State of the Union: Recapping What Works
By Jane Jarrell
Years ago when my husband Mark and I first began dating, life seemed much simpler. Often my biggest concern centered around which nail polish would match my chosen outfit for our dinner and movie. He would come by our happening duplex, all freshly showered and fashionably dressed, then open the door of an immaculate new car and sweep me away. (He never had stuff filling his backseat, you know, like empty donut sacks, coffee cups or shoes.) We would share a few pleasantries as we rushed off to a chic restaurant and charged an expensive meal. (He got the bill.) He truly orchestrated the best dates I have ever had the opportunity to experience.
As our relationship grew, his interesting way of keeping us on the same track took on an unusual twist. One evening he picked me up and he wanted to talk. This was a first for me; usually in past relationships, I would have to initiate the TALKS. Off we went to a beautiful lush park in an exclusive area of Dallas. This experience was my first introduction to what he termed, “THE STATE OF THE UNION.”
We began talking about where we each saw our relationship, he a bit guarded and me a bit bewildered at the entire process. My mind began to race. First, I thought about the president of the United States covering the important particulars involving our country through a State of the Union address. The large blue chip corporations find it vital to track their well-being and so did the well-dressed man with the clean car, Mark Jarrell.
Although I felt funny when we would discuss where our relationship might lead, I must say it offered comfort knowing his thoughts and intentions. We broke up after nine months of dating. But several years later, we began dating again. Eventually, his gentle way and ability to communicate was the adhesive that bound our hearts.
It all seemed so simple, until we married. As you may well know, the marriage process blends two families, two sets of emotional baggage, two thought processes, and two very different love languages. I had been through a devastating situation and Mark had helped me pick up the pieces. He had an uncanny ability to listen and I had the gift of talking. After reading Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, we had a panoramic view of how different we are. Mark’s love language falls under the acts of service category. That is fine and dandy, if you remember what act of service you said you wanted to do. (If I don’t write it down, it won’t be remembered. I prefer to refer to this as the “creative mind.” Mark refers to this differently.)
My love language is affirmation. In my family, you don’t compliment once, you repeat it several times for emphasis. Honestly, I am a lot like a puppy getting his head scratched, you keep scratching until the little leg begins to wiggle with glee. It is against Mark’s religion to be affirming in the sense I am accustomed to. So you see, our State of the Union has many opportunities for discussion. Sound familiar?
10 Ways to Capture Husband and Wife Teamwork
- Develop a close relationship with God. Let him draw you close to one another.
- Discuss and come to an agreement on goals for your relationship and for your family.
- Build a bridge of intimacy by taking time to nurture your relationship with date nights, love notes, little gifts, messages of encouragement and lots of listening.
- Join a Bible study or prayer group together.
- Make time for romantic moments that bond, such as a quiet talk, a candlelit dinner and a back rub after a long day.
- Find ways to maximize your communication. Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Take time to understand how your spouse best receives love. If you understand this and are willing to make an effort, the dividends are incredible.
- Find a comfortable place for a “State of the Union” discussion. This is a time to review your goals as a married couple. Discuss your hopes and dreams for your family, take a fresh look at your lives together, thank God for his blessings and pray for his future provisions.
- Edwina Patterson explains in Redeeming the Time with My Husband: “Tender feelings die when daily consideration and kindnesses fall by the wayside. Appreciation is the heart of a beautiful marriage. It is one piece of the puzzle to accept him just as he is, it is another to appreciate.” Remember to appreciate your spouse for who he is.
- Make promises you can keep. The way you treat any relationship in the family will eventually affect every relationship in the family.
- The marriage relationship is like “God’s heavenly sandpaper,” it can soften the rough edges in your life. When you choose a teamwork mentality first as a couple, then as a family, you begin to go at life together.