all of your excuses: kids, work, sports, hobbies, money. I’ve been there, but I’m telling you, it is worth it. It will be good for you, your marriage, and your family. Make this a rhythm of your marriage.