As we are writing this article, we are preparing for as milestone in our life as a couple. LifeWay Publishers is flying a team out to our home town of San Diego to film Bill and me to create a 7 week, small-group, DVD-driven marriage curriculum from our best selling book, Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti. We are incredibly humble by this wonderful opportunity and extremely excited because it has been our goal as a couple to have our love be a light from the moment we said, "I Do."
When big, breakthrough moments like this happen, it's natural to stop, ponder and look back to the steps that created the path to such an incredible blessing. If you retraced our steps, one of the major stepping stones included marking our 25th anniversary in a world with rising divorce rates. Before that, we remember choosing to navigate midlife by tangibly supporting each other’s dreams, and prior to that, we remember many days of just choosing to love each other to the best our abilities.
The Power of Prayer
I remember one particularly pivotal time years ago -- kneeling together at the end of a hotel bed in Eugene, Oregon just prior to a meeting with Harvest House Publishers. What sticks out to us in that memory is our prayer -- it wasn’t so much for fame, success or even money (which on a small church pastor's salary would have been a legitimate prayer), but instead we prayed God would continue to make our lives a light so that some might come to know Jesus because of the love they could see in our relationship. Looking back, we realize prayer has been integral to each milestone. Even before we said "I Do" at the alter, we remember praying that God would help us live individual lives of integrity and date in a way that honored God. As far back as I can remember in our relationship, we made it a goal to use our time, talent, and treasure to somehow team with others to build marriages and families and lower divorce and distress. This filming marks the answer to decades of prayers each night before Bill and I drifted off to sleep.
A Life-long Love
What about your and your spouse? What are your hopes, dreams and goals as a couple? What types of goals does a couple need to actively set in order to maximize achievement without eliminating intimacy? In Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, we share the key "steps" a couple needs in order to maintain a healthy love and life. We have discovered it is helpful to write goals in four major life areas. You’ll want to develop:
Your Spiritual Life
Your spiritual life. This area includes goals that build a closer walk with God. For example, a daily personal devotional time with God, Bible studies, church attendance, verses you’d like to memorize, and growth activities such as retreats, conferences, Christian radio, and books you’d like to read. When you are connected to God, your perspective is renewed, and your decision-making skills sharpen because you will be thinking more like him.
Your team. Included in this section are goals that will build into your significant relationships, like marriage, family, and close personal friends. One author recommends we prioritize our lives by who will cry at our funeral.21 When you maintain healthy relationships, then you will have more emotional stability to tackle life. Your motivation for life will increase as your relationships are strengthened. This is where you would divide home responsibilities so that the stuff of everyday life does not rob your desire for one another.
Your energy. To maintain a high level of energy you must manage the areas of life that are of importance to you as an individual. This will include your personal finances, emotional well-being, health, and social life. It will also include those activities that are vital to you as an individual: hobbies, sports, reading, leisure activities, and areas of study or crafts.
Your productivity. This area includes goals in your career, education, and ministry (both public and personal). What type of work do you want to pursue? What position do you want to attain to in that field? What type of education do you need to fulfill these pursuits? Who are the people you would like to personally influence for Christ? How would you like to use your gifts in your local church ministry?
Together, take a S.T.E.P. forward into God’s will for your life as a couple. One goal we hope you will take this month of October, Clergy Appreciation Month, is to do something to bless the marriages of your pastor, the church staff and couples who lead the parachurch organizations your family benefits from. Today, step out and make a goal to do something to encourage your marriage and something to encourage a leader’s marriage.
Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers and the authors of over 20 books including Every Marriage is a Fixer-Upper and their newest, Red Hot Monogamy. For more information on their books and ministry: 800-810-4449 or http://farrelcommunications.com.