During the month of December you were introduced to 4 women and men with 4 new books for moms and dads. I’ve been excited to share each one with you. I want to bring you the best of the best! And… during this time my wrist has been healing (YAY) from my November car accident. Today I have a bonus writer for you. Meet Cindi McMenamin. She is helping us start off 2015 with five helpful goals for marriage.
I’ll be back next week.
With faith, hope and love,
LoriPS If you are doing the free four week New Start ’15 Bible Study, Check these links for this weeks blogs and readings:
5 Ways to Grow Closer to Your Spouse in 2015
By Cindi McMenamin
I’ve always been a goal-setter.
Every January I would come up with new goals to save more money, be more productive on my job, read more books, lose more weight, and basically get in better shape mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually.
I was just missing one area.
What was I doing to get in better shape, relationally, with my husband?
Convicted at where my priorities were, I realized that I needed to intentionally invest in my marriage just as much as I was investing in other areas of my life. And that meant setting tangible goals yearly in that area, too.
So …I let my husband, Hugh, in on the goal-making process by asking him a few non-threatening questions. From those questions, we ended up setting our yearly goals together, which we’ve done now for the past ten years or so.
I initiated our goal-setting process by asking my husband these three questions:
1. What do you wish we could do as a couple that we rarely or no longer take the time to do?
2. What have you always wanted to do together that we haven’t yet done?
3. What, specifically, would you like to see us accomplish together in the next year?
My husband’s answers to those questions opened up a whole new arena — and adventure — of yearly goal-setting together. And because I took the time — and initiative — to be deliberate and intentional in asking him what things he would like to see changed or improved upon in our marriage, I actually had a place to start (instead of just feeling like maybe he was unhappy or maybe there was more to our relationship that we were failing to discover).
We also ended up incorporating into our lives some things like a weekly day to play, projects we’ve long talked about and finally accomplished together, and trips we’ve planned and taken that we might not otherwise have even talked about.
I encourage you to ask your spouse those questions above and then come up with some goals of your own for 2015. But if that’s too big of a step for now, or if you’re frustrated at being the one who has to initiate a closer connection, here’s a place to start — five simple goals for a closer connection in the next year:
1. Start your day with a kiss. Simple, but effective. Studies show couples who kiss each other daily (even a quick peck on the cheek) are happier, overall, than couples who don’t.
2. Say encouraging words. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it reaps marvelous results. Ephesians 4:29 says “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (NLT).” Think in terms of “I’m only going to say it if my spouse is encouraged by it.” You’ll notice, within days, how your relationship improves.
3. Plana regular date night. If you have children and can rarely afford a babysitter, find another couple in the same situation and exchange babysitting once a month so each couple can have a monthly date night. Dating was important before you were married and believe us, it’s even more important after you’re married.
4. Read through a relationship-building book together. I know, it might sound like “work” to you or your spouse, but it can be fun, and a great investment of your time together. Maybe it will consist of you reading to your spouse before bed. Or taking turns reading a chapter to each other once a week. I tried for years to get my husband to read through a relationship book with me and finally he insisted on writing a couples book with me that he — and other men — would enjoy reading (When Couples Walk Together)! Working through a devotional book together will help you see deeper into your spouse’s heart, as well as your own.
5. Pray together regularly. We’ve heard this advice as often as you have, but it took us years to get to that place. We will admit that, even as a couple in ministry (my husband is a pastor), it’s difficult to find concentrated time to pray together. But when we started spending just a few minutes praying together before work in the morning, we found that a short prayer also included a hand held, two hearts shared, and a connection with God together that made all the difference in our day. If it’s still a struggle in your marriage, pray about how the two of you can make time to pray together.
What will you do in 2015 to cultivate a closer connection with your spouse? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment section below.
Would you like to get a free copy of Cindi’s book, When Couples Walk Together? To enter the contest, leave a comment on this blog and Cindi will pick the winner by choosing the most creative or inspirational message. Have fun!