Marriage is a Walk in The Park
Marriage is a walk in the park… literally.
Two people, side by side, walking the path laid out before them putting one step in front of another on the long and windy trail to get from where they are to where they are going.
My husband Chad and I have been married almost 27 years and that in and of itself is a miracle worth celebrating. We’ve grown up together and learned a great deal along the way. One of our favorite ways to spend time together is to go for a walk. We have a local park with walking trails and those trails have been a great place for us to invest in our marriage and each other. As we walk, the lines of communication are opened, and real connection happens.
One evening while we were walking the trails, my husband and I were talking through our homework for a marriage class. In response to one of the questions, I realized that a barrier to us connecting on a heart level was my unwillingness to let my guard down. I wanted to connect, but I struggled with being vulnerable and sharing my hurts or frustrations for fear that he would shut down or worse, try and fix me. I sacrificed connection for the sake of safety. It felt safer to keep it to myself when the healthiest thing we can do in our marriage is to be real, open and honest with each other.
After I shared, the door was open for him to speak encouragement into me and love me through the hard places.
Marriage is about who you’re with, not what you’re doing.
Look at your spouse! You have an incredible gift beside you whether you can see it right now or not. We can get so caught up in the busyness, going through the motions of life, kids, ministry, work, obligations, to-do lists and miss the person God created that is right beside you through it all. These days it’s easy to miss each other in the fast-paced lives we live.
Marriage is about the approach, not the outcome.
We often miss out on meaningful connections not because we are avoiding each other but because sometimes we avoid the uncomfortable approach. When we skip past the daily doldrums and monotonous conversations, we can connect at a heart level. The approach always feels awkward, like a-pre-teen-with-braces-first-kiss awkward. But the approach signals to our spouse that we want to dive in a little deeper. Sometimes our response or lack of response can quickly shut the other down. It’s as if we say, “I’m not really interested”, instead of leaning into the connection we are desperately craving.
Marriage is about the journey, not the destination.
Journey literally means the passage from one stage to another. We are all on a journey called life alongside the person we vowed to love, honor and cherish above all else. Situations and circumstances in our lives are always changing. The journey is what makes us and shapes us into who we are called to be as husbands, wives, parents and friends. God is doing a magnificent work in each of us and He is using our marriage and family to compliment His handiwork. When we fix our eyes on the proverbial destination labeled “perfection”, we will quickly discover that we fall short on the daily. There is so much fun to be had and so many lessons to be learned when we lean into the adventure of marriage and the person we are adventuring with.
Marriage is about the season, not the habit.
There are seasons that require intense amounts of work and managing our marriage feels hard. There are tough seasons, seasons when we are going through the motions, fun seasons and busy seasons, intentional seasons and adventurous seasons. They are all a part of the ebb and flow of life and marriage. We can become lazy creatures of habit or we can look to each new season as the adventure this journey is intended to be.
Marriage is about connecting, not conquering.
Marriage is an opportunity to connect with our spouse on a level we don’t connect with anyone else. Connecting is as simple as sharing our hopes and dreams, our fears and insecurities. We can choose to be fully known, with all of our imperfections or keep them hidden and live like roommates. Shame and fear are not welcome here and will not be allowed to hold us hostage from the connection we are designed for. Marriage is not something to conquer and we can’t squander this gift we’ve been given. We get to press into connection and celebrate our story.
Marriage is about walking together, not running away.
We were designed to take each step, in stride, and learn and grow, together. During our walks in the park we talk about our day, our life, family stuff, check up on each other and talk about the future. We are shoulder to shoulder instead of face to face and that allows for hard conversations to not feel so confrontational. We have come to treasure these times and I leave the park feeling more loved and valued than if we had just been on the most romantic date! One of the worst things I can do is shut down or run away. Pressing into God and each other for the hard conversations is one of the greatest investments of a strong marriage.
How do we do make all of this a part of our everyday lives and our marriage?
Here’s what I want you to do:
- Set aside time, away from the kids and the house and go for a walk. (I prefer the park or trails because it’s a lot less distracting than stopping every few minutes to talk to your neighbors.)
- Ask these two questions: How are we doing? What can I do this week to be a better husband/wife? (allow both to answer the questions and just listen)
These two questions will always get the ball rolling. The first question serves as a thermometer to gauge the temperature, the second as a compass to point you in the direction you need to go.
Want to know the secret to a successful, healthy marriage? Regular connection and commitment to doing the work to make your marriage work. It seems so simple, but the benefit is great. As we pursue God and our spouse, we experience connection. As we connect, what we once thought were the big issues become small and our relationship grows. The ultimate goal in marriage isn’t to achieve a certain status and we never arrive at perfection. Marriage is hard, but it’s fun and it’s oh so worth it!