I remember a pompous debate before class started my freshman year in college. My roommate and I were arguing about when courtship ends—with engagement or marriage. Here’s what made it memorable. Our professor, who at the time seemed older than Mt. Rushmore, had quietly been writing something on the white board. He suddenly turned around and said, “Young men, I’ve been married more than 45 years and I’m still courting my wife.” The discussion ended, and we never looked at him quite the same way again. Are you stoking the fire? If you’re married, don’t discount these four simple ways to keep things crackling.
Keep small things small
Author Mike Mason said, “A grown man (or woman) is like a densely-populated city, for something new to be built something old must come down.” Overlooking small offenses can feel like you’re giving something up. You are. But a smaller appetite for me makes room for bigger desires and a bigger we. Someone will ask: “What if my spouse takes advantage of my good nature?” And I say, everyone has a selective memory. Stop keeping score and keep small things small.
People don’t wake up one day and decide to have an affair. It happens after a thousand small rehearsals. Instead of rehearsing, remember. You’re in charge of your imagination. You can paint it 50 shades of grey or you can color it with memories of your own experiences. Someone said, “You can’t keep birds from flying overhead but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.” Remember, don’t rehearse.
Keep holding hands
Out of all the chatter on a given day, what percentage would you say is absorbed with decisions and logistics? Parents of young children, especially, can use up all their words just getting it done. Initiate small moments right in the middle of the chaos. Even a brief pause tells your beloved that the two of you is bigger than all of the madness.
Seeing your spouse as merely predictable says more about you than them. To quote Mike Mason again, “A person is the single-most limitless entity in creation.” Some of what you see in your spouse is guessable, but you’ll never get to the bottom of the mystery and complexity which is the person you married. Keep exploring. Keep courting.
What small moments make your marriage crackle? What keeps the foxes out of your vineyard?
“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Song of Solomon 2:15