If someone told you that investing in your marriage was a wise move, I’m nearly positive that 99.99% of people would agree with that statement. Here’s the trick… actually investing in your marriage! Yes, we just have to make the time and do it!
‘Investing’ means taking a risk with some kind of resource with the hope that you will receive something in return that is greater than the initial resource you risked. When it comes to investing anything in your marriage – my guess is that most things will end up giving you a higher return in the end. In other words, you’re making a safe and wise investment.
This weekend my wife and I attended a marriage retreat, which was the culmination of an 8 week study based on the Prepare / Enrich program. If you read no more (if you do, I’ll include a couple tips we learned ourselves), consider going through this course with either a marriage mentor or a small group – it’s a very wise investment.
The reason we decided to attend an 8-week small group that focused on marriage was for several reasons. First, we just moved to a new city and we felt like it was a good way to get connected with other couples in the church that we decided to attend. Secondly, it was only an 8 week commitment, so if we wanted to opt out of something after just a few weeks, it would be easier than leaving a small group bible study that has no end in sight. Lastly (and at the time – the least important reason in our minds), was to maybe get something out of the group for our marriage.
In the end, we were lucky to have all of our goals met. We met some great people, feel more plugged into our church, and walked away with some great tools for establishing a stronger marriage.
First of all, here are some of the reasons that I enjoyed the Prepare / Enrich program:
- Each person (not as a couple – but as individuals) takes an ‘inventory’ (it’s an assessment with a bunch of multiple choice answers using the Likert scale) of their marriage through a 25 minute (200+ question) form before the group even starts. The questions are great, and are used as a starting point for the entire program.
- I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that was given, nor did I feel underwhelmed by the amount of practical advise that came out of the program. In other words, we walked away with very practical exercises or thoughts on how to deal with different areas of our marriage.
- It didn’t shy away from the things that I know are important – like sex, conflict resolution, and spirituality.
- I enjoyed the group format (though there’s also a mentor format, where a couple meets one-on-one with a mentor). The group format was great because we didn’t feel alone in the process of growing our marriage – other people have issues, too!
Here are some specific things and tools that we thought were very valuable for our marriage specifically:
- What we hear isn’t always what the other person is saying (think about the essence of communication – it’s not just verbal, but also physical, tonal, and so much more). So, rather than assuming we’re hearing something correctly, it’s a great practice to answer by saying, “What I’m hearing you say, is______”. This creates room for more clear understanding and less assumptions.
- There may be stressors that are affecting one or both of the spouses in your marriage – and you don’t even really know it. By simply taking some sort of inventory or test (or by having mentors ask about all areas of your life), you may be able to recognize those stressors and how to work on them. Specifically, my health (exercise and being in shape) has affected me and my marriage more than I knew. We are now taking steps to make sure I get the necessary time to exercise more.
- Intimacy is important in marriage, and there are many different types of intimacies – sexual, emotional, physical, social, relational, familial, and many, many more… There may be areas of intimacy that are missing in your marriage (it’s ok to not be strong in every category – some people just prefer to be more intimate is some ways versus others), and ask each other which of those ways is important to you, and discuss how to improve that area of intimacy.
I challenge you to do something to invest in your marriage. Maybe that just means doing the one thing for your spouse that you haven’t done for awhile. Or maybe it means that you tell your spouse that you want to invest in your marriage (men, imagine how that would go over with your wife!) and find a way that both of your would want to invest.