We have been married now for 40 years! As we have learned to walk with God in the Spirit and experience His Exceptional Marriage available for every one of His children, we share tips that will make a difference in your marriage – may you receive it and give it away!!
Marriage Tip Two: Dating and Dreaming
(For singles, use a friend for these exercises in lieu of not having a spouse)
Psalm 37:1 - 8 tells us that if: we trust in HIM, feed on His Faithfulness & dwell in the land (Abide in the Word and in the Vine) and delight ourselves in him (walk with HIM in intimacy and follow where He leads us), He will give us the desires of our heart. God has also spoken to us in Genesis 2: 24 - 25 that the 2 persons of a couple shall become “One”. Therefore, by definition, God wants to bring together the desires of our hearts as a couple into oneness where we are experiencing the desires of our hearts together as a couple.
Since the desires of our hearts are in our heart (our soul – the seat of our will, intellect, emotions, personalities, etc), it is important to express them to each other – asking God to fulfill what He promises – to give to us (deliver to, make happen) the desires of our hearts. One of the most wonderful things to do while you are dating (which we recommend be weekly, doing things that you enjoy together, and not using this time to solve problems or debate issues) is to openly share together what truly are the desires of your heart. Therefore, while you are out enjoying your dates, develop a habit of open discussing the desires of your heart. One effective way of carrying this out is for each person to first write down in your journal, what are your current desires of your heart. It is important to not censor these in any way – do not evaluate whether there religious enough, or spiritual enough, or holy enough, but rather just what are they – they are in your heart so let them come out. List down as many as you can think of - and be as specific as you can – just what they are. For example, if one of your desires is to have a home on a lake in the mountains, then write that down. After each person has written down the desires of your heart, then come together on your date night and begin to share the list. This can and should take place over several dates – For each listed thought, begin to discuss the reasons for this particular thought - what is so interesting and stimulating in your heart about this item? What does it look like to you? Why is this important to you? What do you feel and think about his? What does this touch in your soul that you believe is why God has put this in your heart. Do not fret if it is a self centered desire – as you discuss it, God will give you revelation about this desire and how is refining it for what is truly a desire of your heart. For example, you write down that you want a new Mercedes auto. As you discuss this, you receive the revelation that you just want a safe car that is comfortable, has a good sound system, and gets good gas mileage. As you both then pray for this, you realize that it does not require a Mercedes but perhaps a good used car that meets the real desire of your heart regarding transportation. Do not fret or try to minimize what is on your heart – just enjoy dialoguing together and let God shape the desire with deeper understanding into your soul. An interesting thing happens – as you do this together, you gain this deeper understanding of your spouse’s soul and the true reasons for these desires. You will find that many of your desires are common and can be pursued together.
The next thing to consider would be – “Can currently act on any of the desires”. For example, one of the desires of my heart has been to attend a professional baseball game this summer. Linda, though not one of her desires, is willing to go out on one of our date nights to a baseball game – having discussed it on one of our dates; she understands what it means to me - not just to attend one, but rather to experience it in a more full way, particularly since I played baseball in my childhood. We can act on that desire.
Other desires are not achievable by yourself, but rather need to have God give them to you. Linda and I had written 100 things in life that we would like to experience and then had put it in a file. We had forgotten about it until 20 years later - when were cleaning out my desk to move into our new retreat house - Living Waters - I found the file. Interesting enough 54 of the 100 things have been fulfilled with several more on its way. We were amazed to see how God fulfilled so many of the true desires of our heart, which included such things as our children and grandchildren knowing Christ, experiencing family holidays together in grand places, doing marriage retreats in European castles, having a private meeting in the White House (we have had several) – all truly remarkable. None of these we neither pursued on our own nor could arrange any of them on our own – but rather had to be invited through God’s work, orchestrating it all – and certainly thrilling moments for us. Thus, as you write these down, continue to pray that God orchestrate His plan and timing of giving you the desires of your heart (will take a lifetime) – do not work overtime to make things happen (as you realize how grand they are, you cannot make them happen anyway) – just pray together in asking God to fill them over the course of your life – and be excited together as you see things come together.
So, during your dating time, dream big! Look forward to communicate what's on your heart and what God wants to bring to you that provides a sense of hope and excitement into the marriage and into your family. You will see your enthusiasm increase for talking to each other and opening up to each other - drawing you into a deeper intimacy with each other and with God. Enjoy your dreaming.
Marriage Tip One
To keep the marriage romance alive, Linda and I go out on dates at least once per week. Getting away from our normal environment and patterns is important to open up our hearts, our communications, and our creativity together. We do not have any agendas nor do we use our “dating” time to work through issues or even process decisions – we just have fun, do things that are enjoyable and full of adventure. Often, we will trade off planning our date, and surprising each other with our plans on that day or evening. No matter what, we go with no comments about the venue. It matters not where we go, we just love being together. Examples are playing 9 holes of golf together; shopping (window shopping) at a boutique area in a nearby city that we have not visited before; road trip up into the mountains and hiking on new trails; romantic dinner at a new restaurant, etc. Key is to keep the romance alive with just being together and enjoying all that brought us together in the first place – and we have been married 40 years!! – our 41st is this month. We have always made this a priority, regardless of kids, grandkids, work, etc. What could be better!!