If I had been asked 30 years ago what would be necessary to enjoy and engage in a marriage for thirty years, I am sure the questions would have been met with a blank stare. I might have said something general like “well, we’re just going to love each other.” Loving someone for thirty years takes much more than the emotional charge.
In hindsight, the one “key” element that we didn’t plan out, but intuitively put into practice as we went, would be “Investment.” Every day we made a contribution to the quality of how we loved each other. And these events were not dramatic, romantic or empathetic, they were little things that only we knew to do for each other – make sure the “right” kind of cereal was in the cupboard, being delivered coffee before my shower, stealing a kiss when no one was looking and feeling 19 again, opening our home to those sent to us that in hindsight taught us far more than we ever gave.
We’ve lived a very busy ministry life. Planting/leading 8 churches, raising 4 awesome children, homeschooling, sports teams, travel, moving to another state to pastor a 75 year old church, then moving back into church planting again. Through it all, my husband and I have made sure that our marriage didn’t revolve around our ministry, or even around our children.
We made a point to build an intimate relationship that is apart from all that we do. It is our sacred time, time to rejuvenate and rejoice in the love in an eternal partnership. This is the first time I have spoken of it publically; our intimacy requires no one else – we are one with each other.
This sounds basic, I know! It is the genuine reality of our marriage in Christ, our family and the community of believers we lead. Though our life is lived in public, privacy is an intimate act for us. In light of what happens to so many couples and people seeking the sanctity of a God-fearing loving relationship – I believe private, sacred time is rarely practiced these days. And from the role of a pastor, the travesty is the loss of time to nurture our personal relationship with Jesus.
As the wife of a pastor commanding public attention, as a pastor, and mother, friend and caregiver to my parents, it is my wife life that feeds my ability to do what is in front of me. And privacy is the key to intimacy and rekindling a flame that over the years has changed from a raging fire, to a source of well-being. Whether it is a ministry trip, or a lunch date, we carve out moments for just us. It hasn’t always been easy, but it is always very necessary.
Humor, telling stories, talking about the Lord together, getting away together to connect, to laugh, to play together, and just enjoy the relationship has been the single most beneficial investment we’ve made. We call it making deposits into the treasure box. Our bank accounts may not be huge, but our treasure box is. And the dividends pay royalties that are non-taxable but more valuable than any bauble I might wear or journey we might take.
Many of our peers built their lives around the ministry or the children, then find themselves strangers when the children leave, or the ministry fades. As “Godly” as it sounds to give your whole life to your family or ministry, it doesn’t pay forward in your marriage relationship.
After 30+ years of deposits into the “treasure box” of our relationship, we find ourselves saying, “Our marriage is precious and a gift from God but it relies on daily investment in the oath and commitment we made over thirty years ago. Our investment styles are different, we don’t assess value in the same way, I want security and he wants to take care of the moment, he wants to be the world he sees humans are capable of becoming and I want to help people see they already are what they are becoming, they just have to unburden themselves from the protective armor that limits them, and we both want to pay forward for all that we have been given.
I’ve rarely gone to the bank with my husband and we don’t deposit the same way. Whether it’s the ATM or standing in line…we both make deposits in our own way… but after thirty years, we still have a joint account.
So my encouragement for all of you, look at your relationships. You don’t have to be married to be committed; “make deposits everyday into your treasure box of relationships. I guarantee it will pay forward in your life and generate boundless knowledge you could not see with one set of eyes. You can become better at being you by making sacred time for your divine and earthly relationships.