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I am not a mental health professional or marriage and family therapist. I am simply sharing my own experiences and what has helped me.
Does it sometimes feel impossible to do it all? Do you feel like a failure because you can’t? I hear from a lot of youth leaders who feel like they struggle to take care of themselves, their marriages and their families while giving their calling the resources it needs. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that you can’t have it all. I have learned a few things about putting first things first that have helped me to balance my calling with the rest of my life. I’ll be sharing some of those with you over the next several weeks here as well as on Facebook and Pinterest. Today, I wanted to start with taking care of your marriage relationship. This is really important, for those of us who are married. If you’re not married, don’t worry, I’ll have some resources to help you in future posts.
When I was relatively newly-married, I bought a book to give to my husband as a gift. It’s called Ten Secrets for Achieving a Successful Celestial Marriage.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that copies of this book are still available after so many years!
The basis of what I am about to explain to you is what I learned from this book! The author refers to it as the 5 Pillars of a Celestial Marriage. They are:
- Nightly Couple’s Prayer
- Daily Talk Time
- Weekly Date
- Weekly Planning Session
- Scripture Study
Let’s take a minute to discuss each one separately.
Nightly Couple’s Prayer
It’s really important to take the time to pray together. My husband and I prefer praying in the morning, rather than at night. I think there’s more than one way to tackle this one.
Daily Talk Time
This is a big deal to me. Quality time is my love language. I also process things by talking through them. For me, this time is super-important. Once again, you can tailor this to your individual needs. If you’re struggling with where to start, I recommend trying these conversation starters.
Talking really not your thing? Try these journaling prompts, instead.
This one has made a huge difference in our marriage. Lately, the struggle has been to come up with ideas for dates, rather than being consistent about our dates. It can get really old, when all you do is go see a movie or go out for dinner.
If you’re looking for a unique idea for a date that will help you connect with each other and you live close enough to Lehi, Utah, I recommend trying a couple’s massage class from Couples Massage 101. They provide group instruction for massage techniques you can use on your spouse. They offer an upper body and a lower body class. It’s taught by two instructors who demonstrate the technique to the whole group and then roam around to offer individual help. I had a blast the night I went with my husband! They were very thorough in making sure we understood what they were teaching. I felt a little awkward at first practicing the techniques they taught, but that went away quickly. If this is something you think you and your spouse would enjoy, use the code LDSYL and they’ll give you 50% off!
Want even more ideas? The Dating Divas are my favorite place to look for date ideas. Some of their kits a free, some are for purchase. They have ideas for all sorts of people. Some are perfect for me and others are definitely not my style. For Christmas, I bought the Year of Dates Binder and gave it to my husband.
We sit down on the 4th Sunday of each month to plan the next four weeks of dates to help us stay out of the “go out to eat or go see a movie” rut that we get stuck in sometimes.
Weekly Planning Session
Once we had kids, we started making this a part of Family Home Evening with our kids. With my husband being a bishop and a busy teenager at home, it helps a lot to know what’s going on with everyone from one week to the next.
We have a set time each morning to sit down and read the scriptures together for 5-10 minutes. There are a lot of ways you can do this. What matters most is being consistent and having a purpose for your study time.
Taking care of these things has honestly made it so much easier to have the freedom I need to serve the youth in my charge. It also helps me to know when I really need to say no because it conflicts with one (or more) of these five pillars.
It’s a lot like the object lesson with the big rocks, little rocks and rice (or water). You try to fit them all in a container, but they don’t unless you start with the big rocks. So… start with the big rocks. Be intentional about taking care of them. There will be ways to accomplish all that you need to in your calling, after you put first things first.
Your turn! What are your favorite ways to put your marriage first?
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