The "Holymess" of Marriage
The "Holymess" of Marriage
Feb 08, 2018
Ah… marriage. Gret and I often refer to marriage as a “holymess.” The holy parts of a relationship go hand in hand with the messy parts… and, in fact, you can't have one without the other. All by the grace of God the times when things are great get us through the rough patches, and the rough patches help us learn, grow, and pull closer together.
This article stems from our own personal holymess. We share these thoughts with you because we've learned many of them the hard way. Some days it feels like all we do is fail. Yet in the midst of every mess, problem, heartache, and struggle; our loving Father has showed us in grace and helped us to mature, each as individuals and as a couple. And every day we keep on learning. It's a process, this marriage thing.
We hope and pray that these thoughts on “The Holymess of Marriage” will challenge you, and encourage you to work toward a strong, healthy, holymess marriage.
Pastor Leon and Gretchen
9 Ways to Stay Connected
LISTEN MORE. The book of James encourages us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Listen to your spouse’s feelings, dreams and goals. Good listening may require you to modify or adjust your own position as you begin to encourage and appreciate the “why” behind what he or she desires. This type of genuine interaction may even initiate a reciprocal response.
THE POWER OF PRAYER. Whether it's Christian-based research or a sociological study from a secular institution, the conclusion about praying together as a couple is the same: The more often a couple prays together, the healthier the relationship will be. Times of prayer should be a "must" in your relationship. Whether you pray out loud or silently, read something from the Book of Common Prayer, or use a prayer journal, pray before meals, or pause in the midst of a difficult situation, prayer should be an integral part of your marriage.
TRY NEW THINGS. Part of the fun in marriage (and life) is trying new things together. This could be as simple as sampling food from another country for the first time (have you ever tried Aloo Gobi… delicious!) or as involved as planning a trip to another country. Couples might want to be even more adventurous and try things that confront their fears, such as whitewater rafting or going ballroom dancing. Whatever it is, make sure to do it as a team. When a couple can share new experiences, overcome challenges, and create unique memories together, the relationship becomes fun and exciting. Intimacy is forged during these times, and the fires of passion are often stirred up. Never underestimate the power of trying something new.
KEEP DATE NIGHT FRESH. The healthy habit of weekly date nights is familiar to many couples. But even when these dates are scheduled and prioritized, they can begin to feel stale and routine. It is hard to figure out what to do week after week. Here are a few creative date night ideas to keep things fresh:
- Get dressed up and go out for dinner at a fast food joint, and then go to a local game arcade for some air hockey and video games or try miniature golfing… extra points if you wear heels and a suit.
- Use Google to pick a random restaurant and go there. Make sure you’re both in a flexible mood, as part of the fun is getting lost and trying new things.
- Search online or dig through a cookbook for new recipes. Head to the grocery store to get the ingredients and then cook the meal together. Enjoy with a glass of your favorite beverage and a movie.
BUSINESS MEETING. Marriage can often feel like a business. On a daily basis, couples must hash out schedules, finances, job issues, home needs, kids, errands, and so on. It becomes easy to allow these things to take over life and dominate conversations. When this happens, it's natural to feel emotionally disconnected from each other. A healthy way to handle this problem is to have a regular business meeting once a week, every other week, or once a month… whatever works best for your needs. During this meeting, tackle as many of the decisions and business type issues as you can. Obviously, immediate needs will pop up during the week and have to be addressed, but having a regular business meeting will cut down on the amount of time you spend each day discussing responsibilities and will free up that time for fun conversations. We have found it very helpful to have our business meetings during walks. Being outside and active keeps tensions low and the conversation focused on the issues at hand.
DEVOTIONS. Devotions are important. They are times to set aside the worries and cares of the day, week, or month and focus on God together. This time will look different for each marriage. One couple we know spends a few minutes every morning reading Our Daily Bread together before starting the day. Others purchase couples devotionals to read and discuss once a week. It can also be helpful to schedule a special date night to share what you both have been learning in your individual devotional times.
KEEP IT LIGHT. Have FUN together! It may sound simple, but the pressures and challenges of the day can often make home life heavy and dull. Keep it light by laughing together when your kids say something ridiculous, go out for ice cream, turn up the radio and sing at the top of your lungs, flirt as you make dinner, try a new dog park, make a mess, buy something frivolous, go hiking, or fly a kite. Do whatever you and your spouse need to do to have fun. Keep it light, and you'll be all right for the long haul.
SMALL GROUPS. Small groups are important to marriages because they foster community and friendships. When problems hit, many couples feel alone. But if they are part of a tightly knit small group, they can share their struggles and usually will discover they are not the only ones facing hardships.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL ITS TOO LATE. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. Many people use this motto when they think about marriage, but couples who ignore their relationship until problems surface do so at their own risk. A good marriage is a proactive one. This means that romance, intimacy, and connection should be a daily consideration for both spouses. Couples should make regular, consistent efforts to foster these three important ingredients of a healthy marriage. For example, both spouses can work on saying affirming things to each other every day, can talk over the dinner table, or can engage in a long, passionate kiss before leaving for work. The danger in letting your marriage slide is that problems often start out small but fester and grow until the gap between you and your spouse has widened to serious proportions. Don't wait until it's too late; do something today to encourage romance, intimacy, and connection in your marriage.
Acts of Love Challenge
The apostle John says it’s not enough to love with lip service; we’ve got to love “with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). And this doesn’t only apply to loving your spouse, but also your neighbors and those in your community! Taking time to serve in tandem can be a great way to grow spiritually closer to each other, to God, and to the surrounding community.
As a continuation of our "Loved and Sent" and "Joining Jesus" sermon series, HCL invites you to participate in a special “Acts of Love” Challenge! Donate diapers to a family in need. Leave a bouquet of flowers at a hospital. Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen in your community. These are just a few of the ideas for Everyday Mission you will find on the "Acts of Love" Challenge postcards that will be handed out after services the weekend of February 17/18 to encourage you to spread the love of Christ in your daily life. But don't just stop there - we want to celebrate your Acts of Love, so be sure to share them with us! We hope to use your stories to encourage others to plant seeds for Jesus to continue making a difference in the world for Christ.
About the Author
Leon Jameson has been serving children, youth and families for nearly 20 years and seriously loves this calling. A certified DCE from Concordia Nebraska (‘98) and ordained pastor from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (‘12).
Leon loves to share Jesus with all ages. Leon is a founding board member of [un]Paved Ministries and speaks regularly to teenagers and adults throughout the US.
He is happiest when spending time with his wife Gretchen and role playing Kung Fu Panda with his 10-year-old daughter, Sydney Grace and eating Fruit Loops with 5-year-old Rielle Kate.
When away from ministry you can find Leon mowing his yard, running, playing fantasy football, and eating German Chocolate Cake (hands down the greatest food on the planet). Leon’s mission is to live for Jesus, leading others to do the same.