It is EVIDENT that lots of people love fall. There are memes and facebook covers, promotions and pumpkin patches. When the weather starts to make that slightest turn from scorching heat, people break out the boots, light the fires and talk of the change. As F. Scott Fitzgerald so eloquently states, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
We all know change can be good. Breaking out of patterns that are mundane or destructive, and forging into new ways whether it is about how we spend money, take care of our health or parent our children. But how often, honestly, do we examine our marriages for areas that need change? And then, the bigger question: how often do we do something about it?
Here are 5 ways we challenge you to embrace change in your marriage during this season that is all about change:
Right now, in this very instant, purpose that you will live generously. What does that look like? Sure…it looks like paying-it-forward with your money and buying the person behind you in line coffee at your favorite shop. Or it means donating to a charity that stirs your soul. It may mean filling the backpack for students who can’t afford all the school supplies. But what about your marriage…what are ways you can live generously in your marriage? Here goes:
- Have eyes to see the mundane or routine things your spouse does for you – maybe your laundry gets washed and folded each week without your saying anything. Or maybe the groceries appear in the pantry. Maybe your tires get rotated or the lawn gets mowed or the porch gets swept. SEE IT. With new eyes. And then appreciate your spouse, out loud, and look them in the eye as you speak. We challenge you to do this every day this fall.
This one can be a challenge. At first glance, you may think you don’t complain. Is that true…really? What is your gut response when something isn’t just so…when the kids wake you on the weekend, or you can’t find your phone? Someone drinks the last of the coffee or forgets to put the garage door down. Maybe you couch your complaints in “wishes…” like I WISH you would have called me today. Stop. Just stop. And START:
- Dreaming. Together. This is a dare for the fall…and it can dramatically change your marriage. Hold your spouse’s hand and look in their eyes and speak a dream, out loud. It can be a really big dream (I dream about us getting on a SpaceEx rocket and flying to Mars) or a day-to-day dream (I dream about us getting to curl up this evening and watch This is Us). Speaking a dream to your partner, big or little, every day, breathes life into your relationship. You may find yourselves speaking the same dream and then strategizing on how it can come true. Meantime? Those things that were taking your headspace in complaints start to dim…
Male or female, our physical intimacy is deeply connected to our emotional intimacy. No matter how tough the exterior or seemingly impermeable to feelings, it just isn’t so. A huge, enormous and both subtle and screaming barrier to intimacy is our electronic world. Our engagement with our facebook and instagram. Creating and sharing our stories and endlessly connecting with all our friends. Online. With our spouse sitting right next to us at the table, or on the couch. Or in bed. We are not necessarily advocating turning off social media, but we challenge you to manage it and make it an enhancement to your life – not allow it to be your life. So…
- Put it down. Carve out time that is social media and electronic gadget free. When the ding of a message or the sound of a like will NOT distract you, no matter what. Make your living, breathing partner in front of you or by your side your focus and obsession. Do this, with intentionality, for extended periods of time EVERY DAY.
- Another part of this fall change: if you have been talking to another via text or chat or email or game comments and your spouse doesn’t know? Just stop. That is robbing your marriage of intimacy, it is betraying the bounds of your commitment. Seriously – this starts out really subtle but it is devastating to your marriage. If you are struggling here, reach out to us. We can help. We’ve been there.
All the marriage advice sites tell you to “have a date night.” Sure…that’s great. But we advocate something even more basic and constant: have fun. Early on, we had fun. We both thought about it and were really purposeful to create fun. Somehow we quit doing that and it takes finding joy in the mundane. This fall, maybe you can have fun by:
- Making the bed together. It’s more fun than you realize when you do it together
- Get out an old year book and share some quirky things from those years
- Make green eggs and ham one morning. Or green eggs and tofu. Or just green eggs
- Rake leaves and then crawl in the pile, lay down on your backs and throw the leaves in the air (that could be a cool selfie)
- Go to the pumpkin patch together, without your kids
- Tell stupid jokes, and allow yourselves to laugh
You get the idea. Find the fun in the little things, and dare to go back to allowing yourselves to be in the moment. Lifechanging.
DON’T GIVE UP
A counselor once told us that as we try to embrace these new ways of thinking and being it would be TOUGH. He called us to remember when we very first did something new…like driving. We were tense and nervous and trying to remember all the things we’d been told: look in the mirrors, hands on 10 and 2…but within just a couple days, we were cruisin’ down the highway with one arm on the wheel, relaxed. So it is with these fall changes that we want you to live.
Don’t give up. Give yourselves a chance to settle into a new normal. A normal that is generous and hopeful. A normal that is connected and fun. This fall, right now. If you mess up, it’s okay. If you complain again. If you forget to dream. If you have a few days of no fun. Start again and embrace the season with change.
Living the unboundedlife,
Susan and Jere