Our home is about 20 minutes from Washington DC. We live in the midst of amazing cultural and racial diversity and I love it! Unfortunately, at times you can cut the racial tension with a knife! When I go to the store I am definitely the minority. I really don’t mind that, but quite often a sales clerk or a server at a restaurant ignores me or is rude. When that happens I do what I can to make a connection with the person, to break down any barriers, and to show them I care for them. I ask them how they are, try to make conversation or try to make them laugh. I find it to be a fun challenge! I am not always successful, but I try!
One night my husband and I were at Target. After we were done finding all we were looking for, we made our way to the check out line. We stood there as the sales clerk scanned our merchandise. One thing after another. She never made eye contact. She never said a word. We tried to connect with her, but to no avail! She would not budge. The last two items left to scan were a couple of sodas that my husband and I had picked up. A thought came to my mind and I blurted out the ice breaker comment! I held up the two soda’s, looked at the precious sales clerk, and said, “What do you think? This is his idea of a date!!”
Well, that comment made her day. She burst out laughing and said, “THAT was funny!” She laughed and laughed and laughed, and we teased Brian a little bit. She looked at me and said good bye. (I’m sure she was probably thinking “That was one funny, crazy little white lady!”) As we made our way to the car, I made sure my husband knew I didn’t mean what I’d said! I apologized several times and told him I was just trying to make the lady laugh and connect with her. He assured me that he knew that and it was fine. He knows me well enough to know that I would not say that and actually mean it!
It’s encouraging to see how far we have come over the years. I am so thankful to be serving a gracious God who gently opens our eyes to the areas in our lives where we are in error and where we need to grow! He not only exposes those areas, but He changes our hearts, teaches the right way to live, and heals the damage that has been done because of neglect or faulty thinking.
Revealing the Cracks…
After my husband and I started having children, dating went out the window! We became so consumed with the daily life of working, supporting a family, raising and caring for our children that we neglected to carve out much time for just he and I to be alone. We were walking through life side by side, but we were very rarely taking the time to turn towards each other and look into each other’s eyes. Because we had so few people living life with us and speaking into our lives, we were on our own and we thought we were okay. But we weren’t okay and eventually it began to show in our relationship.
Thankfully, when the cracks were revealed and it was evident that we were beginning to fall apart, we had people in our life that came along side us and helped put the pieces back together. As our brothers and sisters in Christ began to help us pick up the pieces, they also took the time to help us reflect back over the years and to see what it was that caused the cracks to begin in the first place. We were able to see where we had neglected some very important areas in our relationship and it had caused some damage. Then we began the rebuilding and strengthening process.
Even though I do not buy into all that our culture promotes as “romance,” I do believe that romance and a deep love is vital in a marriage relationship. I also believe that when that kind of love is evident in a marriage, it brings glory to God. A marriage where two people merely “co-exist” because they have to is not what God intended. But it doesn’t just happen. It takes work. It takes commitment. Like any other relationship, the marriage relationship needs to be nurtured.
After members of the body of Christ helped us back onto our feet and gave us some help in walking out some practical things to help our marriage, we were able to move forward. With their encouragement and continued prayer that God would knit our hearts together, God began to do a work in our marriage. He is continuing that work today. And we will have to depend on Him to do that work until we die!
We are Dating Again!
One of the things that has become a priority in our marriage is making time to go on dates. I know that probably seems like a “no-brainer,” but it is something we had let go. Taking the time to look into each other’s eyes, hold hands, and talk ALONE has been refreshing and has breathed new life into our marriage. It doesn’t really matter where we go, what matters is that WE GO! We like to try little “hole in the wall” places that serve food from different countries, go for coffee, and some Friday nights we just go grocery shopping together. Occasionally, if both our our kids are out with friends, we will rent a movie and spend the evening alone at home. And, honestly, if all we did was get two sodas and sat in our car and talked, I’d be fine with that. It’s not about where we go, it’s about being together and nurturing our relationship.
It’s about NURTURING!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to grow old and stale in ANY area of my life, and especially in my marriage. One day my kids will be out on their own. God willing, the one person I will be left with is my husband. I am not content to coast into that season of life, and then find myself in the middle of the next season living with a man I don’t know very well and with whom love has not been nurtured. I am so very thankful that God showed us the cracks in our marriage before it was too late…before they were not able to be repaired!
I believe that the more loving the marriage relationship is, the more it glorifies God. Nurturing and working hard to keep love alive in a marriage does have it’s benefits for me. I am much happier with the way things are now. But you know what? It’s not all about me! God wants to use our marriage to point others to Himself. It is one of the ways others can see God! So we work hard in our marriage so that God is pleased and so that He is glorified.
Make the time to nurture your marriage relationship, no matter how old your children are and no matter how old YOU are! Satan would love to see cracks form so that he can get in there and create division and steal glory from God! What a testimony for Christ, to have fought hard to nurture a relationship and to see God turn it into something that He uses for His glory!
Gina has been married to Brian for 23 years. Brian is a faculty member, and they both serve as deans at a Christian college. She and her family live on the college campus and work with the resident students. She has two children, Brianna (age 21) and Caleb (age 18) who are now both in college. In her spare time Gina writes and seeks to encourage women of all ages, through articles and by living life with them as much as possible! You can find her at her personal blog: “Keepin’ it Real,”at “The Internet Cafe,” and featured in several issues of “Best of Life” magazine.
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