Paul Tripp has excellently titled his book on marriage What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. Throughout the book he challenges us on our excessively high expectations for married life, spends much time showing how married life reveals our sin and forces change, and offers a number of helpful hints at how to redeem the reality that is married life.
Today I want to share five ways in which we may be able to redeem the realities of marriage in our own lives. I honestly can’t remember if these are from Tripp’s book, or whether I read them elsewhere. But if you want to find out read my top five books on marriage.
Do you remember the nervous anticipation when you were first dating your spouse? The excitement that ran through your body as you got ready for a date? The endless repetition of numerous scenarios of how your evening together might go, and how you would react in each of those scenarios? Then one ‘perfect’ evening your hands accidentally touched across the restaurant table, both of you made eye contact and smiled and that evening on the after-dinner-walk you held hands; fingers interlocked and thumbs rubbing.
When is the last time you held hands with your spouse?
Holding hands is one of those treasures which we very quickly become accustomed to once we move in together. However, it is one of those realities which can help maintain friendship and romance; it can be another way of showing affection and desire; it can be remain something exciting that you look forward to whenever you are together.
So the next time you are in the cinema with your spouse, driving in the car together, walking through the shops, sitting on the sofa, maybe even sitting in church together(!), grab your spouse’s hand, give a gentle squeeze, smile and redeem a reality of marriage.
Eat at the Dinner Table
Remember how you used to treat your spouse to meals out and you would sit opposite one another, gazing into each other’s eyes and talking about everything and anything? Remember how after a few months of marriage you realised you were talking about the same four things every evening at dinner? Conversation dries up and either eating dinner moves to the sofa in front of the TV or else it is a very quiet affair.
It is hard in the middle of a busy life to sit down, quiet your mind and think about things to say to your spouse which don’t include: nagging them for things they did or didn’t do, complaining about or praising some work colleague incessantly, mumbling through the same, dry, stale ‘how was your day’ conversation. But, it is well worth the effort.
There is a vast amount of truth in the claim that you only really get to know who you married once you’re married – the dinner table is a great place to learn who you married. Make the effort to sit down together, at the table, with no TV or Radio on in the background and talk like you used to talk, flirt like you used to flirt and make your spouse feel like you are wooing them all over again.
Wash the Dishes Together
Don’t let it all stop at the dinner table though – do the washing up together. It is equally easy for one spouse to do all the cooking and the other to do all the washing. But in this cause you total avoid one another in the kitchen…
Continue the dinner conversation as you wash and dry the dishes together, carve out this time where you can be together, laughing, crying, complaining, dreaming, sharing…
Washing dirty plates is certainly a reality of marriage, but it is one we can redeem, one we can use to continue to foster and deepen a real and loving relationship!
Remember when the thought of kissing your spouse consumed your thoughts? When was the last time you kissed them?
Like we have mentioned already, living together makes everything seem very routine, very quickly. You see each other every morning (before you look presentable), you see each other every evening (once you’re worn out from work) and you head to the same bed every evening (to wrestle for the covers again). It is all familiar, and I’ll leave in the morning but sure I’ll see you again in the evening.
Take five seconds out of your morning routine to give your spouse a kiss before you leave the house, and take five seconds when you get home to kiss your spouse to let them know you’re back. This simple routine will help spark a bit of romance, care, affection, expectation and love.
Go to Bed Together
Being married is about sharing life, but so many couples do not share so many realities of marriage, so many aspects of their life. One of those aspects is the simple act of getting ready for bed and crawling in under the covers. Spouses enjoy different TV shows, perhaps one is a night owl while the other is an early bird, schedules just don’t line up and so bed time is different for them.
One way to continue to build and strengthen your relationship is to do things together, and going to bed is one of them. It offers another opportunity to talk, and it is one more aspect of life that can be shared.
Redeeming the Realities
Why bother? Well there are no Bible verses that say you must do these things, I can’t remember reading any scientific studies which say this will make your marriage longer and more fulfilling, and to be honest all of these things will be difficult when you’re tired, irritable and not on the best terms with your spouse.
But, Scripture does teach us that when two individuals decide to marry, and enjoy all of the benefits that come along with marriage, they are now one (Gen. 2:24). Logically, to enjoy marriage to its utmost, and find fulfilment in a partner, we must live life together, as one. All of these practical tips will aid us in living life together, in being one – these sometimes tedious realities offer us the opportunity to redeem our marriages, to be one with another again, to find joy in our union.