Hope for Marriage: Shared Experiences in Marriage

Shared Experiences

Happy Friday! This week, we’ve been talking about HOPE for Marriage, as we’ve kicked off Marriage Month here at AmyJoeJimBob.

First, we talked about how important it is to honor your spouse. That means placing high value on the person to whom God has joined you til death do you part. Most importantly, valuing your spouse more than yourself.

When you selflessly honor your spouse, you begin working toward becoming one. God gave us a picture of the oneness that He wants us to have in the Trinity, where there is one God in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ghost). Likewise, in marriage, we see the man and wife, while remaining two persons, become one flesh in Christ.

Yesterday, we talked about ways to protect your marriage, now that you’ve placed a high value on it, and have begun seeing the importance of becoming one. Anything that distracts you from that task or draws your heart away from your marriage must be eliminated, must be seen as detrimental to your marriage. Love your spouse, honor your marriage enough to protect it.

It’s not enough to protect your marriage from negative influences, though. Like the unclean spirit that is driven out of a man and returns with seven others more powerful, because the “house” is clean and in order, but empty (Matthew 15:43-45), removing bad influences isn’t enough. Don’t protect your marriage so that it can stay empty. You need to build positive memories, with shared experiences.

Shared Experiences in Marriage

Look at the categories for this post… It hits them all (and a couple of additional tags), because everything you do in marriage is a shared experience.

Or should be.

Remember that even though you and your spouse are one flesh, you are still two persons, each with strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, interests and peeves. It’s unlikely that you will 100% enjoy to the fullest everything your spouse enjoys. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing things together.

If your spouse has a favorite hobby or activity, join in. It doesn’t matter if it’s underwater basket-weaving,  antique shopping, hunting, bass fishing, cross-country skiing, watching the Big Game on the Big Screen, museum-going, listening to live music (rock, country, symphony, opera), NASCAR racing, surfing, snorkeling, couponing, reading, watching Bollywood movies, travelling, cooking, home décor, working in a soup kitchen, serving in the mission field, collecting spoons, birdwatching, wine tasting, or one of a billion other things, JOIN IN!

At the same time, if you enjoy something immensely—that your spouse couldn’t care less about, make sure it’s not something that is drawing your heart (or your spouse’s heart) away. The old adage, Absence makes the heart grow fonder, may be true in small doses, but too much absence in marriage can make the heart grow lonely and cold. Shared experiences in marriage are a glue that helps bind your hearts to one another.

Some Examples

For those who are having trouble figuring out what to do together as a couple, I’ll offer a few suggestion from our marriage that may or may not work for you. They’re just examples; you need to work together as a couple to find the right fit for you.

Cooking

Amy is an amazing cook! From early in our marriage, I have known that she could walk into the kitchen with nothing but fluff in her pockets and come out with Chicken Cordon Bleu. She truly makes magic happen in the kitchen.

I’ve never burned water, but let’s just say that if I’m alone in the kitchen making anything more complicated that PB&Js or scrambled eggs, eat at your own risk.

But, I love cooking with Amy. I’m the magician’s apprentice in the kitchen: I wield the knives, I sauté the mushrooms, I pour the wine; while she orchestrates the timing, the simmering, making the roux, tweaking some recipe she found from some expert and making it better. (She’s Mozart to F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri: she takes a published recipe from some gourmet and says, “That doesn’t quite work, does it? How about this? And this? And THIS?” Then we sit down to a masterpiece! Funny little recipe… but it yielded GREAT things.)

I don’t always get to help (and it usually comes out better when I don’t), but we so enjoy that time together. It’s a shared experience.

If she’s there, leading the symphony, we make some great music together. And speaking of music…

Music

Our musical tastes are pretty eclectic; in fact there’s not much we won’t enjoy to some extent. But it’s important to us to have music appropriate to the occasion.

That’s where Pandora comes in.

Whatever we’re having for dinner dictates the station we pick. When we’re having Italian, we put it on Mambo Italiano, Louis Prima, or Rat Pack Radio. We have a Mariachi station for Tex-Mex; a Mediterranean station for when we’re having Greek; Contemporary Bollywood radio when we’re having Indian; when we’re feeling nostalgic for Austin, it’s Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, or George Strait.

Whatever the station, though, we dance in the kitchen while we’re cooking.

Hospitality

I’m an extrovert and love a large crowd, Amy’s an introvert prefers a more intimate setting. So we enjoy having a couple over for dinner every so often.

We also like opening our home to friends travelling to or through the area. But, I also know that it takes a lot of energy on Amy’s part, so we spread them out.

Home Décor

This is Amy’s THING! Creativity and expressing it runs through every fiber of her being, and a pretty house feeds and refreshes her soul.

For my part, I like the house in order and I love the way the house looks when it’s well-decorated; but I would never attempt most of the projects she does without her.

That said, there are times when I need to engineer something that she’s dreamed up and doesn’t know how to build. Now that’s fun!

Funny story.

She was once making a cornice board to go over a set of three living room window in the living room, with an arch that mimicked the arched molding over our fireplace. I got out my calculator and figured out that to scale the arc up to the length of the windows (over 12′) the radius of the circle would be over 50′.

So I toted this 2″x12″x12′ board across the street to a park where I could spread out and draw a 52′-radius arc on it.

The arc was drawn, the wood was cut, and Amy covered it with quilt batting and fabric. It looked great!

Amy currently has three different projects she’s working on: one is slipcovering a wingback chair, one is refinishing/painting a donated buffet, and the other is painting some bookshelves we’ve had for a number of years that are ready for a make-over. She always seeks my opinion on the décor projects she does to make sure they’re not too feminine. Whenever she finishes a piece it’s a perfect balance of masculine and feminine: something we both enjoy.

Children

Children are the ultimate shared experience: making them, birthing them, rearing them, praying for them, and releasing them. Working together on parenting is essential to your marriage. Realize that you may not see eye-to-eye on everything, but there are times when you just need to back up your spouse’s way of doing things.

Training your children to recognize and acknowledge that it’s good for them that Mommy and Daddy get to spend time alone together is very important to your marriage… and to their health, happiness, and well-being, too.

Bollywood Movies

Netflix recommended Jodhaa Akbar almost five years ago. It was our first exposure to Indian cinema, and we were hooked. We’ve now seen over 100 Bollywood movies together; many of them, multiple times.

We don’t like everything we’ve seen, but many that we have are very enjoyable: some because of their story-telling, some because of their cheese factor, and many because of their music and costumes. God has used Bollywood films to turn our hearts towards India and her people, that they may hear the Gospel, repent, and believe. As a result, we now sponsor three children in India, through Compassion International.

Travel

We love exploring new places. We long to travel abroad together, but for now we’re content to explore our current city in Northern Virginia, not knowing how long God will have us here. But whenever we have the chance to explore other cities, we always relish getting to know the locals, if possible.

Whatever the two of you find to do, do it together… as much as your are able. And if one of you has a passion that the other just can’t share, limit your time indulging that passion, realizing that your spouse should be your primary passion.

Shared experiences build good memories that you can hold onto and remember when (not if) the bad times come. And they help establish hope for your marriage.

Your Turn

What experiences do you and your spouse share?

What hobby or activity of your spouse’s have you learned to enjoy by joining in over the course of your marriage?

What hobby or activity have you done less of in order to spend more time as a couple?

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Please share your thoughts