The Best Year of your marriage
52 Devotions to Bring You Closer
By Jim Daly, Jean Daly, Paul Batura
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2014 Focus on the Family
All rights reserved.
Making Time to Talk
"You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let me hear your voice! Come away, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains."
Song of Songs 8:13-14
Caleb and Trina, recently married, didn't have much spare time. They had full-time jobs and took evening classes. They also found themselves over-invested in church duties and under-invested in each other. They spent little time together, and found even less time to converse. When they did talk, it was mostly to argue and criticize each other. They even questioned whether or not they should be married because they were "falling out of love."
One day, Caleb took a drive in the country. Long into the evening, about two miles from home, the car suddenly stopped. It had run out of gas.
Something came to Caleb's mind at that moment: His marriage was running out of fuel, too. He knew that he and his wife needed help, and needed it immediately.
Fortunately, they were referred to a marriage counselor. The first thing they learned there was the "24-5 Principle"—based in part on Deuteronomy 24:5: "If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married."
Like Caleb and Trina, many couples don't take enough time to talk, bond, and firmly connect with each other. How about you?
If you're a newlywed, you can apply the 24-5 Principle by making an agreement for one year. Refrain from extra responsibilities in order to focus on and establish your marriage. Bond with your spouse. Bring happiness to one another. If your church asks you to take on a major task during this time, you might say something like, "Thank you for thinking of us. We're so pleased with the church and so encouraged by all of you. But we've been strongly advised to invest in each other this first year. Please ask us again in a year or so."
What if you're past the one-year mark? You can apply the 24-5 Principle anytime by doing five things:
1. Keep your promise to "become one." One of the best ways to do this is by spending time talking, setting goals, going shopping, playing tennis—even reading a devotional book.
2. Be intentional and selective. Everyone has the same amount of time—24 hours a day. If talking really is a priority for you, you'll say no to time-stealers like TV sitcoms, reality shows, and the Internet.
3. Be creative and perseverant. Talk about a variety of subjects—solving problems, overcoming challenges, strengthening your spiritual life, and just having fun. And remember that bonding and connecting don't happen overnight.
4. Enjoy and encourage uniqueness. Think of how boring it would be to be married to yourself! Those conversations wouldn't be very interesting, would they? As you spend time together, resist the temptation to try remaking your spouse in your image. Let the Holy Spirit transform both of you into the image of Christ.
5. Respect God's gift. God has given you and your spouse each other. How are you nurturing that gift? Taking time to talk is part of that.
—James Groesbeck with Amy Swierczek
WORTH THINKING ABOUT
Read Song of Songs 8:13-14 again. What does it mean to you to hear your spouse's voice? Where are your favorite places to "come away" and talk?
WORTH PRAYING ABOUT
Ask God to help you make wise choices about how you use your time this week, and to give you wisdom to make the most of your time together.
Choose a chore or recreational activity (washing dishes, hiking, weeding the garden, etc.) that you and your spouse can do together during the next 24 hours. Make sure it's something you can do while talking. Then pick a topic you'll discuss—something positive, like planning a vacation or remembering the two best movies you ever watched together. Some conversations require lots of concentration and eye contact, but talking while doing something else can be an efficient, non-threatening way to break the ice—especially if you haven't communicated in a while. (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Best Year of your marriage by Jim Daly, Jean Daly, Paul Batura. Copyright © 2014 Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
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