August 17, 2011

Marriage Education

We strive to become better at everything we do. In our careers we are continually adding to our knowledge base and in some cases it is required in order for us to keep up with the growth pace of our jobs. In our hobbies we are constantly adding new classes or gadgets to make ourselves better at whatever we do. I know this first hand from observing my husband, Tim, in his fishing aspirations. If I mention making a trip to San Antonio He hears “let’s go to "Bass Pro" for fishing lures”. Even though he doesn't get to fish that often he wants to be prepared with the right tools when he does get to fish.   Recently a young woman shared with me how she had spent hours watching the Food network to learn how to cook Paella. She watched video upon video and eventually solicited a welder to create a Paella pan out of plow disc because the Paella pans were over priced online. She recently hauled her steel plow disc from Colorado to Texas for a family camping trip in order to practice her Paella technique over an open fire. I wish I could have been there to experience it with her! Sounds fun! I am always amazed at how much time, energy and resources we are willing to invest in the things that we deem important. Let's not even talk about our pets and the amount of resources they consume.  As you are reading this you might have your mind on a particular area of your life that you have invested in dearly to become better. Is it decorating, cycling, running, playing a musical instrument, or maybe a loftier pursuit like Bible study, education, or career?  
I know people who are very comfortable spending hundreds of dollars and entire weekends of their lives attending seminars to learn how to be better at their jobs or hobbies. Some of us treat our pets better than we treat our spouses...serving them without complaint and eager to meet their every need no matter the cost.
What if we invested in our marriage relationship with the fervor that we invest in our careers, hobbies, and pets? Why not consider a different perspective on marriage? A marriage doesn't just evolve. We have to be intentional about building a relationship. Some view a bit of pre-marital counseling as a bother and feel that if they attend, it should be enough marriage education for the rest of their lives. I hear couples who are in conflict refer back to the one marriage class they attended the first year of their marriage as though it should have equipped them for an entire lifetime together.

One reason I think people tend to avoid marriage investments is because of the level of emotional energy it requires. Let’s face it, most of us run on empty when it comes to emotional energy. We come into our marriage relationships with so many wounds from the past that we barely have enough emotional energy to get through the wedding. Ever heard of couples fighting on their wedding night? That’s what you call starting off in bankruptcy! 
When we are not whole, relationships make us tired. We consider time away with our spouse as draining. I had one wife say that they quit attending marriage seminars because they caused them to fight and their marriage was worse afterward. In reality, the seminar probably brought to the service things that were unresolved that needed to be addressed constructively. We have to be willing to press through the difficulty of the issues to gain the intimacy that is on the other side of the conflict.

Many of us rob ourselves of the fruitfulness that marriage has to offer. I know this from experience. Unfortunately, Tim and I have experienced all the previously mentioned. We have both chosen passivity when we should have been assertive. We have both been lazy about investing in each other. We have both had times where we gave our time and energy to something other than each other in our quest for fulfillment. I have been guilty of thinking the knowledge I obtained early on in our marriage should have sufficed for many years. We were so wrong!
Just like anything else our marriages will thrive when we invest heartily in them. We have to be willing to get passed the learning curve to the joy that is there when we find oneness. Marital harmony cannot be compared to anything else this life has to offer. The fulfillment and joy of oneness is worth all the effort required to obtain it.   
Tim and I have been married for thirty one years. We have been down some rocky roads. At times I wondered if we would make it. We pressed through the hardships and are currently in a season of joy. But, I must say that Tim and I are aware of the importance of continual investment, and continual growth. We know that we must prioritize our relationship in order to stay in balance. Can you imagine what your bank account would look like if you gave out more than you took in?

Where is your marriage today? Have you been investing? Are you living in fruitfulness? Is it time to reevaluate? We have all experienced the gamut of seasons a marriage relationship has to offer. There is nothing new under the sun. No matter where you find your relationship, there is always something else to learn. Why not move toward each other. Life is too short to spend it on less than the best. It’s your move. What will you do to honor God and grow?
Tim and I will be attending The Art of Marriage Seminar for the third time on September 9-10 at the Tom Green County Library’s Sugg Community Room. Yes, I said third time! It is that good! We invite you to attend with us!!!! You can register at Winning Families.