It’s funny. I’ve been very focused on marriage of late. I have my first book at the publisher and I’m in the beginning stages of starting a marriage ministry at my church. I’ve beenresearching it, reading about it, looking at conferences and planning to attend marriage encounter weekends. All of this in an effort to get myself fully up to speed on the topic and to prepare me for a future that will have me (hopefully) transitioning into full time marriage ministry. With all of this attention I’ve been putting on the subject, imagine my surprise when my wife recently came into my office and sat across from me. She told me that she was feeling neglected and was beginning to regret that she and I were spending so little meaningful time together. “How could that be?”, I wondered.
There was a time when I would have justified my behavior and attempted to convince her that her perceptions were… wrong. I would have pointed out a number of recent situations where she and I had done something together, and I should be credited for those efforts. After “clearing the air” with my explanations, I would have gone back to my schedule and quickly forgotten her complaint.
Fortunately, that is not what I did this time. The fact that she expressed this concern made it very real. While I could have swept the matter under the rug, there was no way i could change her perception. So in spite of the fact that I didn’t see the situation the same way she did, I committed to focusing on the issue moving forward.
I scheduled a date night. I turned off my phone for a few evenings and focused my attention on her. On Saturday it was cool outside. I was doing some cleanup in the yard and burned a brush pile. When I saw that the burning waste was becoming a nice fire, I grabbed a couple of camp chairs and a bottle of wine and invited her to join me outside to enjoy it.
None of these actions were hard to pull off, and none of them were out of character for me. The key is, I heard a concern and addressed it early. I didn’t wait for the fourth or fifth time she expressed it before doing something. Likewise, I hope that her seeing a prompt response from me would encourage her to continue to bring up concerns early on – before they become significant issues.
Things are better now. They were never bad, but they are definitely better. I talk a lot about being intentional in a marriage. This was an instance where I followed my own advice. And it worked!