Kelly Kapowski. My first love. The first girl I ever truly wanted to marry. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Turns out she’s not real.
I did however learn alot about relationships from these two. Being a kid from the 90’s, Zack and Kelly was my Ross & Rachel, Cory & Topanga, Carrie & Mr. Big, Jim & Pam, and Kevin & Winnie all rolled into one. I thought they were it and wanted my relationship to be just like theirs. So this blond haired high schooler found himself a brunette cheerleader and they lived happily ever after.
…except that’s not quite true. Marriage, it turns out, isn’t as easy as putting one and one together.
But I’m not going to tell you how hard it can be. You already know. And I’m not going to give you failure statistics. You know that too. I’m not even going to give you a list of “don’ts” because you’ve seen all those. And I’ve far too often seen marriage compared to war. Heard about the battle. Seen remarks about dominance over women and the emasculation of husbands. That’s all crap.
What I want to do is allow you to see again just how awesome marriage is! Because the goal isn’t to not get divorced. If that’s as high as your aspirations go, good luck. Maybe you should just test your loyalty with your favorite brand of toothpaste. The goal is to grow together, have lots and lots of mind blowing sex, laugh really often, and while all this is going on, cheer each other on toward love and good deeds.
So a good marriage takes action. And I want us to start thinking of our marriages, not as a thing that needs constant care and attention, but as a daily adventure that you get to experience. That we don’t think loving, we act loving. We don’t care for them, we give care. There’s a big difference. So often love is internalized. But marriage isn’t lived out in your head. It’s lived out in the world.
The other week, I watched a documentary on slavery and the Civil War. And when it was over, I was swept with this overwhelming guilt that even though I am so blessed, I’m not nearly as thankful as I should be. So I decided the next day I would fast. And during that time, I’d pray and make a list of all the things I was thankful for. So I started making the list and the first 25 things I wrote were all about my wife. And what struck me wasn’t the fact that she was so prominent on my list. What struck me was how clueless she would probably be that I would write those things down. I doubted that she even knew how much her character and her care mean to me.
I typically make an assumption that Megan knows what I love about her because the things she does are worthy of love and gratitude. Like it doesn’t need to be spoken. So I make assumptions based on assumptions and expect that to see me through an exceptional marriage. But the truth is, we spouses can go for weeks wondering why we’re loved at all. And even though we may not admit and we definitely wouldn’t say it, we’re dying to hear from our other what it is they love about us. We want that care and that affirmation. So give that away. Share that. We don’t need to hold it close to our vest. We need to lay all that out on the table.
The cool thing is that this creates a deeper bond in both people. For them, it reassures them and gives them security and positive feedback. For us, it reminds us of all the little things we take for granted. Pastor Brian asked the question once: What if God only gave you tomorrow what you thanked Him for today? Think about your marriage with that regard. So make a list. What is it you love so much about your husband/wife? Got a list? Tell them! Write a letter. Give a passionate monologue. Send daily texts. Take gratitude one step further and express it!
Every single day, we slowly fall more in love with some things, while we fall away from others.
This isn’t rocket science, it’s just life. But it’s still a profound statement. Every single day, we slowly fall more in love with some things, while we fall away from others. I used to love Kelly Kapowski. I used to love baseball cards. I used to love playing video games. I used to love pizza. I used to love being single. I used to love a whole lot of things. But as I grew, I fell away from those in favor of falling more in love with other things. I turned my attention away from them and onto others. Now I love reading. I love steak and sushi. I love watching documentaries. I love my kids. And these may be simple and silly things, but think about life. That emotional attachment to a coworker didn’t just spring up overnight. It developed. You grew closer to that and further from your spouse. That getaway used to be a hobby, now it’s an excuse to be away from the family. It was slow and it was intentional.
You decide what you’re falling more in love with and what you’re falling away from. So…
Have lots of sex. Husbands, you’re welcome. But do it! Alot! Tired? Drink a Red Bull. Stomach hurting? Stop eating nachos and ice cream before bed. I don’t care what you need to do. Take care of it and… well… take care of it. Because lets be real, we men are different people when our wife takes care of us. We hold our heads higher and our eyes stay focused. You ladies even look different when you’re well loved and confident you’re treasured. So have fun. Let your freak flag fly.
Date each other. Get away from your kids. Shirk responsibilities. Act like teenagers. I’ve heard it said that marriage is falling in love over and over again with the same person. We people change as we grow older. None of us are the same person we were ten years ago. None of us will be the same ten years from now. As couples, our relationship needs to grow in the same way the individual does. And it can only happen when we intentionally make it happen. So whether it’s sandwiches in a park or drinks in the city, date. As often as possible. And even when it’s not. One night on a winter retreat with the teens, Megan and I met in the hotel lobby for a 30 minute date over vending machine snacks at 1am. It wasn’t much, but it ended up being one of our favorite memories from the trip.
Flirt, joke, hold hands, tease, act dumb, tickle, kiss in public, woo. These were all things you loved doing at the beginning. These were all the things that led to the two of you falling in love. Let them also be what sustains you. And don’t make excuses. You’re either falling more in love or falling away. It’s your call.
What’s crazy to me is how little couples work together. They’re involved in the most intimate relationship present on Earth, but they really just run into each other at morning and at night. Life happens, they react, and get by. Life happens again, they react again, and get by again. But living the same 100 years over and over isn’t life. Life is dreaming and creating and building. It’s growing something that in turn grows you. And when we dream and build with our spouse, we unlock potential that’s long been dormant. So begin working together in these couple ways…
Volunteer: Be a part of something bigger than the both of you. Impact the world as a team. I love that Megan volunteers in the youth ministry. And getting to see her in action is amazing! I get to see her laugh and goof off, building relationships with the teen girls. I get to see her heart when she’s crying late at night, while texting girls who are going through tough circumstances. I get to see her care and attention pay off when a girl lays her head on Megan’s shoulder while she’s worshiping at church. Seeing her do these things fills me with awe. She’s amazing! And on top of that, we get to introduce teens to Christ. We get to work together on how we want to influence the schools for Christ. But it doesn’t have to be that. Maybe you want to build homes for Habitat for Humanity or work in a soup kitchen or tutor at schools. Whatever it is, influence the world and stand in awe of the amazing person God made in your spouse
Experience Life: Find a hobby and do new things together. Stretch yourself and discover new passions. Being a part of each other’s growing is so gratifying! Take a cooking class, go hiking, join her knitting group (seriously!). Be a part of each other’s happy place. Recharge together. Because lets be real, you and your other don’t have enough fun together.
Cheer on Growth: It’s easy to get lazy and become stagnant. And I told the youth group this last Wednesday and I become more and more certain of it: that maybe God didn’t give us marriage just to be happy. Maybe he gave us marriage to be holy. Several years ago, I was stuck in a bad place. And one night, Megan had enough. She called me out with tears in her eyes and accused me of being a bad leader. Not that I was leading poorly, but I wasn’t leading at all. And I had to sit there and eat it, because she was exactly right. But Megan wasn’t nagging at all. She was fighting for the family. Her voice woke me up. Years later, Megan felt led to start a women’s Bible study. She was scared and unsure of herself. I challenged her and helped her and she got to see 40 or so women walk closer with Christ. My voice gave her courage. Paul says in 1st Corinthians (One Corinthians, if you’re a Trump supporter) Chapter 7, verse 2 “…since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” And here, he’s talking directly about immorality that leads to adulterous sin. He said it’s better to marry than to burn with lust. But I wonder if even Paul realized how profound this statement is. Because Megan’s voice in my life has led me to be a better man than I ever would have been on my own. This world has so many things to turn our attention to, but we get to navigate it together. We have to be speak with love and we have to be open to guidance. But how awesome is it to grow closer to Christ with our spouse!
Be a Team: Andy Stanley says it better than I ever could, so watch this…
So marriage is awesome! Make yours more awesome! All it takes is a little intention and a whole lot of action. Take that to mean whatever you want.
I love you guys and I’m cheering for you! Make sure your spouse reads this too and talk about how you want be an even better couple. Because you guys aren’t just going to make it, you’re going to love it!