Working on supporting each other today will allow you to love where you end up years from now.
“We never in a million years could have guessed our journey would look like this.”
The woman looked off into the distance as she spoke, reflecting on the joys and the sorrows she and her husband had endured over the previous 30 years of marriage. A gentle smile formed as she came back to herself and glanced at her husband. The wrinkles in her eyes were sincere as she let us into her thoughts. “But I love where we have ended up.”
Her husband locked eyes with her, and later we reflected on how at that moment something between them was shared like a whispered secret, a shared acknowledgement. That the moments of trials and testing, glory and deep joy interlaced through their lives like a scarlet thread have brought them profound meaning.
They witnessed together the endless moments, big and small, that form a life. Through it all they had come to know the meaning of love, of dreaming and achieving, of being formed into something better, in many ways, than they could have ever guessed or hoped for.
I had interviewed this dear couple for a school research project, digging into the “secret” of happy couples’ long marriages. My wife and I enjoyed dinner with them, and they let us into their story, their long, circuitous, sometimes monotonous, sometimes unpredictable, full-of-adventure-and-intimacy story.
The secret of their marriage, they shared with us, was that determination to invest into the dreams of their spouse and the commitment to make sense of their lives through the lens of their love for God and love for one another.
As a young married couple ourselves, we left that night telling ourselves that we wanted to be able, after 30 years of marriage, to reflect on our own stories of dreams and accomplishments. We wanted to share in whatever it was that God would lead us into and lead us through in our marriage. While we commit dreaming together for our future, it is in reflecting backwards that we discover meaning within our experiences.
In our first installment in this series, we discussed the grace to deepen friendship in your marriage. In the second installment, we highlighted the need to grow in your ability to handle conflict in a way that builds your intimacy.
With friendship and healthy conflict as foundations, you are now best equipped to turn toward your spouse and discuss your dreams together.
Create a vision for your marriage, that your marriage now may flourish (Proverbs 29:18). What are unique ways God has shaped the heart of your spouse for the Kingdom of God, and how might you together build towards the things He has for you?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)
Reflect with your spouse on the questions of their dreams and life meaning. Create some space together where you are undistracted (a nice dinner out, perhaps?), and consider discussing together the following questions:
- Where do you want us to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
- What do you want the legacy of our marriage to be? If after we’ve been married 30 years (or 50 or 80!) and someone comes and asks us about the “secret” of our marriage, what do you hope we can share with them?
- What are three dreams that God has laid on your heart for your life? Big or small, what would you love to do with the life God has given you?
- How can I help bring those about for you?
Within the conversation, ask Jesus to reveal to you the vision He has for your marriage. Write down what He begins to show you and bring it up with your spouse occasionally. Come back to it routinely. Let your shared dreams and God’s vision for your life together guide and shape your marriage into one that flourishes.
Dr. Brian Fidler
Dr. Brian Fidler is an assistant professor of counseling at Colorado Christian University and a psychotherapist in private practice, helping couples for more than a decade. He has worked with hundreds of couples through the years who wish to work through their marriage struggles and deepen their intimate connection. Dr. Fidler and his wife have been married for 20 years and enjoy spending time with their family, reading, and exploring the outdoors.