Marriage should not be merely endured; it should be enjoyed. Marriage between a husband and wife is a reflection of the greater marriage between God and His people.” I am grateful God delights in us, sings over us, and rejoices in the relationship we have with Him (Zephaniah 3:17). He does not merely tolerate us. And we, if we are His, enjoy Him. He is good and He is the source of all enjoyment. Geoffrey Bromiley wrote, “As God made man in His own image, so He made earthly marriage in the image of His own eternal marriage with His people.” So if we don’t enjoy our marriages, we are not offering the world a great picture of God’s marriage to us.
If you are married, you have to work at enjoying your marriage. Without effort marriage can easily drift from enjoyable to only existing. Kaye and I recently spoke to a group of married couples. In preparation for the talk, we outlined how we work to enjoy our marriage. While our marriage is not perfect, we do enjoy our marriage because we enjoy one another. Here is what Kaye and I do yearly, weekly, and daily to work to enjoy our marriage:
In twenty-two years of marriage we have taken a vacation together every year. We committed to this when we were first married—to take time every year to focus on each other and enjoy each other away from everything else in our lives, even important responsibilities and people. When we had hardly any money, we borrowed condos from family friends. When we had kids and people were surprised to hear we were leaving our nine-month old, we asked our parents to come watch our daughter, and we left town. We love exploring cities together, laying on beaches, trying new restaurants, and being alone in some remote area where it is just the two of us. We have learned that those times away build a strong foundation of enjoyment, connection, and memories that helps us through challenging times of life and ministry.
Some have lamented the pressure that a weekly “date” can put on couples. For us, it has been a huge part of our marriage. It has morphed each year as our lives and schedules have changed with kids. From finding a new restaurant every week in Miami, to many “stay at home dates” with takeout as our kids slept in Nashville, to our Friday hikes in SoCal – we continue to adjust. But every week we look forward to that time. And when we miss it, which happens more than we like, we miss out on times of enjoying together.
Daily can get pretty messy. With ministry and kid’s schedules, few days feel the same as the day before (which is a big reason the yearly and weekly time together is so important for us). We work to protect the two hours before our kids go to bed for time together as a family. After the kids go to bed, we sometimes spend time together talking or watching a favorite show. Other times we both work on individual projects we are passionate about. We call these “work nights,” and we are always on the same page about when they will be. Our big commitment to one another is to communicate every day.
Because we want each other to enjoy life, we have committed to help one another experience hobbies or activities that are of interest. We discuss those and get on the same page about how we can adjust our schedules to help each other. When Kaye wanted to run a marathon, we talked about how I could do special things with the kids during her long training runs and the days of races. When I want to schedule basketball games or mountain biking, I do so with her. We have an agreement that either one of us can say “no” to the other’s hobbies if we feel they are adversely impacting our family. In twenty-two years, it has not yet happened.
Yes, we want our marriage to endure. But we also want our marriage to be enjoyed.