Happy New Year, Happy Marriage
Going into the new year, I spent a good deal of time in prayer trying to get a sharper view of what I wanted this upcoming year to look like. Like you, I want it to be a “Happy New Year”, a year of promise and joy. Moving forward often requires looking back. What I found was that the health and happiness of my marriage was key to the same in all other areas of my life.
My spiritual life ebbs and flows along with my marriage. My relationship with my children (and other friends) is strengthened by my relationship with Jon. We have a business together and being on the same page in it is often dependent upon us being on the same page in general. All the things I want to see thrive are all more easily achieved through a thriving marriage. So it just makes sense to pay attention to my marriage as we move into the new year.
In considering this, I realized there are two things that are a consistent need in our marriage. They never change, and when I do them, they work to grow my marriage and my happiness.
The 2 Things To Do For My Marriage This Year:
1—Manage my expectations.
I talk with married women, young and old, all the time and if there’s one thing that becomes crystal clear, it’s that we all expect a lot from our men. 27 years of marriage for me, and I still struggle to manage my expectations! But my expectations hold my husband back and keep him from being free to grow and free to fail. Rather than releasing him to find his own way, I hold him captive to my picture of what he should look like, what he should do, and how to make it happen. And I’m a perfectionist! So, there’s not a lot of wiggle room here and he knows it.
When our husbands are free from our image of who they should be, they can more easily move into God’s image, and it is far better.
This requires a bit of humility on our part, a good dose of patience, and a whole lot of trust. With a humble heart, we need to recognize that we have enough to fix in ourselves without spending so much time fixing him. We have patience in waiting for him to draw his own conclusions and choose for himself his own course. And we trust that God wants to “fix” him more than we do, and He knows the best timing and the best way. And remember, God also wants to “fix” us and sometimes he uses the brokenness and the weakness of our husbands to do it.
2—Romance my man.
There’s no greater motivator or de-motivator than this. Paying attention to our romance and to our sex life binds Jon and I together when all else is falling apart. Because sex is so tied to intimacy, we ladies can be tempted to tie our responsiveness in the bedroom to our husband’s level of performance outside it—based on our own expectations of course ;). It is crucial not to do this.
Just as intimacy is the gateway to sex for most women, sex is the gateway to intimacy for most men. When we pay attention to this most basic truth, we keep the doors of trust open and we are more likely to have a husband who wants to meet our needs.
I love the way Proverbs 31:11 (NKJV) says it, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her.” Nowhere is it harder for a man to trust his wife than in the area of sex. When we use sex as a bargaining chip, we may get what we want, but it is a temporary win. We erode our husband’s trust in us and we tear him down in ways that are often irreversible.
I have found that when romance and sex gets my attention no matter what, it communicates on a level that words can’t. It speaks to the deepest part of Jon that I may not like how he spoke to me or that he ignored my request to do something, but that I love him and will always give myself to him irregardless of his ability to meet my expectations. For a bit of help prioritizing this area, please read Putting Sex In Its Place.
It’s easy to take our marriages for granted, especially when we’ve weathered some rough storms intact. I’ve come to see Jon as that rock that will always be there. Sometimes as a safe place to rest, sometimes as something I bump into and get irritated. But always, he is there. And because of that, I can place him on the sidelines with the intention of “getting to that later” as other more urgent matters grab my attention and energy.
This year, I’m being more intentional to pay attention. More intentional to release him from my expectations and to keep our love a priority. I’m expecting great things.
How about you? What can you do to have a happy marriage this year?