How Not To Miss Out On The Best Parts Of Your Marriage
By: Ted Harro
Your Marriage Timeline
Just like your life is a line, so is your marriage. This is your marriage timeline.
You met your spouse. Acquaintance turned into something more. You probably got engaged and at some point, you got married.
Someday, your marriage will end. As morbid as it sounds, I think we all hope our marriages will end in death rather than the marital death that is divorce. Since I can’t bear to think of life without Gretchen but I feel kind of lousy for leaving her alone by going first, I’m hoping that we go out in a blaze of glory driving down the highway in a convertible in our 90s. But I doubt it will happen that way.
In between your wedding and the end of your marriage, you have good days and bad days and a lot of just plain old days. Or as Bono said in one of his songs, “Those long descriptive passages where we don’t know what to say.”
I remember the day in May, 2016 when Gretchen and I passed 10,000 days of marriage. In that many days, you’re going to have plenty of ordinary times. Or at least times that seem ordinary in the moment.
God Invites Us To Notice
One of God’s great invitations to every married person is to pay attention to what He’s doing in us through all of those times in our marriages. To be awake. To notice. There is transformational treasure available to us almost every day.
And yet, most of us – most of the time – are asleep to those days. The days click by and we completely miss the treasure.
So before we get into the details of how God uses both good and bad times in marriage to help us become the kind of people who are at home in heaven, maybe we should start by learning a practice to help us notice.
This practice is pretty easy and has been used for centuries. Its historic name is the Daily Examen. We call it the With-God Replay. As Father Michael has shown us, there are many flavors of the examen. Here’s how you can use a With-God Replay to notice what’s going on in you through your marriage:
- Start by taking a minute to slow down. I find closing my eyes and taking about 5-10 deep breaths really helpful. Unless I’m driving. Then I keep my eyes open.
- Next, reconnect with God. It’s not unusual for me to forget God even exists over the course of any day. I’m not proud of that, but it’s true. There are a number of ways I reconnect with God. One is to imagine the Father, Son, and Spirit at a table sharing a wonderful meal. Then I notice that there’s an empty seat at the table, and that they are beckoning me to join them. I accept their invitation and sit down. I accept their warm hospitality.
- Next, thank God for the goodness of your marriage. No matter how connected or disconnected you feel in your marriage right now, there’s some gift you’ve received from it over the years. Thank God.
- Next, ask God to review your last 24 hours of marriage with you. Watch the replay of the day like a movie on fast forward. Ask God to slow down the video when there’s something He wants you to notice. It could be something positive or challenging.
- When the video slows down, ask God to help you notice what happened in those moments. What internal reactions do you notice? (Caution: These may be *feelings*!) What external reactions do you notice in yourself and/or your spouse?
- Ask God what He wants you to do with what you’ve noticed. That could be celebrating what He has done in you as shown by your reactions. Or it could be a gentle challenge.
- Thank God for helping you be awake to your life. Entrust this next day of life and marriage to Him.
Try that practice for a 7-day streak. If you’re comfortable, share what you’ve noticed with your spouse or a trusted friend. Pretty soon, you’ll be noticing what each day of your marriage brings, whether it’s the first or the 10,000th!