Today’s Guest Post comes from my friend Ted Lowe. Ted is a speaker, a blogger, and the director of MarriedPeople, the marriage division at The reThink Group (also known as Orange), a non-profit organization devoted to influencing those who influence the next generation.
He also happens to be one of the funniest people I know!
When it comes to marriage, you would be hard pressed to find someone more optimistic than me. But recently, I’ve come to a hard realization that may be robbing my optimism, but is also strengthening my resolve to help couples focus on their marriage WAY before they enter into crisis mode.
I’ve worked with married couples since 2001. Again, my heart and life is to help couples be proactive. But most of the people who contact me directly, do so because they are on the verge of divorce. As soon as they start talking, my heart and head start internally praying, “Oh God, please give me the words to help save this marriage.”
Now, here’s the hard realization I mentioned earlier: For some married couples, they seek help “too late.” One or both of them have been delivering relational blows for so long, that it has fatally wounded their marriage. What starts off as frustration, evolves into hurtful words and behavior that evolves into hatred and eventually into something worse, complete and utter apathy.
The hurtful behavior can range from working too much to infidelity to simply being unavailable emotionally. I equate this to someone who neglects and abuses their body and, as a result, contracts a fatal, incurable disease. Does God still love them? Absolutely. Is it too late to save them? For many, they believe yes. While I will always do everything possible to help a couple in crisis, the sad truth is that some are simply not going to make it.
Here’s the sadder yet hopeful truth all wrapped into one: For most couples, it doesn’t have to end like this. If they had focused on keeping their marriage healthy, before it got sick, they wouldn’t find themselves in so much pain. But most of us weren’t taught how to focus on our marriage.
Below I suggest three ways to protect our marriages from fatal blows, three things that EVERY couple needs to do. Of course, there are more than three, and there may even be three better ones. But, I know for a fact that these three are great for all married couples.
1) Be kind.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
When things start getting hectic and hurtful for couples, they start thinking that their problems are complicated. Therefore, they believe the solutions to their problems are complicated. But oftentimes, all is required is kindness. In fact, my friend and marriage expert, Dr. Jeff Fray said to me, “We have convinced a generation that a bunch of Ph.Ds., like me, have the answers to marriage, and the average Joe and Sue have to somehow extract those answers from us. But here’s what I’m finding, couples are simply forgetting the basics, like being kind.”
Don’t underestimate what kindness can do. Be kind by helping them with chores. Be kind by running errands you know they would rather not. Be kind, when they speak a harsh word to you, be kind and let it go. When they look tired, be kind and hug them without speaking a word. Kindness protects us from the fatal blows.
2) Be available.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 41-42
We are obviously surrounded with the stimuli of other people and other things. Doug Fields in his book, 7 Ways To Be Her Hero, suggests that when our spouse speaks to us, we need to hit the pause button. Sometimes that is the actual pause button on the TV remote. Other times, it is the mental pause button where we stop what we are doing and focus on them. The next time your spouse calls you or speaks to you, mentally pause everything else to be available.
3) Be fun.
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. Ecclesiastes 9:9
Life can make us SO serious. We have serious responsibilities: jobs, mortgages, kids. We can have serious concerns: aging parents, health issues, and again, kids. It’s no wonder we get so serious. But we need to choose joy, we need to choose to laugh. We need to choose a fun tone in our relationship.
One thing that keeps the laugher alive is dating. Make sure you date. We date once a week, on Friday mornings. This time is great for us to connect, but also laugh and have fun. In fact, I make a point to be a little extra silly during our date time, but also during the week. We also take boot camp classes together. I make a point to steal moments and make faces at her to demonstrate how brutal the exercises are. Culture paints marriage as the old ball and chain. We get to choose something different, we get to choose to be fun.
Be kind. Be available. Be fun. It’s not rocket science, and that’s the beauty of it. It simply protects your marriages from fatal blows.
- What can you do today to Be Kind to your spouse? To Be Available? To Be Fun?
- What practical ideas do you have when it comes to being kind, available, and fun?
Ted lives in Cumming, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children. After serving as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, Ted joined the Orange team to create MarriedPeople. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, in Pasadena, California and is the co-author of Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages that Last. For more information about Ted and MarriedPeople, visit MarriedPeople.org or join him on Facebook or Twitter @tedlowe.