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Raising the Bar

My wife, Krista, and I have been married almost nine years, and we have two sons who love to look at pictures and watch videos of the family. So, we decided this past weekend to watch our wedding video. It had been years since we’ve watched it, and we thought it would be fun for us to reminisce a little. Man, I was such a kid! Krista was glowing and beautiful, but it was funny to see me with my long sideburns and goofy grin. Oh, how time changes a lot of things!

Without being too sappy here, it was really powerful to see us saying our vows, washing each other’s feet, lighting the unity candle, and telling God and the world that we were making a wholehearted and unwavering commitment to the covenant of marriage. I meant every word I said (and struggled to say because of crying like a baby), and I feel even stronger about those things years later. However, I wish I would have known then just how intentional I would need to be in order to achieve and maintain those high hopes for our life and marriage.

I think everyone who is either planning for marriage or chooses to get married has the same high hopes and plans for a lifelong, thrilling and thriving marriage, or in other words has the bar set pretty high. I know we did. But as I travel the country doing marriage retreats, seminars and have other opportunities to teach about marriage and relationships, it is discouraging to see what appears to be a common problem in our marriages. It seems like at some point, many couples begin to settle for a marriage that is “just OK” or “surviving.” Who on their wedding day vows to have a marriage that is fine, OK or not that bad? I’ve yet to meet someone who says that!

We often like to compare our marriage to our parent’s marriage or those we saw growing up. Sometimes a person might think, “Well, it’s a lot better than what I saw growing up.” Or, “At least we don’t fight all of the time.” Or even, “He’s not abusing me, which is better than what I’ve ever seen.” These are all good things, but I don’t think this is the bar that we set for our marriages. Shouldn’t it be more than this? Shouldn’t we be excited about our marriage and striving to constantly grow in our love for each other, and work to make the good great and the great even better?

As I’ve learned in my own marriage, the bar doesn’t get raised and reached on its own. I love my wife and care for her deeply, but if I’m not intentional on a regular basis, I have a tendency to just put my marriage on cruise control, simply existing. Being intentional isn’t real complicated or always doing the “big” things. This is my turning off the TV, looking Krista in the eyes and talking with her. It is us planning a date for us to be alone and having fun with each other. It’s my asking Krista questions and seeking to learn more about her and staying in touch with the important things in her life. Again, these types of things don’t just happen. I have to initiate and choose to invest in Krista and our marriage.

Whether you are currently married, engaged to be married or just thinking about what it might be like some day, I challenge you to be intentional in all of your relationships, but especially the one that you are in that might lead to marriage. I know it seems like lowering the bar or simply existing would never be a problem for you, but if you lose intentionality in your relationships, watch out. It’s easier than you think.

The ministry of Boundless is focused on helping you lay the foundation for the marriage that you have hoped for and dream about, and that’s exactly what we want for everyone. I know it’s achievable if you go into it ready and willing to be intentional and work every day to get there. I love my marriage and my wife more than I could ever describe here, but I have also learned that it’s not enough to rest on the words and merits of the past. It continued this morning when I got up and will be an opportunity for me tomorrow.

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