Doing Nothing Together

ThinkstockPhotos-179044139Mark says: “We need to do this more often.” That’s what I said to Jill yesterday morning as we spread out a blanket on the grass along the shore of Lake Michigan.  The International students we were hosting really wanted to see the Shedd Aquarium.  We’ve both been there and didn’t really want to go, so we took a blanket and found some shade along the lake.

Jill says: I asked him, “We need to do what more often?”  He said, “We need to do absolutely nothing together more often.”

Mark says: For many of us, Jill and I included, we often have a non-stop “to-do” list in our head.  Between kids, work, and home projects, there’s always something that needs to be done!

Jill says: It was good to just spread a blanket, talk, read, nap, talk some more, and daydream a bit.

Mark says: We often do that when we are on vacation, but not usually outside of vacation.

Jill says: A couple weekends ago, we kept our grandkids so our daughter and her husband could do “nothing” together. They didn’t go anywhere. They brought the kids to our house (we live a little over an hour from their house) and went back home to spend a low-key weekend together.

Mark says:  We know another couple who, after they put the kids to bed, they go out and lie on the trampoline to talk and gaze at the stars together.

Jill says: When our hot tub is working (it often is NOT working!) we use it to “do nothing” together. We have some of our richest conversations in the hot tub where we are not distracted by the television, cell phones, computer, or the everyday activities of life.

Mark says: You can “do nothing” by spreading a blanket in the park and picnicking a couple times a month.  It costs nothing, and requires only intentionality. It doesn’t even have to take much time. A 30 minute “nothing” date is far better than not doing one at all.

Jill says: It’s hard for us “Type A” driven personalities to slow down and do nothing. Yet, it’s important for our emotional and relational health!

Mark says: We’re going to be more intentional about occasional times of doing nothing together. Want to join us?

What about you? How do you and your spouse “do nothing” together? How about making a date to do nothing sometime in the next two weeks?  

Marriage Monday: Love During Hard Times

Last week I had the privilege of partnering with Focus on the Family to encourage marriages on their radio broadcast.

They also featured a 5 minute video I did for them in the fall about loving when it’s hard. If you or someone you know are struggling in your marriage, you’ll find some words of encouragement for you here.)

How about you? Has God ever showed you how to love when it’s hard? 

2010 takes us into 2011…Are You Your Spouse’s Publicist?

Last week when when I was reading Thriving Family Magazine, one article title caught my eye: Become Your Spouse’s Publicist.  In the book world, a publicist is one who advertises and promotes books. 

It got me thinking…Do I more often give my husband “bad press” or “good press?”  If I’m honest with myself, there are times that my tendency is to talk negatively about my husband than positively.

This post first appeared in July 2010, but it’s a perfect Marriage Monday to start off the New Year!

Here are 50 things I love about my husband:

1. He is a man who loves God’s truth. 
2. He has a gift talking to people and helping them discover things about themselves. 
3. He loves people and see God’s best in them.
4. He has a tender heart that is sensitive to God’s Spirit.
5. His spiritual gift of discernment never ceases to amaze me!
6. He’s not afraid to change when change is needed.
7. He’s fun!
8. He gives incredible back rubs.
9. He’s a hard worker.
10. He has a servant heart that blesses others in so many ways.
11. He has a gift with fixing things.
12. He is a wonderful father.
13. When the kids were little, he was so good to give them baths and get them to bed so I could have a break. 14. He has helped me raise our children…he is truly a partner.
15. He is predictable…and I love that about him!
16. He takes out the trash without my asking.
17. He is thoughtful.
18. He understands me.
19. He takes pride in the yard and caring for our home. 
20. He is handy with things around the house.
21. He cleans up the vomit while I clean up the kid.
22. He let’s me be me and he is ok with him being him.

23. He goes to musicals with me even though he hates musicals.
24. He reminds me to keep my mileage when I rarely remember to do it myself.
25. He is ok being called “Mr. Jill” at the Hearts at Home conferences.  Not many men would be ok with that.
26.He is so good to repair things around the house quickly.  I don’t even have to ask!
27. He helps out in the kitchen, doing whatever needs to be done. (And he taught me to make incredible chili!)
28. He is committed to our family.
29. He is willing to live with less even when it’s sometimes not fun to do without.
30. He takes time for us.
31. He is an incredible dancer. I love swing dancing with him!
32. He balances the checkbook every month!
33. He helps around the house with almost anything. (I know that dusting is where he draws the line. Hey a man’s got to have his boundaries!)
34. He is a loyal and encouraging friend.
35. He has a cute butt.
36. He is patient with the kids, teaching them to do things the first time.
37. He was so good to wrestle with the kids when they were younger.
38. He is one sexy Papaw!
39. He takes care of our cars so well.
40. He likes to shop way more than I do.
41. He is a wise leader and my best leadership consultant.
42. He has supported me being home with the kids even though it was financially challenging.
43. He handles the Christmas tree lights every year.
44. He helps get all the decorations out every December.
45. He helps put all the decorations away every January!
46. He gives me time away when I need it.
47. He draws me out and help me understand my feelings.
48. He is an excellent listener.
49. He encourages me. He encourages the kids. He encourages everyone he meets!
50. He is my best friend.
Why don’t you take a stab at being your spouse’s publicist today?  Go tell someone the good things about your partner!

Marriage Monday: Date Night Over the Holidays

Today’s Marriage Monday will be the last new one until the new year.  Starting Wednesday, Dec 23 through Tuesday, January 4 (the two weeks our boys are off school), I’ll be taking off two weeks of active blogging. 

During those two weeks, I’m going to do a recap of the ten most popular posts of 2010, in case you missed some great conversations we had this year. 

We’re using today’s Marriage Monday to give you some ideas for planning at least one date night over the holidays.

Mark says…
With most of our extended family in Indianapolis, the holidays usually mean a trip to Indy for our family.  When the kids were small, Jill and I would ask her parents to babysit one evening so we could have a night out. 

Jill says…
We also traded sitting with other couples who had children similar ages to our kids.  Arranging that during the holidays works well, too, because people have more flexible schedules.

Mark says…
Occasionally we would do an overnight away during the holidays (or have the kids go to Grandma’s so we could stay home in our own home ALONE!)

Jill says…
Now that our kids are older, we don’t have to arrange for a sitter anymore, but we still have to intentionally plan some time for just the two of us.

Mark says…
We currently have two date nights planned during the holidays.  The first is a night out to dinner with some friends we don’t get to see very often.  And the second one is attending a wedding on New Year’s Eve.  We’re looking forward to spending time with friends and dancing the night away. 

Because we believe making time for your marriage is important, we are doing a giveaway over the holidays.  To enter the giveaway, just arrange some time for just the two of you over the next two weeks.  Once you take some time for yourselves, let us know how you arranged it and what you did (well, please don’t tell us EVERYTHING you did…just general info–if you know what we mean!)

You have until Jan 9 to post a comment on this post and enter the giveaway for a CD of your choice of any of our marriage workshops from the Hearts at Home conferences. We’ll announce the winners on the first new Marriage Monday of the new year on January 10.

Make your entry look like this:

Date: Dec 30
Event: We went out for coffee.
Childcare: Asked grandma and grandpa
Email: jillannsavage (at) yahoo (dot) com

By the way…we’re doing an ABC’s of a Healthy Marriage Seminar in Rapid City, South Dakota, Feb 25-27, 2011.  It’s a seminar that is being sponsored by Westway Christian Church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and it is open to the public. For more information call Rick or Sherry Derr at 308.632.1055.  We’d love for you to join us for this great weekend getaway!

May you enjoy both the time away over the holidays and the giveaway!

Marriage Monday: What if your spouse isn’t interested in making your marriage better?

We’ve talked for the past few weeks about the importance of “download” time.  We’ve explored the importance of intentionally making your marriage better.  But what if you’re the only one in your marriage interested in making your marriage better?  Today’s “Marriage Monday” is about how to keep discouragement at bay when your spouse isn’t interested in investing in your relationship.

Mark says…
Marriage is a two-way street.  It’s about both giving and receiving.  And it takes continual investment to keep the marriage fires burning.  But sometimes people find themselves in a one-sided relationship. And if that describes you, it’s very important that you know some strategies to keep you headed in the right direction.

Jill says…
During our difficult years, Mark and I both have seasons where we were more interested in investing in our marriage than the other one was.  When one of us was really off track, the other found themselves feeling quite alone in the marriage journey.  It’s not an enjoyable place to be.  And it is quite a lonely place to be.

Mark says…
Looking back on those seasons, we can glean some lessons we learned about staying focused on your marriage even when you feel alone in doing so.

Jill says…
Here are some of the lessons we learned.

  • Keep your eyes on the Mountain Mover and not on the mountains.  Only God can change your spouse’s heart.  Keep your focus on God’s truth to give you the direction and encouragement to stay strong in a difficult situation.
  • Keep temptation at bay.  Do not place yourself in any setting where you are with anyone of the opposite sex alone.  
  • Do the right things that invest in your marriage, even when it’s hard.  Choose to love even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Ask your spouse to do marriage activities not because you both need it, but because you need it.  Sometimes an unwilling spouse will do something because their spouse needs it.  (Admitting that you need something is a sign of weakness for some people. This way of making the request helps them tap into their desire to help you even when they are unwilling to seek help themselves.)
  • Keep an ongoing list of the good qualities of your spouse.  When you start to focus on the disappointments in your relationship, look instead at the positives you do experience.
  • Pray continually.  Ask God to give you the love and grace you need for each and every day. 

Mark says…

We also found a great resource of encouragement for those in tough marriage situations.  How To Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick is a great resource. 

Here’s a description:

Acting right when your spouse acts wrong will not necessarily guarantee a more satisfying marital relationship, nor will it automatically make your spouse change his or her ways–although both could occur. It will, however, help you see how God is stretching you in the midst of your marital difficulties, teach you to respond wisely when wronged, and lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ as you yield your will to his plan for your life and learn to be more like him. 

What about you?  How have you learned to act right when your spouse acts wrong?