Anything worth having is worth investing in. Marriage takes investments of time, emotional energy, resources, physical care, planning and more. We have to be intentional and proactive to guard against and prepare for difficult times in our marriage. So what can we do to really invest in our marriages?
Build a Support Network
I have a confession to make. I don’t really like people. Sure, I like individuals that I know. It’s more that I don’t like “people” as an idea. In Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K says, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” So yeah, a person is great, it’s people I don’t like, I guess.
But here’s the thing – we need people! We need other people in our lives, people who don’t live in our homes, to support us. YOU need someone who’s not in your marriage that can help you see blind spots, give advice, and tell you the truth.
We need those people in our life that we can call at a moment’s notice when we have an emergency and need someone to watch the kids. It’s so great to have a family that brings a casserole by when you get out of the hospital. This is the support network that is such an important part of investing in your marriage in view of the coming crisis.
Building this support network means being intentional in your outside relationships as well as your marriage relationship. Make friends. Invest in relationships.
Be a support network for others. As you care for others, you begin to build real lasting relationships. But here’s the key – you have to do this ahead of time.
When I was a pastor, one of the most difficult phone calls I would get is when a parent called me because their kid had gone off the deep end, or a husband called because his wife just filed divorce papers. It’s easier to fight a fire when it’s small!
Don’t wait till your house is engulfed in flames to call the fire department.
When a crisis hits, it’s so much better to already have a support network than to try to reach out in the midst of it and think you’ll find real lasting friends just waiting for you. It’s way easier for people to respond with compassion that leads to action when they already know and love you.
If a sudden external crisis hits, they’re already involved in your life and know how to help. If small problems start arising from within, you can go to them for help and you may be able to avert an internal crisis.
Outside support networks are so crucial to surviving and/or averting crisis. Being your own support network is also important.
Be a Team
By now you’ve likely heard our family motto – “Team Reason!” Keelie and I decided a long time ago that we were on the same team. I’m not out to get her and she’s not out to get me. We both want good for each other. We both want good for our kids. We are a team!
If we aren’t a team during the good times, it makes it harder to avoid or get through the bad times. We start blaming each other for the problems we find ourselves facing. We point fingers at each other instead of working together to find a solution.
Fight with each other, not against each other.
Every now and then when things start getting heated between Keelie and I, we’ll remind each other, “Hey! Team Reason! I’m not your enemy.” Deciding to fight with each other, alongside each other, instead of against each other is so crucial in marriage. Instead of standing toe-to-toe, stand shoulder-to-shoulder and face the real problem together.
Investing in your marriage by building an outside support network and maintaining an inside support network by being a team will pay off down the road. It may prevent a crisis, it may not. But it will certainly help you get through the crises that come.