Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One of The Best Habits We Ever Put In Our Marriage

Most couples over time develop certain habits whether they like it or not. Some are helpful and enriching to their marriage, others annoying and some even destructive. Often most of their habits aren't even planned, they just happen.

Jackie and I have had our share in the above lists but there is one that I am thankful we were very intentional about from the very beginning of our marriage until today. No, we've not done it perfectly and there have been periods where it pretty much vanished for a time but its importance and pull have always brought us back to it.

I am confident that it has enhanced our communication, intimacy, planning for the future and ability to simply rest and enjoy some Sabbath in our busy weeks.

Our habit? We've made extended, focused time for each other. We have committed to a day, morning, evening or a combination where we put aside our regular schedule, plan something fun, go out to eat perhaps along the way and explore new places together. We usually have some sort of goal but the time is not typically programmed and we can always change things up last minute.

Sometimes the weather alters our course or we're just too tired. That's okay. We have enough margin during that time to not get flustered because our original plan didn't work out. We don't always go somewhere either. Sometimes we stay home, read, relax and watch movies or television that we didn't get to see earlier.

We try not to let other outside influences steal our time away either. We limit phone calls (I'm a pastor so sometimes there are emergencies), online efforts, housework and errands. We try to make sure we have time to talk, leaving room for heavier issues but not limiting ourselves to that. We laugh a lot and talk about non-work, non-people things rather than ministry.

And there is something about having a day that we know is out there waiting for us that makes challenging times a bit more tolerable.  We know that a reprieve is coming so we can take a little more pressure for a time if need be. And even if our getaway time gets robbed because of events we can't control it is so ingrained in us we gravitate to it immediately the next week.

I fear that many, if not most couples, in this 21st century, have relegated time for each other to we'll-do-that-when-we-get-time or once-the-kids-are-grown or some other fantasy-laden hope that will never happen. It's not that you can't afford to take time for each other. You can't afford NOT to have it. You'll have to make it happen even if it means letting go of something else.

Marriages don't deteriorate for no reason. They fail because we don't give them time, priority and intentionality. So don't wait!  Start somewhere. Maybe you can't give a whole day yet. Then find a couple of hours or a morning for starters.  But write it on your calendar.  Let you kids know you are working more at being together. You'll be modeling something for them to take into their marriage.

I'm pretty sure it will be a habit you're glad you started.  Try it.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When Selfish Isn't Sinful

Anna is a mom of two normal, healthy, fun-loving, busy kids. She and her husband Al do quite well at sharing the responsibilities of providing, taxiing, feeding and who knows what else that children and family need every day.

But the end of each day arrives and they usually have just enough energy to plop in front of the television for thirty minutes and even then one of them is usually nodding off before the program ends. They look forward to weekends but there are games, church and special events to attend and participate in that seem to never end.

They both long for some time together, even a little alone time when their tanks aren't empty. They know that parenting and marriage both require sacrifice and often feel guilty for wanting more. Their parents sacrificed for them. Shouldn't they do the same for their kids? They know that someday when the kids are older they'll be able to focus on each other and maybe even start a new job or hobby that just has to wait for now.

Sound like you? Struggle with the same feelings? Wondering when you're going to get a break? Is being a little selfish, getting some time for yourself or your marriage always in your mind selfish and about ME?

I don't think so. And apparently Jesus didn't either. He took time to be alone, to walk, to rest his physical body (of course He was God otherwise).  He wasn't always with people, there for everyone and meeting needs 24/7.

There are some reasons why we too need to follow His example.

First, if we have little in our tank emotionally then we'll have little left for others. We'll get angry more, skim on the most important things and not give our kids and spouses our best.

Second, we'll be more likely to do something we would never do otherwise. We'll blow up at a coworker, have an affair, emotional or otherwise, or make a stupid decision. We're hurting, empty and longing for a little relief and sometimes we'll do anything for a cup of cold water in the desert.

Third, we need to be reminded of our limits. No one can be there for everyone. There is only so much time in our day, so many emotions in our reserve, so much energy in these bodies we have.

So what do we do?

Accept that you are not being selfish when you add rest and refreshing to your life, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Second, incorporate some you time into your day. It may start with only a few minutes but start somewhere. Try a walk, find time to think, read, meditate, pray, just unwind. If you're married include some regular time with your spouse. Require your kids to give you that time if they are old enough (and most are if you work at it with them).

Third, make slowing down more of a priority in your family. No, we don't need to do all the things everyone else is doing. No, we don't need to be in all the clubs, sports and special programs that the neighborhood crowd has embraced. There are more important things. Focus on those.

When you start re-filling your reservoir you'll discover you actually have more to give and enjoy. And by the way, that's how God intended us to live in the first place.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.