At our house, we like gadgets … especially gadgets that work for us. Those that don't work must go.
Such was the case with our most recent cordless phone. It was a good phone with one unbearable feature: the microphone projected your voice through the ear receiver … and it picked up any other sound in the room as well, including the voices of our four young and active children. When my wife used the phone, she often needed to leave our kitchen and talk upstairs in our bathroom with the door closed.
When I saw what was happening, I simply bought a different phone. Problem solved … happy wife.
In a marriage relationship, however, the solutions are not so easy. Often the noise of our homes and our lives—even the noise of our own minds and hearts—drowns out the possibility of having some of our most important conversations. If you are as busy as we are, then you know what I'm talking about.
If you're not sure, let me ask you this: When was the last conversation you and your spouse had that brought real and positive change to your home, your marriage, and your lives?
Or, how about this one: When was the last conversation you had with your spouse that lasted longer than dinner? It's okay … you can admit it. It's been so long you're embarrassed to say or you can't even remember and you're speechless.
Our need for getting away
One of the greatest needs of any married couple is for unhurried time together. And it's amazing how many couples go for years without ever getting away for a day or weekend together—away from the children, and away from their normal worries and cares.
FamilyLife sees this problem time and again on the evaluations from our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. For many couples the weekend is memorable because they have such a long time to really connect with each other. As one wife from Staten Island, New York, put it, "It was the first time in almost 12 years of marriage that we were able to get away."
In his book, Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes tells this story:
Years ago, in the Midwest, a farmer and his wife were lying in bed during a storm when the funnel of a tornado suddenly lifted the roof right off the house and sucked their bed away with them still in it. The wife began to cry, and the farmer called to her that it was no time to cry. She called back that she was so happy, she could not help it—it was the first time they had been out together in 20 years!
If we cannot make room in our schedules for solid communication with our spouses, then we are just too busy. How can we understand each other if we never take the time to hear each other … I mean really hear each other? Truth is … we can't.
As busy as we are, we need to go out and claim that alone time. We must make it a priority.
Our model for getting away
Whenever we try to explain away or justify our busyness, we must deal with the example provided by Jesus. Surely, the importance of our daily tasks pales in comparison to the importance of Christ's work when He walked the earth. Yet, through all of the demands on His time, He regularly got away to be alone.
A good example is found in Mark 6. After the miraculous act of feeding the multitudes, Jesus sent His disciples across the sea. He Himself remained. "After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray" (Mark 6:46). This was late in the evening. At other times, He got away from the noise early in the morning. (See Matthew 14 and Mark 1 for examples.)
In this scenario, Jesus was getting away to talk with God. But the lesson is clear: Sometimes busyness must yield to the importance of necessary communication. This is true of your relationship with God; it is also true of your relationship with your spouse.
Encouragement for getting away
John and Julie Majors make a habit of getting away regularly for a weekend together. They believe the greatest benefit has been their joint decisions on family priorities. John puts it this way: "All the little arguments about priorities are avoided because we decide our priorities over the weekend. Now, when something comes up and we have to make a decision on it, we re-visit our goals from the weekend and see if it fits within those goals. If not, we feel complete freedom to say 'No.'"
Julie finds another benefit from their time away. "Another big benefit to our relationship is just that I feel loved when John takes the lead in planning a weekend like this," she says. "I am so grateful that he does it. It's an awesome way for him to show me his love."
(For more on planning for a weekend getaway, be sure to read the excellent book by Bill and Carolyn Wellons, Getting Away to Get it Together.)
What should we talk about?
Many couples see the benefit of getting away for a day or a weekend, but are unsure of what they would do to fill all that time. Let's remove some of the mystique and the unknown by looking at examples of what you might discuss.
When you prepare for a getaway with your spouse, consider your own role first. Consider asking your spouse questions like these:
- In what ways do you feel cherished by me?
- In what ways do you feel taken for granted?
- In what areas have you seen God change my heart and spirit this past year?
- In what areas would you like to see me grow in my heart and spirit over this next year?
- What three things am I currently doing that make you feel encouraged?
- What three things could I do that would help encourage you further?
After you've asked the questions … listen. This is not the time to get defensive or to explain why you do or don't do something. This is the time to hear your spouse's heart and to give him or her permission to share—honestly share.
If you are parents, spend time talking about yourself as a father or mother. Talk about each of your children and where they are spiritually, emotionally, socially, and relationally. Consider questions such as these.
- What three things could I do to help you fulfill your role as a father/mother?
- In what ways could I improve in how I help you?
- What are the top three issues you see in (child's name)'s life right now?
- What do you think he/she needs in the next six months to overcome those issues?
- In what two areas could I most improve as a father/mother?
Finally, consider general family questions. These do not deal with individuals and how they are fulfilling their roles in the family. These deal with the family as a whole. Consider questions like these.
- How has God used our family in the past six months in the lives of others?
- How do you sense He is leading for the next six months?
- How effective has our family worship/devotional time been? Should we make changes?
- In what ways has God answered prayer in the last six months?
- For what should we be praying in these next six months?
- What atmosphere do we want others to feel when they come into our home? Do our activities and our attitudes help us to achieve this goal?
Also, on your getaway, take time to just enjoy the break from the speed of life. Take walks. Go sightseeing. Experience unrushed intimacy. Simply put … enjoy each other!
Addressing all of these questions takes time. If we are going to have marriages and families that honor God and accomplish His purposes in our lives, we need to take the necessary time to get away and talk about the important things of life.
When we do, great things can and will occur.
Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
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