Marriage and life itself is filled with both good and not-so-good. Where are you focusing? We talk a little bit about what to do when faced with the bad stuff…
In the video we speak of strengths, and focusing on strengths in each other. Do you know your own strengths? What about your spouse’s strengths? Do you share strengths – or are your strengths complementary?
What are your strengths?
A few years ago we all (Rob, me and our 3 adult children) completed the StrengthsFinder2.0.The book version provides your top 5 strengths (out of 34).
Robert and I share two of five strengths: strategy & connectedness. The three ladies in our family – our daughter, daughter-in-love and me – all have the strength of empathy in our top five… and it goes on. When the 5 adult people in our family put our strengths into the 4 quadrants for a team, we are completely missing one quadrant. 😉 We joke that God will find our daugher a husband with strengths to fit into that last quadrant! You can read more about our StrengthsFinder 2.0 experience in this post.
In the end, we are given what talents we have. God knows our challenges and what we need to face along life’s way. He will provide the perfect answers in the perfect timing.
In the meantime – let’s focus on the good. What’s good?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Download the printable below – and print it – to remind you to focus on the good stuff!
Dream Team Planning and how to work your plan. That’s what the 5th mid-marriage encouragement video and this post is about!
There are 2 statements which show up over-and-over again when we speak with couples in the middle of marriage:
“Is this all there is?” and “We’ve grown apart.”
Sometimes those phrases are excuses. They become reasons why a couple won’t fight for their relationship. In other instances we hear those phrases when a couple truly doesn’t know where to go next in their relationship. They’re defaulting to chasing their own, singular goals.
Those two phrases raise the yellow caution flag for us. However.
Couples might find it easier to address those two statements than they believe.
They might be surprised at how simple it can be to grow closer together and feel re-energized by how much more there can be as a husband and wife leading a meaningful life!
What’s one idea to handle those two statements?
One idea to answer the question, “Is this all there is in my marriage?” and counter the feeling that you’re growing apart is to make a plan – together. Then work that plan. Yes. It can be that simple. (Simple… not easy. 😉 )
It can be as small as finding an inspiring spot go on your next vacation, instead of the tried and true.
the plan might be to serve your fellow humans in a new way (at church, a non-profit, or in your own business.
In our 5th Mid-Marriage video we encouraged you to go off-site to plan. We did this twice in our life, and it has had a profound impact. Here’s a book we recommend to shape your planning driven excursion – “48-hour Relationship Retreat“. It’s currently free in digital form if you have a KindleUnlimited account. It’s written by a husband and wife team, and it’ll get you thinking and doing – with a healthy heaping of laughter.
Once you have your plan for the Dream Team… then what?
You can’t work as a team without agreeing on a course or direction. You can use your shared Values as a signpost and rumble strips as you’re deciding. Learn more about your shared Values as a couple here.
Divide and conquer. As the dream team you need to know your roles, know your strengths and take action toward the goal. Yes, working together is sometimes best, but teamwork is as much about working on one goal separately, and using your strengths toward the common purpose. Have you ever done a strengths assessment? Here’s a great tool/assessement – we’ve done this as a family (our adult children and us) and it’s very insightful.
Dig in and dig deep – be persistent. Don’t let the first (or fifteenth) obstacle derail your efforts as the dream team! There will be roadblocks. The way might be slowed by dips or humps. You might need to take a detour. Don’t give up – DIG in. Be stubborn about your goal.
Talk about time and your shared priorities as a couple. It’s hard to get the important stuff done first. We provide solutions on how to do that in the middle of marriage. Take a look at the video below!
Talk About Time
The busiest times are in the middle, aren’t they? Time is at a premium. Be assertive with your time allotments. Be united when you decide what is and what is not a priority.
How do you decide what is a priority when you talk about time?
how Robert describes the view of a vision, a mission, and values
Use your Values as a couple when you talk about time and prioritize…
Robert and I use our values – loyalty, optimism and discovery – when we decide what will take priority in all the things we need to do.
As an example: If we find something new to do, or people to meet, (the Value of Discovery), we then decide if this new item or people fit into our Value of Optimism. If it works and fits, then we talk about whether the activity or people meet our need for Loyalty (to God first, then each other and those we love). If this new idea, activity or person fits into our rank-ordered Values, then we go ahead!
Your values will be unique to you as a couple, as unique as your meaning filled life!
Talk about time as a couple. Agree and Prioritize!
Bottom line? Have weekly meetings as a couple to prioritize. It’s important!
Agree what’s #1 on your list of items to do (according to your vision, mission and values) as a couple. Then complete your first priority before moving onto the other nine on the list.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to complete the other 9 items on the list, instead of number 1, just because they only take a few moments. Time disapears. Don’t move your first priority to next week’s agenda.
Your new spouse? What? Isn’t that the same guy – the same gal – that’s been by your side for a decade… or more?
Sure it is. And isn’t. Take a look what we mean in our 3rd Mid-Marriage Encouragement Video!
Your New Spouse
We’re not the same people we were when we married – we’ve changed. Hopefully we’ve grown over the years. (In more ways than our pant size, anyway. 😉 )
Get excited about this newest version of your spouse.
Find the positives. They’re there. Looking backward, and moaning about what has changed isn’t going to help your relationship. Sure. There may be areas in which you need to re-ignite, but even that new re-ignition will look different.
Consider these areas where changes can be positive with your “new” spouse:
You know much more about each other today than you did at the beginning of your relationship, don’t you? But perhaps you don’t talk as much as you’d like… If your conversational skills need to be re-ignited, try out some of these conversation starters to reminisce and reflect. Reminiscing is a fun way to start a conversation. Reflecting is a useful way to decide what needs to stay the same, and what needs to change. Robert and I wrote this resource in 2015 after we completed our yearly exercise of doing “plates” with our adult children.
Your intimate connection.
Yes. I meant sex. 😉 Robert and I aren’t called to write about sex in marriage, but we feel strongly that a close and vital physical connection is imperative to a good marriage. We have good online friends who write about sex in marriage from a Christian perpective. If this is an area of your marriage that needs to be re-ignited, then please, please don’t wait another day. This might be difficult to address… Especially if you’re carrying around more of you than when you first married… Chris at Forgiven Wife has written a very special and gentle 2-part post about enjoying a plus-size sex life. Part 1 – Part 2 Re-igniting your sexual joys might be difficult of you’re dealing with low-libido as a wife – Bonny at Oysterbed7 writes through a Christian lens about this. Her book, Unlock Your Libido is a wonderful resource. If you want to start a conversation about sex with your spouse – read her post about 25 reasons God made sex good!(that could start an interesting conversation… and more!)
Your hobbies and activities.
Discovering ways to serve and encourage others while you and your spouse enjoy each other is another way to meet this new version of your spouse. Robert and I brainstormed to find ideas on how to encourage each other, while serving others and came up with 12 date ideas. These dates will answer the question, “Is this all there is to our marriage?” in a positive way! I believe in the middle of marriage we forget that we can have fun while we’re serving. (fill in the form below to get the 12 date ideas)
What other ways have you and your spouse grown… changed… for the better?
You’re busy living – and that means there will be lots of mistakes made!
We have almost 33 years worth of mistakes to add up. But that’s OK – because it makes the blooper reel of our life extra humorous. Most of our flubbs, and muddles, and miscalculations are fodder for laughter.
When you and your spouse want to celebrate mistakes, step back from the bungle (once you’ve processed any pain) and try to see the lighter side of the issue.
Most times, when you seek to celebrate mistakes, you can view them as the inconveniences they are, and move on. However, it’s imperitive to remember these two parts of celebrating mistakes in the middle of marriage…
Two parts about mistakes to remember:
1 – Don’t blame your spouse for the mistakes… just move on.
2 – And, if you need to use those “oops” moments as a reference, then be respectful.
Don’t allow your mistakes to become your identity as a couple.
It’s not possible to solve every mistake. Some will need to be processed, and accepted. Some mistakes hurt – hurt terribly. But you can’t go back to un-make them. In every case – even these challenging ones – it’s important to learn how to apologize so your spouse feels your sincerity.
Dwelling on the oversights, ommissions, blotches, and errors won’t make them any easier to solve. Wallowing in the mistakes won’t un-make them. You have a choice!
Put all your energy into making things better.
Your challenge this week to celebrate mistakes:
Mistakes happen – and if you haven’t found it easy to move on, then we challenge you to remind yourself that mistakes are just fertilizer… How? We’ve created a PDF with some visuals/images (like those above) and a list of 29 quotes about mistakes.
To download these resources, head on over to our Patreon Page!