Monday, May 19, 2014

What has most contributed to family health (Part 1: Marriage)

Here are some simple things that have most contributed to the health of my marriage in the last 11 years:

Consistent date nights – Since we got married over 11 years ago, we’ve been going on date nights pretty much every week. After having kids, we began to rotate babysitting with close friends. They go on a date on Thursday nights while we care for their kids and put them to bed, and then they care for our kids Friday nights.  Date nights are intentional face-to-face time and have been one of the best ways for us to improve communication and build intimacy.

Evening prayer – Mandy and I have a habit of praying together every night before going to sleep, which is great for several reasons.  One, obviously, we believe God moves when we pray.  Secondly, it’s a way for us to clear things up before ending the day. It’s very hard to pray together if you are mad, angry, or have unresolved conflict.

Time trade-offs – My friend and pastor, Andy Wood, is the one that first modeled this for me. The idea is that you arrange with your spouse “trade-offs” for times when you have to be away for personal or work reasons.  For example, if I have to work evenings several days in a row because of work demands, I’ll arrange ahead of time for us to have special family time the week following, so there’s something for them to look forward to.

Pre-planning getaways and vacations – For the last several years, Mandy and I have been taking time in the beginning of each year to pre-plan a Spring and a Fall romantic getaway (no kids) and a fun family vacation during the Summer.  We plan it right after a really busy season as a way to get refreshed and keep the romance alive ☺.  Sometimes if the budget is tight, we’ll just do a one night away nearby, but it still makes a huge difference.

Sharing spiritual experiences – This has been been one of the best ways for us to grow personally and in our marriage. Serving together with our church, reading books and sharing our learnings, going to conferences and being challenged by men and women of God, and spending time with Jesus and sharing with each other what He is teaching us.

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