Yesterday was marriage and family day. One of the joys of being a Methodist Pastor is mentoring the next generation of kids who want to grow up and be Methodist Pastors. We’re called Clergy Mentors, and we walk through the process, really a thick book for the student (or mentee) to work through, and ask the mentor, questions. Yesterday was marriage and family day.
If you know me well, then you know I’m a process guy. I like to figure out how the system works, and the develop a process to guide or inform that system.
Ordering One’s Life:
God, Family and Everything Else – by everything else I mean your job, truck, boat, soccer league, church (yes church), and anything else that isn’t family or the divine. This is the life God blesses, its not an excuse to not get things done in the everything else category, for the sake of family or God, but to order or set your priorities so that your life can be ordered this way. This is the life God blesses, change the ordering…and you’re on your own.
Then Do These Things:
1) Find a hobby, shared experience, or something you can do with your spouse on a regular basis. For my parents it was playing golf. I don’t care for golf much, but my parents did. They were not crazy for it, but did enjoy 9 holes every few days at the country club in my home town. Even as a high schooler, I remember how different they were when they came home from playing, I could see that they loved each other, and I’ve attributed that to this shared activity that they both loved and did together.
2) Develop a mutual admiration for how the other spends their days. Admire the work that they do, take pride in how well they do it, brag on what your spouse is doing.
3) Eat dinner together around a table with no distractions. I used to say with the TV off, but these days the bigger problem is the internet, or txting. It isn’t such a problem for Suzanne and I, but this next generation is going to have to figure out how to disconnect and be fully present. The thing about eating a home cooked meal around the table is that family talk and tell stories, and interact in ways that life does not encourage.
In premarital counseling I would run down this list, and then ask the couple if they would be willing to spend one hour doing this one thing that would virtually guarantee that they would be happily married the rest of their life. It would take an hour a week. They would both smile at each other and say yes, and then I’d ask, do you know what that one thing might be, and then to the husband-to-be, its not what you’re thinking.
4) Be active in a faith community, and it doesn’t matter what kind. By active I mean commit to going together to at least three out of four gatherings of that community’s worship service.
So these are the things I discussed with my mentee, and by way of review, with those who want to stay happily married.