It’s February, Valentine’s Day is around the corner. So this is a good time to think about ways to strengthen our marriage relationship. We are going to share some insights from Marriage Works! Seeds for growing a great marriage by Mike Constantine. In Marriage Works!, Mike describes the doldrums marriage can slip into.
“In some parts of the American west, and in most of the Australian outback, you can drive almost forever, on perfectly straight roads, through a featureless landscape. Nothing unexpected, nothing interesting, nothing but you, the car, and the long, long road. After a few hundred kilometers you start craving something, anything different and exciting.
“Monotony leads to apathy, that dangerous feeling that neither of us can do anything to get rid of the boredom. Husband and wife feel trapped. Like a sailboat becalmed on a vast, empty ocean, no breezes come to ripple the sails and refresh the sailors, but sailboats differ from marriages in one vital way: the sailor cannot manufacture wind to move his boat, but every couple can break out of monotony and make their marriage delightful.”
There are things we can all do to make our marriage more enjoyable. Living and working overseas can limit the possibilities, but with a little imagination your marriage does not need to resemble a sailboat in the doldrums.
The first strategy for an exciting marriage is a joyful, positive attitude.
Mike says, “In the children’s program, Sesame Street, there is a character named Oscar the Grouch. He is a grumbler and lives, appropriately, in a trash-bin. It is really difficult to live happily ever after with Oscar the Grouch.
“Is that you? Have you lost your joy? Have you become a constant complainer? Then start seeing things in a new light. Ask God to fix your heart, and restore your joy. Get rid of the grumbles and move out of the trash-bin.”
Save some money for special treats. Ice cream is our favorite treat. Most everywhere we’ve gone we have been able to treat ourselves to ice cream. Is there a local food you can buy as a treat? Popcorn isn’t always available, but you could ask someone to send you a bag from home. A walk along the beach, a bicycle ride together, a picnic lunch, or a candlelight dinner after the kids are in bed could be just the treat to give your marriage a boost. Don’t think expensive, think enjoyable.
Again, surprises shouldn’t be expensive. “Planning and imagination cost nothing, but they can lead to some great, memorable surprises,” says Mike.
A note tucked in your husband’s suitcase when he goes out of town, his favorite meal when he least expects it, a thank you note at his office, a backrub after a hard day, or arranging for a phone call from his best friend back home are not expensive, but can really spice up your marriage.
“Many couples think this is optional,” Mike says, “but we believe it is essential. When God called the Israelites to be His people, He established, in the rhythm of their years, times of celebration. Those times became focal points of refreshing for them. You can do the same thing in your marriage. Celebrate your anniversary every year. Celebrate birthdays, and give thanks for each other. Rejoice over achievements, accomplishments, or just plain survival.”
One year we were getting ready for furlough when our anniversary came around. I wanted to have an overnight in a hotel. We had so many details to take care of and my husband didn’t think it was possible. I didn’t say any more to him but arranged for babysitting and made reservations at the hotel. When he got home that Friday afternoon I told him I was kidnapping him. He was so surprised that I had arranged everything. We had a wonderful short get-away in the midst of a storm of activity.
Don’t let your marriage get dull and boring. No matter where you live and work, with some imagination and planning, you can have special treats, surprises and celebrations. Remember that laughter is good medicine. Bring a smile to his face and give him something to laugh about often. Strengthen your marriage by making it enjoyable.