Marriage Momentum What's In Your Wallet?

RingsBy Paul Gauche

I was digging through my wallet recently, tending to the monthly task of gathering receipts in order to help my sweet bride with the monthly task of balancing everything. Receipts must be dated and the amount included at the top of the receipt so that the process of checking the credit card statement against the receipts can be accomplished. Along with all of those receipts were a couple of lists that I’d made to help navigate an errand run.

Here’s one of the lists:

  • milk
  • butter
  • a couple of spices
  • salmon
  • salmon rub
  • a bag of onions
  • a box of crackers
  • squash
  • orange juice
  • half gallon of ice cream

On the other list I had included …

  • window washer fluid
  • a furnace filter
  • an ice scraper
  • salt for the water softener

When I arrived at the stores, I was thankful for those little pieces of paper in my wallet. I’d never have remembered all of those things without the help of the lists.

We make lists of all kinds of things: groceries, home improvements, even goals—daily, weekly, yearly goals. These are the things we want to accomplish. These are the things we want to invest in, get good at, check off. And checking things off a list feels good, doesn’t it? Have you ever put something on a to-do list and then just crossed it off because you’d already done it?

Of course you have! Come on, be honest!

But sometimes I think about how often we put the names of the people we love on a list and include things that we can do for them.

Or not.
Imagine the impact on a relationship if we listed our loved ones with the same kind of vigor and commitment that we do cheese, broccoli and oats! Okay, maybe not broccoli.

Nancy Lee and I have been leading marriage retreats for many years. And while we’ve used a few different models for those retreats, the best one by far has been “The Love List Retreat” using the book “The Love List” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott from Seattle Pacific University. In their fabulous book, Les and Leslie suggest ‘Eight Little Things That Make a Big Difference In Your Marriage.” Over the course of the next several months I’ll share those ‘eight little things’ with the expectation that they will, indeed, impact your marriage if you take some time to practice them, make a huge difference in your marriage.

The Parrott’s call these ‘eight little things’ habits—behaviors that we’ll need to tend to with a good degree of intentionality. Keeping in mind that it takes roughly 30 days to instill a habit, if we worked on implementing one habit each month, by next year at this time, you might just have a significant ramped up and amped up relationship. It is possible!

So for now, let’s just take a look at where we’ll be going this month and get these eight little habits in our minds.

“The Love List” suggests that we do…

  • two things we do once each day
  • two things we do once each week
  • two things we do once each month
  • two things we do once each year

Once a day…

  • Take Time to Touch … (If Only For a Minute)
  • Find Something That Makes You Both Laugh

Once a week…

  • Do Something Active That Lifts Your Spirits
  • Boost Your Partner’s Self-Esteem

Once a month…

  • Rid Yourselves of Harmful Residue
  • Fire Up Passion in the Bedroom

Once a year…

  • Review Your Top-Ten Highlights
  • Chart Your Course for the Coming Year

That’s where we’re going together in the next months. But for now let me ask you to consider a few things…

First, it’s really important that you set aside some time together without the distractions that normally sabotage having a deeper conversation. Nancy Lee and I have found that finding some ‘neutral ground’ like a coffee shop or a restaurant help us tune out the normal things that vie for our attention so that we can have a deeper conversation.

Secondly, I want to urge you to make—at least for now, a monthly commitment to spending just one hour together to focus on these things.

Thirdly, I’ll have some things for you to talk about together. It’s pretty important that you take a few moments before you head out the door together to have these questions spinning around in your mind; give these things some thought before you talk.

Gaining MarriageM o m e n t u m . . .
Look in your wallet or your purse, or in your planner or pocket—or wherever you might have tossed a recently created a list. Look at the things on that list and talk about why you needed them and where they are right now. This is going to sound silly, but just go ahead and have the conversation.

  1. What kind of daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly rituals or habit do you have together?
    • Nightly bowls of cereal or daily walks together?
    • Weekly television shows or monthly home care tasks?
    • Yearly vacations?
  2. Why are these things on your relationship lists?
  3. How does engaging in these things strengthen you?
  4. How do those things create a little stress?
  5. What’s one thing that not on your relationship list that you’d like to put there and keep there—be able to check it off for the week ahead?

(View all posts in the Marriage Momentum series)

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