Yes, I just used the term “invest” when it comes to your marriage. Like anything worth doing, you invest your emotions, your time, and your finances.
I am fresh off a couple’s vacation with my husband. We have been together for 20 years, and married for 17 this summer. We have faced many of the most difficult circumstances a marriage can face:
- A long-distance relationship
- Moving away from friends and family
- Job loss and financial strain
- Moving across the county
- Building a home together
- Having a child born with special needs
- Emotional strains
- Miscarriage and infertility
- …and a few seven-year itches
Some of these are common situations couples face. We upped the ante when we had a child born with special needs – the divorce rate there is over 80% (due to the extreme emotional and financial burden these families face).
We have friends who have divorced due to the following scenarios:
- Not ready for a family at the same time
- Pre-marital counseling clearly failed them here by not addressing timing along with desire for children
- Disagreements over building a home
- Seriously. Cabinets and flooring disagreements did them in.
- Even that celebrity “free pass” did one couple in
- Loss of a child
- Parenting a child with special needs
- A few after over twenty years of marriage because they just become roommates, focused only on the child
- Financial strain due to job loss
- Children put first above the marriage
- They didn’t make their marriage a priority over child-rearing and grew apart.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. My husband and I chose to wait to have children until we were both out of school and not working three jobs each. We wanted some time to make sure we were on a solid foundation. After all, when the children grow up and leave the home, it’s “just us” again. This doesn’t mean those whose journey looks different won’t make it. I just wanted to share that we have been INTENTIONAL when it comes to making our marriage a priority.
You have to invest time in anything you want to be successful, right? Your marriage is no different. Our life is hard. We have a child that requires extraordinary amounts of emotion, finances and time to ensure his needs are taken care of. We have an adopted toddler about to turn two that requires a lot of personal attention. Our jobs can be incredibly demanding. Making time for each other is tough. So we have to be strategic, and make a plan to spend time together. Time alone.
This investment in our marriage is still paying off. We are best friends. We are happy. We are fulfilled. None of this happened by accident. We are intentional about working on our relationship.
What this investment looks like will vary by couple. For us, it’s a few date nights a year, an overnight or two quick get away every year or two, and a commitment to an extended couple’s vacation a minimum of every 5 years. It’s also family time at the dinner table, talking through our day/week, it’s texting a note during the day if we can, it’s time alone snuggling at the end of the day before bedtime, and it’s time alone or apart spent praying for each other. We aren’t perfect, and we could do a lot of things better, but we are trying – and that’s really the point.
I ask you to evaluate your choices. If you have a chance to attend an event to grow as a couple, but must choose between that and attending your 4-year-old’s 22nd soccer game – consider the consequences and potential gain if you show your children that your marriage is a priority.
Plus, I admit it is fun to travel with your spouse without the responsibilities of your kids. It’s fun to feel what it’s like to hold his hand in public and not rush home to the babysitter and the laundry and dishes. So raise your right hand and repeat after me…
“I will be INTENTIONAL about investing in my marriage. I commit to date nights, getaways and vacations together.”
Didn’t that feel good? Life is short. Life is hard. Enjoy the pieces of it you can with the one you love. It will be worth it.