As we head into the final month of summer, chances are you’ve either attended a summer wedding, know someone who has gotten married, or celebrated a summer anniversary yourself. Summer is a popular time to get married, especially if you’ve lived in a place where winter includes ice and snow.
As I help young couples prepare for marriage, or older couples work on their marriage, my counseling always includes the need for keeping at least three important events in their monthly calendar. Each of these events helps address an important aspect of marriage, and when done together, can have an exponential effect on your relationship. When done regularly, extra benefits are experienced, such as increased trust and empathy, patience and kindness.
So what are these three events that should appear regularly on every couple’s monthly calendar? They are:
- Worship and Couple Devotions. A couple who prays together, stays together. Regular worship in God’s House empowers a couple to grow in Christ and to honor Him as the foundation of their life together. Not only Sundays, but during the week, a couple should treasure spending time together in devotion. Afterall, marriage and family are the original small group!
In devotion together, a couple is able to apply God’s Word to their lives, confront hardship in the strength of the Spirit, and continually rejoice in God’s grace and love. Using a Christian devotion book on marriage is a great place to start. Schedule a time in the week that both husband and wife are available, and hold that time sacred!
- Family Business Meeting. According to a survey in Psychology Today, finances are a leading stress in most marriages (“Top 4 Stressors for Couple Today”, July 21, 2018). Add to that managing a home and family, and pretty soon your marriage relationship can be overwhelmed by what Jesus calls “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.” (Matthew 13:22)
Instead of arguing over your calendar or checkbook, set up a regular meeting to discuss and decide the everyday-details of your household. At first this might be a weekly meeting, but as you learn to work together, you might settle on meeting once or twice per month, and always for no more than 60 minutes.
Such a regular meeting pays great dividends. It strengthens your communication and conflict resolution skills. It allows you to share your burdens with one another. It gives both spouses the opportunity to be involved in the decision-making. Finally, you don’t have to immediately react every time something goes wrong. You can simply say, “Darling, don’t stress. We’ll talk about that at our next family business meeting.”
- Date Night! I know you’ve heard this suggestion a thousand times, but it really is important. It’s vital that couples play together and celebrate the things that give them joy. Date night is not a business meeting, so talking about the dishwasher that needs to be replaced is off limits! Also, this is a time meant for just the two of you, so double dates or group parties don’t count.
I’ve heard a lot of excuses why couples fail to keep a weekly date night (which of course can happen in the morning or afternoon too). Young couples say that it’s too expensive to pay for baby sitters. If you have young kids, put them to bed and then enjoy a nice dinner together at home, followed by playing games or listening to music (but keep the TV off!).
Middle-age couples say that their lives are just too busy with both spouses working. If your schedules are crazy, then start planning your date nights a month in advance. Put them on your calendar, and keep that event sacred.
Older couples sometimes just roll their eyes as if to say, “we’ve been there and done that.” If your relationship seems to be stuck in the doldrums, then it’s time to try something new. Check out the events calendar for your hometown. Go to a new restaurant. Take a walk in a place you haven’t been before. The possibilities are endless.
God’s Word encourages us to be Christ-like in all of our relationships, especially our marriages. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
By keeping these 3 events each month, you are clothing your marriage in compassion, bearing with each other in forgiveness, and covering your life together in God’s love.