“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13, NASB
This Valentine’s will be the first my husband and I have ever officially celebrated—and by officially, I mean purposefully going out on a date to mark the occasion. But that’s not even the most exciting part of this story. In six years, we have taken two vacations: one to get married and one to have a mini-weekend excursion at a B&B, still in the great state of Texas, of course! That short getaway was in July 2011 and our first-born made his sweet debut in April 2012. So, in the nearly four years since having children, we have spent one night apart from them. Ever. And that was when I gave birth to our second. While wonderful, I wouldn’t exactly call that a time to build romance and relax.
It would be easy to think we are the only couple in this “rarely alone together” boat, especially if I were to give a lot of weight to what I see on social media. Fortunately, in the rare moments I’ve felt a pity party coming on, God has given me a swift little kick and reminded me not to compare or make assumptions based on what I see from the outside looking in. You never know if the smiles on people’s faces are genuine joy or expert acting. And, simply because some may have a bigger village to help in the child-raising years, it doesn’t mean their times away with their spouses are purposefully focused on the art of deeply dating one other. If you start thinking the grass is greener on the other side, remember to purposefully water your own yard first.
“Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” ~Ephesians 5:33, NASB
So—what if you do not have the ability to take a vacation or even have one night away? First, remember your spouse is your God-given partner, and with Christ at the center, you are blessed beyond measure. There is never a reason to neglect investing in the individual you promised to love, honor, and cherish—your relationship with your spouse deserves a permanent reservation on your calendar. If you are tired, broke, or just not able to clearly think outside the box these days, here are a few small ideas you can implement right now to pave the way for an even better marriage tomorrow.
*Be spontaneous! You and your spouse each write 5-10 things you like to do on popsicle sticks. When you are looking for something to do, pull one of the popsicle sticks out and go where the wind (or stick) takes you.
*Keep a blessing jar. Get a mason jar, put it somewhere visible, and leave little notes encouraging your spouse (and yourself)—share what he means to you or how grateful you are for her. In those less than stellar marital moments, pull out those slips of paper, read them, and remind each other of all the beautiful parts of your marriage.
*Think Free! Having fun and making memories do not need to break the bank. Puzzles, picnics in the park, and painting on your porch are all fun (and FREE!) things you can do together. The point is to engage in conversation doing things outside of your normal routine.
*Wine and Dine. Make a meal together (after the kids are in bed), light some candles, and have your own “fine-dining” experience in the comfort of your home. If you have wedding china, use it! If you don’t, I find paper plates hold the food just as well, and clean-up is much easier.
*Dance the Night Away. If you’re like us, you’re tired, and dancing the night away isn’t really in the cards. But, you can play your wedding song to dance to again; you can even pull out those pictures and talk about what brought you together, how far you have come, and daydream about your future together.
Valentine’s Day is just another day on the calendar, so even if you choose not to do anything to mark this particular occasion, there is good news: you have 364 more days in the year to passionately pursue your spouse. In the Bible, Paul says that those who marry will face many troubles in this life. It is to be expected—but it doesn’t mean you surrender in defeat. Regardless of what is going on in life or marriage, put your partner before your kids, your housework, and your hobbies. Show your children what marriage means, that it matters to God and therefore matters to you. Remember: more is caught than taught. The things you implement now are likely to be repeated by your children later. Help them build a firm foundation for their own marriage when that day comes.
In His Great Love,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first daughter in March 2016. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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