Community as marriage seems odd, doesn’t it? Loving your neighbor is often spoken of in Christian circles, but it’s mainly viewed as loving those outside our inner circles. We’ve heard messages about loving those different than us. We’ve been asked to love our enemies. It’s been suggested to love our boss, our weirdo cousin and Joe Schmo on the sidewalk.
But what about your spouse as your “neighbor”?
Is it because we know they snore? Or that they don’t pick up their dirty clothes? Whatever it is, the truth remains: our marriage is one of our most precious circles of community, but most often the least honored.
I’m actually married to an incredible man, but to be honest, I could hardly imagine being married to me. I’m high strung, always moving and hard to pin down. Somehow my husband has found ways to love me and I’m obviously grateful.
But after close to 10 years of marriage and 3 kids later, Michael and I recognized that loving one another felt different. We still did, but it seemed as though we were going through the motions. We had forgotten how to have fun, and we most certainly forgot the beauty of intentionality in marriage.
So we decided to make a radical change. We committed, in the midst of our chaos, that we would begin to refocus on loving our neighbor, which for us meant loving each other. In so doing, we’ve been using some practical tools to help our minds realign with our feelings… and they’re working.
This week we want to share some of these tools with you. Most importantly, we want to share one question a day to think about and discuss with your spouse in the evening. As we’ve done this, we’re finding that we still have a lot in common, that we both have really fun memories of our past and that we both believe for the same things about our future.
And, bonus, it’s really simple! Below are five prompts. You each think on the prompt as much as you can throughout the day and then discuss it at night. Just try it for one week. You might be amazed! If your husband is against the idea, why don’t you give it a try yourself? You might find a new joy in loving your neighbor by refocusing your mind.
Thought: I am genuinely fond of my partner.
Task: List one characteristic you find endearing and loving.
Thought: I can easily speak of the good times in our marriage.
Task: Pick one good time and write a sentence about it.
Thought: My partner has specific qualities that make me proud.
Task: Write down one characteristic that makes you proud.
Thought: We have common goals.
Task: List one such goal.
Thought: I can easily recall when we first met.
Task: Describe that meeting on paper.
These are simple prompts. Obviously, you can change these out and create new ideas throughout the year. It might become a whole new routine.
Honoring the covenant we have with our spouse isn’t just beautiful before the Lord, it’s life-giving for us. We can’t wait for you to use these tools. Loving our neighbor may have just become a whole lot more fun!