Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A better you

     Tomorrow, Wednesday, February th is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of Lent.  Lent is a tradition observed by many Christians to mark the 40 days leading up to Easter weekend.  Many think of Lent as a time of self-denial; giving up bad habits or luxuries that might distract you from focusing on Christ.  But Lent isn’t just about getting rid of the bad, it can also be a time to incorporate positive actions and attitudes.
     Most people focus on personal improvement during Lent (which is not a bad thing), but this year, how about deciding with your spouse on something the two of you can do together to improve your marriage and refocus on having a Christ-centered relationship.  Let Lent be a time of focusing on you (plural) rather than you (singular).  It might be leaving behind something that has distracted you from maximizing your marriage relationship, or it might be starting (or restarting) something that proves good for you and your spouse.
     Obviously, you need to talk with your spouse about what you’re going to do, and it will look different for every couple, but here are some possibilities for the next 40 days during Lent:
  • Pray with each other (not just for each other, but actually with each other)
  • Read scripture together each day 
  • Make each other laugh as often as possible 
  • Say encouraging things to your mate multiple times daily 
  • Give up time spent watching TV or looking at the computer to talk to your spouse undistracted 
  • Verbally express a specific reason you love your spouse—and give a different reason each day 
  • Give your spouse a handwritten note each day 
  • Hold hands, hug, kiss, or have some other type of prolonged physical contact each day (that isn’t necessarily intended to lead to sex) 
  • Share at least one meal together every day (if one of you travels, use Facetime or Skype to be together as you eat) 
  • Devote the time you would have given to your hobby to sharing in your spouse’s interests 
  • Find a new way to connect intimately each day (not just physical intimacy, but also emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual intimacy)
Certainly, you could add so many more things to this list, but maybe this will get you thinking about what you can do together.  Just be intentional and don’t give up.
     Changing a behavior, whether you’re adding or taking away, takes discipline and effort.  But let 40 days during Lent this year lead to a lifetime of marriage improving action.  If you read this after Lent has already begun, don’t use that as an excuse not to start right now doing whatever you can together to make your marriage better.  And, if you don’t celebrate Lent, that’s okay—call it whatever you want, but 40 days of intentional, Christ-centered focus together can renew your marriage in amazing ways.

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