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Favorite Marriage Resources | Date Nights vs. Connection

“The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies,
but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls,
the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship,
and the more real moments you will experience together.”

(Barbara De Angelis)

c_k_anniversary_2.jpg
A few months ago I polled followers and friends on IG asking what part of "the stuff I share" most interested them. I was surprised but encouraged that the overwhelming response was "Marriage" and "Parenting" topics! I've gradually decided to share the resources and topics that have most shaped and encouraged our vision for and daily life of marriage. We love to learn and I am almost constantly little tid-bits here or there that help strengthen us. Whether you're single, happily married, or 'unhappily' married, I believe these principals are good, true, and beautiful and I pray even one of them can help increase your joy and love. If you're just joining me now, here are all previous Marriage Resource Posts for easy navigating:

1. The Big Three ("This Is Us," anyone?)
2. Personality Tests 
3. Improving Communication
4. Date Night vs. Connection

 

DATE NIGHT VS. CONNECTION

You Don't Need A Date Night / Article By Tim Challies

 "They say that you need to have a regular date night—weekly, preferably—and that this is a key, maybe even the key, to a healthy marriage. Some of them go farther still and say that you don’t only need a date night, but the two of you need to get away together at least once or twice every year. How else can your marriage thrive?" (Tim Challies)

"Scraping out a Date Night once every three months isn’t going to cut it. You need to make time on a regular and consistent basis to enjoy one another’s company." (Heart and Soul of Date Night)

“If you want to keep your marriage alive, you must, must, must make a date night once a week."  (Lyss Stern)

"After our relationship with God, the marriage relationship should be a main priority. The needs and desires of our children can easily become totally consuming. Without adding a date night to our calendar, it just simply wouldn’t happen." (In Defense of Date Night)

Alright. Tender topic here! Hahah. I tread carefully and understandingly (at least I aim to!). This article is controversial. Before I sound too crazy, let me state clearly: This is to give grace, not guilt. To bring freedom, not shame.

Second, from scripture, study, personal experience, and others experience, the way we would understand "the key to marriage" is: connection. Our intimate relationship in marriage needs connection.  If "connection" is a tool box, then date nights are a tool inside it. One way to experience connection. But date nights are not the hammer or screw-driver... and you can build very much, very well, with even the simplest tools. Be encouraged if date night isn't a common tool used right now in your life. Here's Tim Challies:

"Marriage is made up of date nights and romantic weekends. But far more it is made up of those million mundane little moments. More than it is dancing and candlelight and bed and breakfasts, it is doing chores together, driving to church together, watching a miniseries together, eating meals together. It has been my experience that the more we enjoy those ordinary moments and the more we find satisfaction and significance in them, the less we need or even desire those extraordinary occasions."

It's very hard to read a marriage blog post or book, hear a teaching, or talk to a mentor who isn't strongly advocating for consistent, intentional date nights. So who am I? Married five years, with no degree, and only two little kids? Hmmm, okay, sugar. Tell us HOW MARRIAGE WORKS. I don't know. I don't know what our marriage will be in ten, or twenty, or fifty years. I know what we hope for, I know what we believe, I know what we've had for a few years now, I know what we want.

And I know that the foundation of our communication, closeness, laughter, and taking-our-masks-off isn't dependent on going away for a date. We do go on dates! We love dates! They seem to only get better as we appreciate each other, food, and atmosphere even more! But we do not go on dates weekly, or even "consistently" monthly. We go when it works out to. Sometimes he plans it, sometimes I do. Sometimes I ask him to plan it. Sometimes it's spontaneous. But I say this with complete sincerity: I feel seen, loved, known, and like I've spent time with him on a daily basis (aside from the *extremely* rare day where work takes us opposite directions from wake-up to bed-time. But this happens probably a few times a year!). 

We are pro-date. We are pro-getaway. We are pro-"Come-Away-With-Me-My-Love!" Useful, refreshing, special tools in our marriage tool box. NEVER a bad time, only sweet and happy, and for us, usually full of laughter and (going away overnight) sleep! A time to rest together; to rest in each other. BUT. My concern is when date night or getaway is pushed as THE BEST or THE ONLY way to maintain deep connection. First off: the Bible doesn't say so. The Bible has principals to apply, but the practice is left to the freedom and discretion of the couple. Second: date night/etc may be the best way to maintain connection for some couples, but it's untrue to suggest (rather forcefully) that all couples NEED this for a happy marriage. Third: when something becomes obligation it can often lose it's joy. Is doing the "right thing" for wrong/forced reasons better than doing nothing? Eh, that's a conversation to have... but with all the effort these well-meaning resources encourage couples to have that date night! (specific) I would instead offer the advice to live connectedly! (broad)

I quoted an author above who, earlier in her article, defined date night as "having intentional time with your spouse (without your children)." She then said plainly that the needs of their kids becomes so consuming that if they didn't put time on the calendar they would not have intentional time together. I'll accept her account of their life as the truth for them, but it doesn't HAVE to be true for all couples, and it isn't true for Caleb and I. In fact, we have spent much effort and engagement to live a life of intentional connection every single day. We look for it.
(And, of course we do this better on some days than others. Of course we are real people. Of course we get tired, overwhelmed, down, flustered, and not-as-intentional. Of course. OF COURSE. But this is our goal, and how we purpose to spend our energy and find our connection.)

I often bring the kids and drive with him to work for jobs over an hour away, just so we can sit in the car and talk during his drives and we can be together. Times this doesn't work out we often spend one of his long drives on the phone catching up. When he worked an hour away every day, he'd call on his way home nearly night so we could get a head start on talking... he'd often walk in the door phone in hand, and we'd hang up, and keep going right where we left off. Now that he works close enough by that he can (which was an intentional choice!) he often stops in between events to literally just hug and kiss each of us (this week he truly had 120 seconds before he had to pull back out of the driveway and head to his next job). When he did construction I'd often drive to him so we could eat together on his lunch break. We roadtrip on purpose so we have that time in the car to talk. We go for walks together frequently. Multiple times a week I'll be working in one room, and he in another... and he'll say "Come be with me!" or he'll bring his stuff beside me. I work for his business now! Our "romantic tradition" is to have a cheese board and wine/something-of-the-sort when the kids are in bed (of course not every night, but it's "our special thing" a few times a month). Caleb has made a point to see what we had in the fridge before going to work, and grabbing the salami or grapes or whatever we don't have on his way home. We try to remember the funny or weird or interesting interactions that happen while we're apart so we can fill the other in when we're reunited. We talk in bed usually until one of us is asleep, toe to toe. He rubs my feet almost every day. We have lots of, uh, escapades ;) We watch shows together so we can talk about them (recently: Handmaid's Tale, The Path, and, the best, The Office). Last year we did a "Romance Month" where we decided to do one clearly, intentionally, out-of-the-ordinary romantic gesture every day for a month (a hidden note, a particularly drippy text, a surprise, a passionate kiss in public, dancing, four-minutes-of-eye-contact, etc). I'll send him podcasts I listened to and liked (or didn't!) so that he can listen and we can reference it or hash it out. A lot of effort and "wasted time" for some, but this is our way of intention. Our way of staying connected despite the fullness of life, and being willing to sacrifice some things to have "this" instead. 

You and your husband aren't Caleb and I. You'll connect differently than we do. You'll connect differently than that pastor and his wife. Or that author and her husband. Or your friends. We have friends who swear by their weekly date night and it is absolutely untouchable for them and has been instrumental in their closeness - sweet! Enjoy! And we have friends who have only been on a handful of dates in their years-long marriages, and they're some of the most deeply connected people we've ever met. Sweet! Enjoy! Research yourselves, explore each other, decide how you want to live connected, which tools you'll use. And don't feel guilty or doomed to failure if getting out once a week or twice a month isn't something happening in your life (for all the many reasons it might not!) or something you even need for closeness. There are many ways. The box is heavy with tools. Have no shame and enjoy each other. 


The purpose is joy, closeness, and faithfulness. I pray somewhere in here even one line or thought can contribute to yours! To see more, click here: Favorite Marriage Resources

Favorite Marriage Resources | Improving Communication

“I believe that words are strong,
that they can overwhelm what we fear
when fear seems more awful than life is good.”

(Andrew Solomon)

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A few months ago I polled followers and friends on IG asking what part of "the stuff I share" most interested them. I was surprised but encouraged that the overwhelming response was "Marriage" and "Parenting" topics! I've gradually decided to share the resources and topics that have most shaped and encouraged our vision for and daily life of marriage. We love to learn and I am almost constantly little tid-bits here or there that help strengthen us. Whether you're single, happily married, or 'unhappily' married, I believe these principals are good, true, and beautiful and I pray even one of them can help increase your joy and love. If you're just joining me now, here are all previous Marriage Resource Posts for easy navigating:

1. The Big Three ("This Is Us," anyone?)
2. Personality Tests 
3. Improving Communication
4. Date Night vs. Connection

IMPROVING COMMUNICATION

These are a bit "random" but all have been extremely valuable for us in learning how to (*famous topic for marriage*) communicate well together! All of these prompted little light bulbs to flicker on for on or both of us at one point, and since then we reference concepts in these resources frequently! May they be of benefit to you too.

Scout vs. Soldier Mindset / Article by Julia Galef

“Scout Mindset: the drive not to make one idea win or another lose, but to see what’s there as honestly and accurately as you can even if it’s not pretty, convenient or pleasant.

The scout’s job is not to attack or defend; it’s to understand. The scout is the one going out, mapping the terrain, identifying potential obstacles. Above all, the scout wants to know what’s really out there as accurately as possible."


Obviously, as the aforementioned Devil's Advocate I am, I love this. BUT part of what I love about this is the challenge for me ("not just try to win"). Caleb loves it for the empowerment it gives to seeking and seeing the truth, not just what is "happy" or "what we wish were true." Being scouts for each other, and the situations that cross our life, has been one of the most tricky but beautiful parts of our relationship in my opinion. Sometimes the truth is uuuuugggly, but sharing it, tackling it, and moving into freedom with it is marvelous. And also! Sometimes the truth is dazzling, but we may have missed it without each other's help!

"Scouts also have different values. They’re more likely to say they think it’s virtuous to test their own beliefs, and they’re less likely to say that someone who changes her mind seems weak. And, above all, scouts are grounded, which means their self-worth as a person isn’t tied to how right or wrong they are about any particular topic. For example, they can believe that capital punishment works and if studies come out that show it doesn’t, they can say, 'Looks like I might be wrong. Doesn’t mean I’m bad or stupid.'"

"Motivated Reasoning" - "When the referee judges your team has committed a foul, for example, you’re probably highly motivated to find reasons why he’s wrong. But if he judges that the other team committed a foul — that’s a good call."

"What’s most scary to me about motivated reasoning or soldier mindset is just how unconscious it is. We can think we’re being objective and fair-minded and still wind up ruining [things]."

Other Favorite "Communication" Resources:

I Grew Up In Westboro Baptist. Here's Why I Left (The Importance of Difficult Conversations and How To Have Them) / TedTalk by Megan Phelps-Roper

  1. Don’t assume bad intent. Assuming ill motives almost instantly cuts us off from understanding why someone does and believes as they do. 

  2. Ask questions. When  engage people across ideological divides asking questions helps us map disconnect from our differing points of view. That’s important because we can’t present effective arguments if we don’t understand where the other side is actually coming from. And because it gives them an opportunity to point out flaws in our positions. But asking questions serves another purpose: it signals to someone they’re being heard.

  3. Stay Calm. I used to think my rightness justified my rudeness. My friends didn’t do away with their beliefs or principals, only their scorn.

  4. Make the argument. This might seem obvious, but one side effect of having strong beliefs is that we sometimes assume that the value of our position is or should be obvious and self-evident. That we shouldn’t have to defend our positions, because they are so clearly good and right so if someone doesn’t get it, that’s their problem! Not my job to educate them! If we want change, we have to make the case for it.

The Anatomy of Trust / Speech by Brene Brown
 

"Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else. Distrust is what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you."

Favorite teaching on trust, ever. It's important to remember that trust is not love. Love is unconditional, but trust is not... trust is earned and based on conditions. Listening to this helped me have a bigger, clear view of what it means to trust God. It also encouraged me because there are parts of this I do very well, but it also stung a little because there are points in this I need to work on. But what helpful, true words here and awfully meaningful thing to share the most-and-best with Caleb.

"B-R-A-V-I-N-G

B - Boundaries: I trust you if you're clear about your boundaries, and you hold them, and you're clear about my boundaries and you respect them.

R - Reliability: I can only trust you if you do what you say you're going to... and not only once.

A - Accountability: I can only trust you if when you make a mistake you are willing to own it, apologize for it, and make amends. AND I can only trust you if when I make a mistake I am allowed to own it, apologize for it, and make amends. 

V - Vault: What I share with you you will hold in confidence, what you share with me I will hold in confidence, AND what others share with you you don't share with me. ("A lot of times we share things that are not ours to share as a way to hotwire connection with a friend. Our closeness is built on talking badly about other people. You know what I call that? Common Enemy Intimacy.")

I - Integrity: It's choosing courage over comfort, choosing what's right over what's fun, fast or easy, and choosing your values over professing your values.

N - Non-Judgement: I can fall apart, struggle, and ask for help, without being judged by you. And you can fall apart, struggle, and ask for help without being judged by me. 

G - Generosity: You can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors... and then check in with me. So if I screw up, say something, forget something you will make a generous assumption."

The Art of Asking / TedTalk by Amanda Palmer (the book too!)

Be forewarned: Amanda is a wild (WILD) spirit. Fascinating person to learn about and learn from, agree with and disagree with. But how she was able to breakdown the power of asking for help has been life-changing for me. And one of the central anchors in our marriage is to ask for what you want or need, don't assume, "just do it yourself!" or make the other guess. Asking 'risks' disappointment, a "no," and feel ashamed. But I'm a believer in the importance of asking directly, the trust it builds, and connection opportunity it provides. 

"By asking, I'd connected with them. And when you connect, people want to help you."
"Asking expresses your trust."
"When you openly, radically trust people, they become your allies, your family. Sometimes people will prove themselves untrustworthy. When that happens the correct response is not '****! I knew I couldn't trust anyone!' The correct response is 'Eh, some people just suck. Moving right along.'" 

Nueroscience and Happiness / article by Eric Barker

Just read it!


The purpose is joy, closeness, and faithfulness. I pray somewhere in here even one line or thought can contribute to yours! To see more, click here: Favorite Marriage Resources

Favorite Marriage Resources | Personality Tests

“It is quite clear that between love and understanding there is a very close link...
He who loves understands, and he who understands loves.
One who feels understood feels loved,
and one who feels loved feels sure of being understood.”

(Paul Tournier)

c_k_anniversary_1.jpg
A few months ago I polled followers and friends on IG asking what part of "the stuff I share" most interested them. I was surprised but encouraged that the overwhelming response was "Marriage" and "Parenting" topics! I've gradually decided to share the resources and topics that have most shaped and encouraged our vision for and daily life of marriage. We love to learn and I am almost constantly little tid-bits here or there that help strengthen us. Whether you're single, happily married, or 'unhappily' married, I believe these principals are good, true, and beautiful and I pray even one of them can help increase your joy and love. If you're just joining me now, here are all previous Marriage Resource Posts for easy navigating:

1. The Big Three ("This Is Us," anyone?)
2. Personality Tests 
3. Improving Communication
4. Date Night vs. Connection


PERSONALITY TESTS
(Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, Love Languages, etc)

Why I Don't Like Personality Tests/Labels: I don't like how they can give people an excuse for a character flaw because "that's just how I am!" Like somehow we are unable to develop, change, grow, or become more. I don't like how they're limited (no one is all or not at all *something*). I don't like how they can make one assume about another: "Oh, she's a feeler... that's why." instead of getting to know a real person, you get to know a description. 

Why I Do Like Personality Tests/Labels: I think they can give prompts, spark insight, and provide words to help understand yourself and people you love. So, in marriage, this has been delightful for us. I've always been called "argumentative" and "someone who has to stir the pot." For some people, this way I am makes it difficult for us to connect and be close, but for Caleb, it was what drew him to me. THEN, when we read about the "ENTP Personality Type" or "Type 8" personality type, and discover that there are large swaths of people who not only think and interact with the world through being devil's advocate, but also show love and care by trying to understand (and be able to defend and "put themselves in the shoes..." from all sides) it bridges connection. 

Now, since I crave "debate" and "back-and-forth-hashing" does it mean it's my right to impose it on people however, and whenever, over whatever, I want? Nope. I have to learn how to temper my sparring, and choose other forms of communication that are more loving to others. But in the meantime, Caleb understands (as my primary, most-intimate person) that there is nothing more exhilarating or "welcoming" for me than to hear someone respond to what I've said with: "Hmmm, I see what you're saying, but what about this? Hm?" It's like fireworks and hoopla and dopamine. "Yesssss! They want to talk! They want to share their ideas and hear mine! Yesssss!" So instead of conversations turning into actual fights or hurts for us  because of misunderstanding, the very far majority of the time they turn into fascinating points of connection because he gets and sees this very real part of me that is not the case for plenty of others. 

I also like how personality tests can help elaborate on how the quality you possess has it's positive sides, as well as negative sides. It helps me very much to understand that! I think, if used well, personality tests can aid in two people "knowing and seeing" each other. 

A relative once told us a story about their pre-marital counseling. They were asked to write down a series of answers to questions, privately, and then were to review their answers with the counselor together. They got to the question of 'What size family do you want to have: small or big?' One answered 'small.' The other answered 'big.' When they revealed their answers out loud they were both shocked, and turned to the other! 'What! I thought we agreed: three kids...' 'I know! Three kids is a big family!' 'Oh. Haha. I think of three kids as a small family!'  Though they were saying the same thing, they had completely different reasons for and ways of saying it. I feel like this happens often amongst human beings ;) But learning nuances and bits of understanding can give such context for living life with someone! And helps us notice and appreciate their gestures of love, and to be well-suited to pour love on them.

  • "What's wrong? You're being so quiet!" "Nothing! I just like being quiet sometimes!"
  • "Man, what happened? This is such a mess! Are you stressed?" "Oh, no! I'm so happy! I made something!"
  • "You're bored aren't you?" "Not at all, I'm genuinely content!"
  • "Why do you always want to be with other people? Aren't you happy being with me?" "So happy! Makes me so pumped to go out and connect with other people! I love being connected!"
  • "Are you mad at me?" "No, I'm just exhausted!"

In a world that can seem hell-bent on emphasizing stereotypical differences in "men and women!" I believe it's essential to set aside preconceived notions and add to your set of experiences, and learn this person as they are. I don't think it's nearly as impossible or goofy as some might act. 


The purpose is joy, closeness, and faithfulness. I pray somewhere in here even one line or thought can contribute to yours! To see more, click here: Favorite Marriage Resources

Favorite Marriage Resources | If You Only Read One Post

"I know what we were trying to stand for, and what I believe we did stand for:
the possibility that among the worlds wars and sufferings
two people could love each other for a long time,
until death and beyond,
and could make a place for each other that would be a part of their love..."

(Wendell Berry)

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If you only read one "marriage resource post" I share, this one would be the most-important overall to us. You can get into the dicey details of "Should we take I-70 or highway 4?" "Well, what time of day are we traveling, and...[etc]." You have to know where you're going first. Agreeing on the destination, will dramatically and crucially inform the route to take and how to take it! So, these three resources would be our "Big Three!" To see more completely solid ones, click here: Favorite Marriage Resources

A few months ago I polled followers and friends on IG asking what part of "the stuff I share" most interested them. I was surprised but encouraged that the overwhelming response was "Marriage" and "Parenting" topics!

But then I felt, eh, unqualified.

A wife of five years, and a mother of four, has no place to be sharing advice or tips or ponderings on these things... right?? I don't know. I really don't! I can make a case for both sides.

I also don't know if "what we think" is right. I think it's good; worthwhile. Only problem is I am hindered by time. I can't fast-forward 50 years and find out if our marriage experiment will work out as our theory predicts. All we can do is "do the best we can, until we know better. And when we know better, do better." Receiving this gift from the Father of Lights, treasuring it in our hearts, giving not only the gospel of our God to each other but our very selves, connecting by cords of kindness and bands of love. We're trying. But we're speaking closer to "Once upon a time" than "And they lived happily ever after."

We'll see if in a few decades we just shake our heads at our simplistic, naive ideas. However, while I think absolute truth is narrow, I don't think it's elusive. I think we are capable of knowing what is really good. And it's impossible for Caleb and I to look much further than, or at least start at, deep, unconditional, welcoming, effusive, intimate relationship... as that is what we've been given in Christ, with Christ.

This type of posting "makes me feel like a fraud" ("Who do you think you are??"), makes me worry if I'll be perceived as overly-confident or arrogant, makes me wonder if I AM over-confident or arrogant, and is just easier to keep tucked away for ourselves to fiddle and fool around with. But I do feel a, um, a bit of an ache to try to help... to try to share a bit of good, if only in a plastic fold-down-top snack bag (you know, the cheap kind). If anyone could be helped, or envisioned, or blessed, I would be so grateful. 

I also want to mention that everything I'm sharing is by no means Morris Marriage Counseling! Not that anyone couldn't find care or hope here, but I know my place... and marriage is not simple, especially a hurting one. It is much easier to build from the ground up than it is to do full-scale renovations. We are young. We are just building the first time. I understand that, and am probably mostly speaking to people who aren't married, who are soon to be married, or who are newly married... because that's just where we are too. 

Alright. Enough caveats. Our gigantic galactic jump into Covenant Outer Space consists primarily of these principals (along with three more tomorrow, since this got very long very fast). These, or thoughts/conversations just like these, are what we brought before the Lord, and decided together, would be how our marriage worked and what we would try to do. Especially since it all seemed to be such a natural outflow of our "oh-so-in-love" early days, that we wanted to remain, and our understanding of scripture and how Love is meant to be experienced right up close, in the flesh.

1. Marriage Bank Account Part 1 and Part Two / Articles by Brett and Kate McKay
 

We enjoy the second part better than the first, but overall they fit together nicely. Part 1 sets the stage, and takes on a few myths (here's an example):

Myth #3: Marital unhappiness is created by spouses having unrealistically high expectations of each other/marriage in general. Truth: High expectations are good for your marriage. Yet how popular is this idea these days? You hear it all the time. According to its espousers, couples are unhappy because the wife grew up on rom-com fantasies, and even the husband thinks marriage is going to be a pretty smooth ride. “Get real!” these folks say. “Marriage is hard! Everyone marries the wrong person, and then just has to make the best of it. Better to lower your expectations and accept this fact, then to get your hopes up and be disillusioned.” Such an approach to marriage certainly has that satisfying tough-guy-realist thing going for it, but it turns out not to be based on reality at all.

It goes on to quote Gottman (which happens frequently between the two articles) whose research has brought him to this "happiness ratio"... 5:1: "A couple that has at least five times more positive interactions than negative ones will ultimately succeed."

The second article goes into more detail: 

Create A Marriage Culture: A culture consists of shared norms, customs, values, rituals, symbols, goals, stories, and so on. Together, such elements contribute to the sense of shared meaning that not only strengthens societies, but personal relationships as well. Establish traditions. Be nostalgic. Celebrate the 'myths' of your love.

Stay Connected: Practice what Gottman calls “attunement.” Keep track of the details of each other’s inner and outer worlds — your respective doubts, dreams, worries, goals, frustrations, etc. It’s about engaging in conversation, regularly and deeply. It’s a continual process of turning towards each other, so that as you and your partner grow, you can better grow together.

Express Regular, Effusive Appreciation: There’s no better grease in the gears of love than gratitude. Remember, romantic love isn’t so mysterious; it’s based on the fulfillment of basic human needs, one of the strongest of which is simply to be recognized and appreciated. Truly, spouses are willing to put up with a lot more guff and foibles from their partner, when that partner regularly expresses the fact they find them worthy, admirable, and indispensable. But expressing appreciation doesn’t just benefit your partner — it also reminds you of what you love about your spouse, reawakening that feeling of being lucky to be married to them. The regular exchange of gratitude ultimately benefits both parties and your relationship as a whole, as strengthening your admiration and fondness for one another prevents the creep of one of the biggest relationship slayers of them all: contempt.

I'll stop there because you just need to go read the whole thing. 


- Gottman Institute Research I've read other articles by Gottman, especially the ones about "turning to" each other when one makes "a bid for connection." We thoroughly enjoy them all!

2. A Severe Mercy / Book by Sheldon Vanauken
 

Oh this book. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I can't believe I didn't get to read it sooner in life. I'll be re-reading it forever.

You have to prepare for it, in a way. Then again, maybe it's best to just fling up the door and be windswept. A brief summary: this is the story of Sheldon and his wife, Davy. Their love, their loss. And they just so happened to have created a personal relationship with CS Lewis, and about a dozen of his personal letters to the Vaunakens are included. That's all I'll say on the storyline front!

But as far as "marriage and love principals" go, Caleb and I had prickly chills, jaws on the floor, and "so much to say!!" as we read, particularly their early love story. We didn't read this until being married for four years, but some of the conversations re-told here were word-for-word ones we'd had ourselves half a decade earlier! And other things were new thoughts, or new ways of saying something, but resonated deeply. This was not only extremely encouraging to us, but a blissfully impactful reminder to "stay the course." (Also, read the whole book to see this get tested and lived out... it's a RICH story.)

Here's an example:

"We talked deeply about justice between lovers and about how to make love endure. What emerged from our talk was nothing less, we believed, than the central 'secret' of enduring love: sharing.

'Look,' we said, 'what is it that draws two people into closeness and love? Of course there's the mystery of attraction, but beyond that it's the things they share. We both love strawberries and ships and collies and poems and all beauty, and all those things bind us together. Those sharings just happened to be; but what we must do now is share everything. Everything! If one likes anything, there must be something to like in it - and the other one must find it.

That way we shall create a thousand strands, great and small, that will link us together. Then we shall be so close that it would be impossible - unthinkable! - for either of us to suppose that we could recreate such closeness anywhere else. And our trust in each other will not only be based on love and loyalty but on the fact of a thousand sharings - a thousand strands twisted into something unbreakable.'

Our enthusiasm grew as we talked. Total sharing, we felt, was the ultimate secret of a love that would last forever. And of course we could learn to like anything if we wanted to. Through sharing we would not only make a bond of incredible friendship, but through sharing we would keep the magic of inloveness. And with every year, more and more depth. We would become as close as two humans could become- closer, perhaps than any two people had ever been. Whatever storms might come, whatever changes the years may bring, there would be the bedrock closeness of all our sharing."

3. The Holiness of Happy Lovers Sermon / By Don Shorey

There is no replacement for being able spend in-person time with "mentors and close friends," but this sermon a pretty good start. We've learned from and connected with the whole Shorey-and-extended family so deeply, and probably one of the "most important ways" was the startling report, personal witnessing of, and teaching on marriage. 

Even the outline of this sermon I love!

II. The Context of Intoxicating Romance
A. Constant Conversation
B. Called - Apart Connection “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
C. Crafted Communication

III. The Climate of Intoxicating Romance
A. Deep Affection
B. Devoted (even distracted) Attention
Fly Bold Banners!


Here's a quick quote from the sermon:

"If we don’t know each other as husbands and wives, as families, as friends, if we don’t actually spend time learning about each other - not by design but by volume! - none of the good that we are truly seeking will flourish. We must reconnect conversational life. I’m not trying to put out there some unreachable expectation! I’m simply saying: in whatever ways we can we must restore conversation. We must restore dialogue. And we must start first and foremost in the lives of our marriages.

We are called in marriage to live a lifestyle of interaction. In a sense our whole lives are researching each other. Knowing each other a little better in the subtleties of passing conversation, not just in 'planned times of discussion!' or special set-apart moments. We can’t just jump, as so often happens in teaching toward couples, to special occasions, and special events, and date nights, and and and! We need to be together. Whenever possible. Life is full! But we need to be together, and talk together, and engage together. I understand why the pull is to spend 'quality time vs quantity time' because life is so full… but the reality is, there’s no quality that replaces quantity. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the times we have as good as we can! It doesn’t mean who don’t have the quantity be as quality as possible! But the fact is, for the intimate relationships in our lives: we need to live with each other."

- The Gift of Conversation & The Growth of Conversation

These two podcasts, recorded six or seven years ago, have been staples for Caleb and I! A part of the Enjoying Grace collection, and more beautiful discussion on... discussion!

"Measured conversation can be very vain, but humility is found in speaking freely."

"Words are God things. They came from Him, He identifies His Son as 'The Word.' But I think what we've lost is making words mesmerizing. Part of that is giving yourself to words, by joining in free flowing conversation. We gather in a room, words escape, and we know something more about the soul. Wow!"

For one of us "free flowing conversation" is like an enormous steam train, slowly chugga chugga chug, going from still to motion, gaining speed with time... before belting through the quiet countrysides at a pulsing pace.

The other one is more like a kid on a tricycle at the top of a steep, paved hill... who is pushed down fast to start! Gains speed even still! and then eventually slows down to a reflective, pondering dialogue pace by the end of the ride. 

But these concepts of conversation are crucial for us both. Conversation isn't just listening or is it just talking. (Our extreme tendencies). Sharing together, listening, being humble enough to throw out some words and thoughts that others can now evaluate and respond to, going back and forth, hearing someone out, laughing quickly (mostly at yourself), finding out a little more about each other, even if the topic is one that has been hashed out dozens of times before, learning from each other, noticing each other, etc IS one of the most important parts of our existence, in our opinion. And these teachings and thoughts have really given those beliefs legs!
 

Part 2 - Tomorrow!