By: Dr. Kevin Downing
Several years ago I counseled a man who was a professional bodybuilder and also a very strong Christian. He came to me because he wanted me to help him turn his marriage around. During the course of our conversation I presented to him a hypothetical question.
I asked, “If you had four days to work only on your athletic ability and physique do you know what you would do?” He nodded his head in confident affirmation, as he told me what he'd eat, how he'd workout, with the number of repetitions and so on. (It was more information than I needed!)
Then I asked him if he knew what he would do if he were to spend four days where he only worked on his faith. Sure enough he told me what passages of scripture he would read, what books he might go through and how he would pray. Once again he was quite confident. Then I ask him what he would do if he had four days to work only on his marriage. His confidence dropped and he shook his head. He said "I'd take her out to the movies". (And he was serious!)
Frankly, I was expecting a little bit more than that, maybe flowers or a dinner out at least! This man understood personal disciplines in the area of bodybuilding and faith, but he didn't know how to apply personal disciplines to his marriage.
More than likely you are familiar with athletic disciplines, scholastic disciplines, spiritual disciplines and, yes there are marital disciplines. Disciplines are non-negotiables (although they may vary from time to time). An Olympic athlete doesn't wake up and wonder if he'll work out - there's no debate - the Olympics are coming! So it is with those who purpose to build a long and lasting marriage. Personal disciplines help us move towards a desired skill, goal, or relationship. They require focus and effort, and often result in a treasure that money cannot buy.
For example, individuals who have spiritual disciplines exercise prayer, reading of Scripture, meditation on those readings, and some kind of fellowship, to name a few. I find that couples who have marital disciplines typically exercise and engage in some kind of emotional intimacy and closeness, scheduling of the calendars, financial stewardship, and some kind of inspirational readings or devotions with prayer. (There are of course many more we could add). How you may achieve this in your marriage may vary from other married people you know - but most of us touch on these basic elements in our time together.
Researchers show that couples who get together on a regular basis for a meeting (with just the two of them) for the purpose of building their marriage show a drastic reduction in typical divorce rates. Couples who start having a meeting like this and later on abandon it also have a strong reduction in divorce rates (but not quite as good as the couples who continue to meet). I guess there is strength in just knowing “how” to get together!
One evening my wife and I were at a local restaurant having our marriage meeting together. She brings a wall calendar from our kitchen and I have my little electronic PDA (so we can compare our calendars). A couple that I had been counseling walked by and looked at us with our calendars and said "Oh, you two are having your marriage meeting". And I said, "Yes we are". And we all had a good laugh together!
WHAT HAPPENS IN OUR MARRIAGE MEETINGS (and for many other couples)?
Take a look below…
Here are disciplines that some couples have found to be helpful (and these are just a few).
OF COURSE THE WEEKLY MEETING.
It is usually held outside of the home and includes several of the following disciplines. I find that most couples typically go out for dinner or breakfast. (My wife and I like our local Thai restaurant.)
Feeling Word List Check-in
Wow! You can have this meeting in less than an hour. If you watch your time you can even do it in a half hour. Weekly meetings need to be doable. If you end up closing of the restaurant at 2 a.m. you probably won't want to repeat the process the following week.
HERE'S SOME MORE MARRIAGE BUILDING DISCIPLINES...
Write your own! And have fun!
The material contained in this newsletter has been prepared by an independent third-party provider. The information in this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical or psychological conditions or diseases. The statements in this website have not been evaluated by the American Psychological Association or any other mental health organization or financial organization.
The information provided in this website is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician, other mental health care professional, or financial advisor. You should not use the information in this website for diagnosis or treatment of any health, mental health problem, prescription of any medication or other treatment, or financial advice.
Turning Point Counseling
1370 N. Brea Blvd., Ste. 245 ~ Fullerton ~ CA ~ 92835
Turning Point Counseling
Help for our family finances