Wow! It happened again.
A day turned into a week, then a week turned into a month … and suddenly a year has passed. I’m staring at another birthday and wondering, What have we accomplished in the last year?
One of my husband’s favorite phrases lately is “the illusion of permanence.” The passing of another year has me ruminating on this phrase as it relates to marriage. Couples trudge through every day, working hard at living life, and they don’t realize that time is slipping away. When couples forget to take the time to talk with each other, connect, and pursue a loving relationship, their marriage suffers.
If you suffer from the “the illusion of permanence,” let me share with you two intentional actions my husband and I attempt to practice on a regular basis to stay connected.
Chat time. We utilize a tool from FamilyLife and we find it … well, brilliant! We attempt (yes, some days we fail) to sit together for a few minutes each night and read the daily devotion in Moments With You, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. We are amazed at how these simple few minutes allow us to connect and enter into some thought-provoking conversation. In addition, the devotional challenges us to be very intentional about how we live our lives. After our discussion we make notes on the page of the devotion in an effort to preserve our thoughts and keep us accountable on our plans for the future.
One interesting outcome of “chat time” is that our children notice. They actually get a kick out of seeing us in what they call our “deep mushy discussion”!
Date night. We have always been very involved with our children and enjoy family dinners together most nights. However, several years ago we recognized that we also needed some time for adult conversation, but we really didn’t want to always eat out for dinner. Hubby came up with the brilliant idea that on Fridays we would have date night right at home. He is in charge of dinner and is not even allowed to ask me what I want. (It’s all about me not having to figure it out!) Most of the time he picks up take-out from somewhere—sometimes it’s fancy, sometimes it’s simple. We truly value this time to be together and enjoy uninterrupted conversation.
I make sure the children have a movie to watch and frozen pizza to eat. When they were younger they’d peek into the room and giggle and ask if we were being “all kissy and stuff.” To this day, when they hear “date night,” they grin and look forward to their own couple of hours of fun without us in their space!
While we don’t have the “illusion of permanence” in our relationship completely under control, we at least know it exists and have found ways to stay connected. A great bonus is that our children see us connecting and are learning firsthand that married couples need to work at marriage and make time for each other. They get it … and that’s cool!
How about you? What do you and your spouse do on a regular basis to stay connected?
This article originally appeared in the July 21, 2008 issue of Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter. To subscribe free to Marriage Memo and other FamilyLife e-newsletters, click here. For the Marriage Memo archives, click here.