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It was in a cold Valentine’s Day, in 1988 when I got engaged. This was the climax of our 12 month friendship and our six month dating relationship.
It was a Sunday morning. I asked (my then girlfriend) if she would go to church with me that day. She complied. Her parents did too.
But I thought I wouldn’t make things too obvious. So I invited her to breakfast before church. She thought that was weird, but she was happy to go since we never had enough time to spend together during the week.
I drove to the lake with a home-made breakfast in a bag. It was going to be a picnic style breakfast. Yeah, in the middle of the winter near the windy city of Chicago. Amazing the stunts we pull when we’re young.
Anyway, the lake was beautiful but the wind was too strong and cold. Well, all I had with me was a plate that we were supposed to eat out of, one glass and one bottle of non-alcoholic Champagne – to celebrate.
She helped me pull the “food” out of the bag and we placed it on our laps as we sat in the car overlooking the lake. What she thought was scrambled eggs in a bowl to her surprise were actually something else - a ring.
She cried and laughed some more, and well…. She said yes.
She smiled all day long (I think I did too) and made sure she showed off her ring to everyone and anything that had set of eyes.
With growling stomachs during church (since “breakfast” only consisted of a glass of non-alcoholic Champagne) we can’t remember what happened that day in church, but we do remember the rest of the day.
It was a lot of fun. We went to a nice restaurant for lunch and had a great rest of the day by ourselves as well as with friends and relatives.
It’s been 29 years since we got engaged. My, how time flies!
So far we’ve celebrated 28 wonderful years of marriage.
After all these years, this morning my wife asked me a bazaar question – that actually inspired me to write this article.
She said to me: “well, when we go out tomorrow for Valentine’s Day, will you propose to me again?” All with a smirk and a squint on her eyes.
I said: “well, no.” She laughed and said: “Why not.” To what I quickly and carefully (you know how that is) gave her the most manly response to her deep question: “Because, it’d be weird.”
We laughed, kissed and went on to our responsibilities for the day.
"We’ve been happily married because we’ve been productively engaged." Tweet This Quote
In that moment, as I was heading to my office, the thought hit me: “It wouldn’t be weird to be engaged again. In fact, we’ve been engaged for 28 years and that’s the reason we’ve made it this far in our marriage – successfully and joyfully.”
You might be thinking: “ok, now, have you been married or engaged for 28 years? Which one is it?” Well, both.
Here’s what I mean. We’ve been happily married because we’ve been productively engaged.
Here are 4 ways to stay productively engaged in your marriage for a powerful purposeful marriage experience.
1. Engage you spouse in conversations.
Sometimes we wonder why we lack communication in our marriage relationships.
In my experience as a husband and pastor (who has coached and counseled married couples over the years) I’ve learned that often times the husband tends to lack the desire of communicating. We just don’t seem to want to communicate.
I know that this is partly due to often speaking all day long at work – as some studies have indicated. Somehow we tend to see communication as “work.” That’s probably because it is – to some degree.
It’s very common for the couple to come together – say, for dinner – and she wants to tell her husband every detail of every event of the day.Yeah, she needs to talk and she wants to talk.It’s part of the human nature.
Meanwhile, all he wants to do is eat and watch the game or chill out for a little bit before retiring for the night. Needless to say, communication is very minimal and even non-existent at times.It’s mostly casual talk.
It is vital to take times to engage your spouse, once and again, in meaningful as well as casual conversations.
These moments will spark encouragement to continue to grow in your marriage, as well as learn to resolve problems together, grow together and impact the family together.
2. Engage your spouse in projects.
Be intentional and do projects together. Projects like gardening together, fixing the flowerbed. Installing Christmas lights. Have coffee together.
Go for walks, hiking, etc.
How about this one – together, engage in a charity project at your local church, or any charitable organization where both of you are doing something together to impact lives.
It’s a way to give together to a cause expecting nothing in return. These are seeds you’re sowing together which will eventually give you a tremendous harvest in the future.
3. Engage your spouse in dreaming about your future.
It’s so important to keep the marriage relationship alive but without vision it’ll just exist. Trust me – this is reality.
Just like a business that needs a vision and a mission, so does your marriage relationship. Without a strong vision, all you have is a mere wish or desire to have a marriage.
Don’t get me wrong, wishing and desiring to have a great marriage is vital, but that’s just the motivation to work at it. In order to work at it, you’ve got to have the tools to make it happen.
My wife and I decided long ago that we’d refuse to become roommates.We wanted to be a thriving couple. So to dream about our private lives, our finances, our children, our ministry, our businesses and everything else that involves us in life, we have created a road-map with a vision as our GPS to help us navigate through our marriage.
Every year we review the vision for our marriage that we implemented long ago. But we review it, renew it and rebuild it – every single year.
No, it hasn’t been a cakewalk down Broadway, but it’s been a successful stride toward our purpose. And we will do it the same exact way all over again.
Vision for marriage is important.So engage your spouse in vision building for your marriage.
This vision casting and implementation has worked so well for us and for our family that we decided to make a basic course available for free to help other couples navigate through their marriage path.
4. Engage your spouse on a date.
Really? Do I need to mention this? Yet, it’s important for married couples to stay engaged in a weekly (or monthly) date. It makes a huge difference in your marriage.
My friend, Jackie Bledsoe has a free book you can download called: “Date in a Box.”It’s a great resource to have.He has great tips on having date nights with your spouse.I recommend it.
One of the many things that has also worked very effectively for my wife and I is our daily Coffee Dates.
So I wrote a small book about it to share with you how to enhance your marriage over a simple cup of coffee. Yes, daily dates. Imagine that!
We also have weekly or monthly dates depending on our schedules, etc.
It’s vitally important to stay engaged in your marriage.
Sure, I used my engagement experience as a play on words – sort of. But truth is, when you get engaged with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you’ve made a commitment to stay true to each other and work towards making a life together.
Sadly, most couples spend a ton of time and a ton of money preparing for their wedding day/night, but hardly any time at all preparing for the rest of their married life. That’s why I’ll be putting together a premarital course, which I’m ecstatic about. But that’s for the future.
Meanwhile, stay engaged with your spouse and go towards your destiny in your marriage.
Add a comment below: How else can you be engaged to your spouse?