Today you get to hear from a great friend of mine – Preston Hagaman. In this post, Preston shares 5 things he and his wife are working on in 2017 to grow their marriage. See below for more about Preston and Hannah.
We’d traveled hundreds of miles and slept in strange beds often over the holidays, but as the New Year dawned we were in Waco, TX. Hannah and I headed out the door in search of something to eat, and soon found ourselves pulling into the IHOP parking lot. We sat at a table near the kitchen, ordered pancakes, and the all-too-important coffee. We sat sipping on coffee from our small cafe’ mugs, as conversation bounced from one topic to the next, coming to rest on what we both wanted out of the New Year.
Hannah and I both had goals and dreams for what we wanted to do in 2017. Some of them were individual goals, like learning to shoot a bow, but most were things we wanted to work on and accomplish as a couple. Beyond the generic goals of making more money or getting in shape, we focused on how we could better our marriage. As we sat gulping down caffeine and sugar like they would stop selling it tomorrow, we narrowed down five ways we could improve our marriage.
1. Pray Daily
Everyone who gave us premarital advice said, “Pray with your wife every day.” I thought that was going to be the easiest and most natural aspect of our relationship. But for some reason I’m not entirely sure of, it’s not. Too often we don’t pray together before our heads hit the pillow. I fail to initiate, despite knowing it’s something we both desire and would say is one of the most important aspects of our life together. That has to change in 2017. I want to pray with my wife every night this year.
We’re in the middle of a 30-day challenge. Every time we pray together, we put an X on a tracking sheet. We haven’t missed a day since starting the challenge. Hopefully this will continue and help us develop this all too important habit.
2. Date Weekly.
Hannah and I made date night a priority early in our marriage. We talked about what each of us meant by “date night” as we went through Merge and agreed that it should be a weekly thing, regardless of how much we had going on. We were consistent in the first few years of our marriage, but in the last year or so, I’ve dropped the ball. Date nights have now become scattered and irregular as we go through seasons of busyness. It would be easy to say that life was busy with our first kid on the way and running a small business, but that’s not what keeps us from going on dates. My laziness does. I fail to plan and prioritize intentionally pursuing Hannah. I allow business and busyness to crowd out the very thing we need to maintain a healthy marriage in the midst of it all.
To begin tackling this issue, we’re taking a page from the Scott Kedersha book and getting creative. Each week we trade turns pulling a pre-planned date from a stack of envelopes and put it on the calendar. It’s the perfect blend of planning and spontaneity.
3. Live Generously.
We rejoice each month as we see money leave our account bound for Watermark’s, knowing they will steward it well. They have proven faithful over many years, and we want others to say the same about us. Giving to our local church body is great, but we desire to do more. We want to intentionally seek out people in our life to act generously towards—not just with money, but with our time, talents and home.
We’re going to open our home this year. We’re going to invite friends, new and old alike, over for dinner and spend time getting to know them. We’ll ask them questions about their life, the things going well, and the areas they’re struggling. We’ll give away photography sessions and look for ways to encourage and support those around us. It’s going to be a busy year, but if we don’t make time for generosity, it’ll be wasted.
4. Serve Together.
Over the last several years, Hannah and I have served in Watermark’s premarital ministry, Merge. You’ve most likely seen this great class mentioned here before. We love being a part of this ministry and seeing how the Lord uses it to change couples by helping them process their relationship. It has a significant impact on our marriage as well. Like going to the doctor for a regular checkup, Merge has helped us play good offense.
We want to step up in an even bigger way in 2017 by continuing to grow as leaders. We’ll be reading new books, seeking out opportunities to grow in our walks with Christ, and working on building a marriage other young couples can look at and say, “I want our marriage to be that much fun.”
5. Keep Marriage Our #2 Priority
Our first child will soon be born, and we’re expecting him to change everything. He’s already changing our lives, and he’s not even born. I can only imagine how that will continue once he arrives. If we aren’t diligent, we’ll become obsessed with our little one. We have to remain connected to Christ and each other first so that we can love our son well.
That means scheduling time in our days to spend time in God’s word and prayer, as well as making time for just the two of us to connect. We aren’t sure what anything will look like once our son arrives, but we’re already discussing how we can safeguard our marriage.
2017 will be a big year in the Hagaman home. Hopefully, growth in these five areas will be among the many changes it brings. We’ll miss the mark on some things and drop the ball on others. But, littered in among the failures, we hope to see a few shining examples of getting it right. Perfection isn’t within our grasp, but the intentional pursuit of better is. We may not have 100% control over outcomes, but we can do our part.
How will you grow your marriage in 2017?
Preston lives in the Dallas area with his wife Hannah, and two golden retrievers. They are expecting their first child this spring and couldn’t be more excited. Preston is a photographer with Cottonwood Road Photography, where he and his wife capture couple’s biggest moments. You can read Preston’s blog here.
The Hagaman photo cred goes to the great Katie June Ruppel! You can find out more about Katie here.