Themes for Marriage

Sometimes the very presence of God is barred by our presuppositions and our intense and constant desire for triumph.

-Ravi Zacharias

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There was something about Mavidea and its leaders that drew me to the company.  When I first started at Mavidea I came to realize what their secret sauce was.  Culture.  One of the many things I have come to learn from Mavidea about culture is how to use themes to bring people together.  Jamie and I liked this idea so much that we decided to use themes in our marriage.

The first theme we chose?  Do life together.  Early in our marriage we struggled with expectations so this theme was a way to help us with that. It did lots of other awesome things but it certainly served as a built in expectation buster.  Expectations.  Propping up a date or pointing to an event and saying ‘it is going to be the best’.  When things are not the best – it is disappointing to say the least.  Unknowingly, setting expectations, we found ourselves working towards life instead of working to enjoy it.

Jamie and I used to wake up on a Saturday morning and each go our own way. Each with our own lists of to dos.  The idea?  Get all this stuff done and out of the way so we could get back together sooner and really enjoy our time together.  Let me tell you how that went.

We each wake up and discuss our plan of attack on the day.  You do your list while I do mine and we will be done at approximately four and then, then,… we will have fun and enjoy.  Break.  Go team.  Expectation.  Set.  I busily go about my work and Jamie, separately, goes about hers.  Four o’clock comes and sure enough we are done with our lists.  Success.  ?

Now comes the time to enjoy life.  At this point there are some pent up expectations.  Namely from four o’clock on will be enjoyable.  After all we just sacrificed our day up until now so it would be. There is some pressure there. That we created. Interesting.

Now, let us say that we do happen to select something that sounds fun for both of us. Disaster averted. One time I recall we decided to rent a movie. We head to the movie store and proceed to get in a fight about what movie to watch. Nice.

Enter our theme to do life together. We now combine our lists. Among other things it forces us to learn to enjoy going to the grocery store, together.  And enjoy pulling all nighters at a hackathon working on software, together.  Sure we may not get done as early or even get everything on each of our lists done.  But when we are done, the pent up expectations are not there.  After all, if our post list time is not ‘the best’, we have already spent the whole day together.

It is not always easy. Sometimes it does not seem productive. But we have grown closer together because of it. Sometimes we still divide and conquer but that is now the exception.

What would your theme be?

 

-A takeaway from Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.

 

 

Companionship

Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

-Jesus Christ

Somers Family Mission Statement - 2013

Jamie and I read a fantastic book called The Three Questions for the Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni last year right around our anniversary.  Lencioni suggests married couples should ask themselves what is the most important thing to focus on over the next 3-9 months.  Jamie and I chose to focus on building a marriage that glorifies God.

Lencioni then suggests we should list out the activities we think will help us get there.  We cleverly called these: “How do we get there?”  After that Lincioni suggests we should list out things that will always be important so that we do not lose sight of the basics and remain balanced.  For example, listing out finances in this area would keep us from spending too much money on an activity that would help us achieve what is most important.  A check and balance of sorts.

Once you have your three questions answered the idea is to review the bottom two sections regularly with each other.  We set aside regular time to each give them a green, yellow, or red. Green meaning it going good and red meaning it is not going so good.  Following this routine has lead to some fantastic conversations and understandings and learnings.  God is good.

One of our activities or “How do we get there?”‘s is companionship.  For us companionship was tricky.  We were used to ‘taking turns’ as it were.  For example when we were dating in college, if I had a big exam coming up, Jamie would not bring up things that were bothering her.  On the surface this seemed like the right thing to do.  I can tell you, at least for Jamie and I, it was not. Things would build up. It was not good. This was a habit we needed to break.

It helps us to consider our thinking when we are trying to break a habit.  Our beliefs surrounding the issue.  Again the approach seemed to make sense.  Sacrifice for the other person by not bringing anything controversial up, asking for help, etc. while it was their ‘turn’.

I have come to believe that this is not God’s design for companionship.  When we lay something like that on our spouse we are asking them to give.  Give us time, attention, priority.  When asking someone to give to us they will often be in one of  two states.  1.) A position of abundance.  2.)  A position of lack.  When we give from a position of lack I believe this is one of the most pleasing things to God.  (Mark 12:44)  So the conclusion Jamie and I have reached is this: by not asking for help when the other is busy, we are actually robbing them of an opportunity to please God.

The end result.  We ask for help.  No matter what.  It works.  For us.

 

-A takeaway from The Three Questions for the Frantic Family by Patrick Lincioni

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.