January 23, 2010

Making Marriage a Priority

Written By Cary Schmidt

A month ago, Dana and I crossed our 20-year anniversary together. With the busyness of the Christmas season, we waited until this past week to get some time away. The Lord allowed us to spend five days on the central California coast (an area we haven’t visited much in the last decade). I had forgotten how beautiful it was.

In summary—it rained all week long—and we loved every moment together. God gave us an especially memorable afternoon of sunlight when we were able to walk along some ocean cliffs, enjoy the giant waves, watch the sunset, and savor the unspoiled coastline. It was one of the most memorable days of our married life.

Tonight, we were cherishing the memories, looking at some pictures (some posted on this site), and talking about how much we enjoyed spending the last five days together. I laughed and told her she was my BFF! Then something caught my attention. All around our bedroom are mementos of 20 years of trips like this—little candles, sea shells, and keepsakes we’ve used to decorate our room to remind us of these special times.

At least once (and often twice) per year we have retreated together for a few days. Early in our marriage, we read somewhere that this was wise to do, and so we made it a priority. It has never been about spending a lot of money. It’s usually just a short break. But oh how valuable and blessed these times have been.

These trips must be important, because every time we’ve planned one, every possible interruption comes up to prevent it from happening. These retreats are never easy to make happen. We feel guilty for leaving the kids. We feel bad for being away from ministry. We wonder if it’s the right time or if we can afford it. We wrestle with missing a basketball game or a church event. We nearly talk ourselves out of it every time.

But, in the end, marriage wins. Marriage gets the priority. If our marriage stays strong, our kids win, our ministry wins, and everything else is better off.

Having just finished another one of these special trips, I encourage you to make your marriage a priority. Say no to every reason “not to”—and just say yes to becoming best friends. When I married Dana, it wasn’t because I needed a helpmeet, a cook, a housekeeper, or even a ministry companion. It wasn’t so I could neglect her for most or our life together. It was because I really, really, really LIKED her and liked being with her—and wanted to continue feeling that way!

How odd that most dating couples spend more time together than married couples do. Personally, I’d sure like to die knowing that I defied that statistic my whole life! Don’t let it happen to your marriage. It honors the Lord to give your marriage plenty of time—and He makes up the difference in every other area!

I can’t believe that God has given us two decades together—it sure flew by! In many ways, we’re just getting started. And in other ways, we have so many cherished memories. Time passes quickly. Don’t let anything stop you from making your marriage a priority. Get away for a few days. Everything else will be there when you get back, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with it all.

All of life goes better when your marriage is on solid ground and your spouse truly is your BFF!

Note: For those unfamiliar with the lingo of young girls, the term BFF stands for “Best Friends Forever.” And if you’re a man, I wouldn’t recommend its use in any normal context. 🙂