While there I was impressed with Tommy and LaDel’s marriage. The culture actually helped them build some healthy rhythms into their marriage.
They lived in Eldoret, Kenya which is just above the equator. Sunrise and sunset are about the same time year around, 7am and 7pm.
A typical day included Tommy and me getting up around 5am, having our quiet time and then he attempting to teach me Swahili.
After breakfast we headed out to either frame up church buildings or hold various meetings. Then we would call it a day and have dinner. After dinner that was it. I mean there were no distractions. No TV (this was the early 80’s in a third world country), no outdoor activities (not the safest thing to do) and nowhere to go. When the sun went down everything was locked up. They had iron gates to get onto their property and another iron gate at the front door.
But this allowed them to build in some deliberate practices into their marriage. For instance, after dinner they would typically sit on the couch and talk. Also, there was some minimal British TV (definitely not my style of humor) which they had adapted to. When there is none, even bad TV is watchable, I guess.
They also planned 2-3 day getaways. Once again, even in a culture with almost zero distractions, they were deliberate.
For the rest of us, you would think that all the deliberation that was evident during our dating time would carry over. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Think of all the distractions we have here in the States. We have hundreds of TV channels, Gold’s Gym, Starbucks, Sunday afternoon football, sporting events for our kids, cleaning house, and yard work.
These distractions lead to drift. The only way to overcome the drift is to be aware of the distractions and be more deliberate in your marriage.
Every marriage is different. Some have little kids, some have grown kids. Sometimes both spouses work. Schedules get complicated. Priorities shift. And drift happens.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Today you are deliberate. That’s the scary part. Too many are ready to pat themselves on the back for thinking ahead and planning a great evening. But this is just one day.
Tomorrow and every day after that the distractions will once again begin to pile up. Marriages will drift.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Are Aware of Distractions
Do Deliberate Things
You can be deliberate. The question is… Are you?
Now that is all fine and good. And I’m not suggesting you don’t celebrate the day. Just don’t get caught up in the moment of the day. What I mean is you can’t create a life time of romance around the big days.
One of the sad realities of marriage is that romance dwindles simply due to natural drift. We simply don’t think about it. Until a big day arrives. Then we make some reservations at a restaurant and order some flowers.
If marriage was that easy we could all take a one week cruise to the Caribbean and be done for the year. Which all points to daily romance, not monthly or yearly romance.
Romance is built everyday.
Romance is in the every day things. Romance is…
Running to the store to pick up some lettuce.
Sitting around chit chatting.
Listening to my spouse’s viewpoint.
Sending a text that encourages.
Cooking a favorite dish.
Watching a TV show together.
Hiking in the mountains.
Planning your next trip.
Sharing feelings with one another.
All of the above actually cost nothing. Yet Valentine’s Day is THE day to buy flowers and go out to dinner. But if you are not careful, your investment on that one day can go south in a hurry, if you ignore what romance is really built on: Daily things.
What have you done today to build a romance filled marriage?
But will there be passion, sparks, and sizzle? Or will you get in the car and head out with an empty gas tank. And I am not talking about the gas you buy. I am talking about the gas you provide. You just took that the wrong way. Alright, go ahead and laugh, but if you will hang with me I want to help you. Will your spouse’s tank be full or running on fumes?
During the winter months the gas in my lawnmowers can get a little old and not run so well. That means I need to put fresh fuel in on a regular basis.
Perhaps the fuel in your marriage has gotten a little stale. Or worse, you haven’t put any fuel in at all recently.
No worries. Here are six things you can do to get up and running at a higher level. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Acceptance – when you first started dating, being around someone who accepted you for who you were was huge. Let your spouse know that they are still the ONE.
Attention – do you remember when you dated how much attention you gave one another? It made you feel special. Take some time and give your spouse some extra attention.
Affection – this came easy when you dated and were first married. You couldn’t keep your hands off him or her. Now you rarely touch. Ouch! That hurts whether you realize it or not. Get back to some hugs, kisses, and #^&@*!
Affirmation – this is a daily habit you simply cannot afford to miss. If you have to write it down. Write yourself a note. When was the last time you affirmed your spouse? Time to refuel.
Assistance – no one wants to feel like they are doing everything alone. Look around. The list is endless. Helping with your kids homework, taking out the trash, picking up the trash off the floor, vacuuming, washing the car, or loading the dishwasher.
Activities – all work and no play doesn’t cut it in life or in marriage. Do some things together. Find something you both like to do. Carol and I are planning to go get some chicken eggs in a couple of days. Not to eat, but to hatch. But the key here is that we are going to go together.
Six things. You have one week to Valentine’s Day. Don’t show up with an empty tank. Put some fresh gas in the tank and your marital engine will be roaring!