Supporting your spouse’s passions

Photo credit; WebHamster (Flickr)

Photo credit; WebHamster (Flickr)

When Lori and I married nearly 27 years ago, I was trying to find a way to develop a career in music. Lori endured the long rehearsals, the gigs, and the time I spent alone practicing my craft. Through it all her support was unconditional and enthusiastic. As an accomplished singer herself, she understood my passion. Later in our marriage my passions turned toward theology and being a pastor. This presented a greater challenge for her, since my role as a pastor put different demands on her. It’s not easy being a pastor’s wife and she hadn’t “signed up” for that responsibility when we married. Nevertheless she accepted the role with grace because she supported my passions.

When Lori decided to pursue a career in psychology, the roles were reversed. She spent a lot of time in class, reading texts, studying, and writing papers. We had to find ways to finance her studies. Schedules had to be juggled to make sure our daughter was always cared for appropriately. And then there are all the other struggles and emotions of a non-traditional student (ie. being older than some professors) that must be dealt with. It wasn’t an easy road for either of us, but it has been supremely rewarding for both of us. Now, our passions have converged here with Permanent Passionate Partnership.

Supporting each other’s God-given passions is one of the great responsibilities and privileges of being married. It also can be one of the great challenges of marriage because the stronger own passions are the harder we may find it to give focus and energy to someone else’s passions, especially if their passions are significantly different from our own. That’s because as human beings we are by nature selfish. Selfishness is the core attribute of our sinful nature, and it is poison to any marriage. Love is not selfish, in fact some have argued that the opposite of love is not hatred but selfishness. I think there is merit to that argument. To be truly loving is to put our loved one’s best interest ahead of our own. In different seasons of life, we may choose to minimize or postpone our passions to make room for our spouse’s passions. Sometimes those decisions may be quite difficult to make. To be truly loving, however, means that we do not demand that our spouse serve our passions, no matter how important they may seem. We seek first to support theirs.

It takes intentional effort to discover your spouse’s passions. We must consciously decide to set aside our own agenda and listen. It takes even more intentional effort to make sacrifices to support our spouse’s passions once we’ve discovered them. The result, however, is greater fulfillment as individuals and greater intimacy as a couple.

What is your spouse passionate about? What are their dreams for the future? What are you doing to support those passions?

Love is a choice

photo credit: JazzmYn* via photopin cc

photo credit: JazzmYn* via photopin cc

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less and less comfortable with the term “falling in love.” To me, it suggests an accidental, undesired occurrence. I know, I know, for you hopeless romantics, “falling in love” is a bigger than life, cosmic, explosion of gratification and fulfillment and you no doubt feel as though it just happens without intent, without logic, like a strong wind that rises up and knocks you over, but I contend that there are some definite choices being made (or that should be made) when one “falls in love.”

Many believers are committed to making their marriages permanent. But that’s only the first step. The best thing you can do, once you’ve decided to make marriage permanent, is to make it good. And the only way to make it good is to resolve that you are no longer two people but one, that all decisions need to be made with “us” and “we” as the focus, not “you” and “me.” And that takes a willingness for self-sacrifice that, humanly, we don’t have, which is why so many marriages end up miserable and broken. But by seeking God’s help to overcome our innate selfishness, God can use our marriages to mold us into his own self-sacrificial nature; in other words, to conform us into the image of his Son.

Keep your priorities straight

Your spouse (not your children) are your first priority and responsibility. I know, I know, those little people demand a LOT of your attention and you must nurture them and teach them how to navigate this world, but that doesn’t mean your spouse should take a back seat until your children are grown. In fact, if you neglect your marriage while you’re raising your children and pour all of your energy into them by taking them to this class and that activity, your children will reap the unfortunate benefits of that decision.

God’s perfect mate for you

I saw a  great tweet from Tim Keller recently:

This is so true. People tend to worry far too much about “compatibility” whether it be sexual, emotional or intellectual compatibility. People are not naturally compatible. They may have a natural attraction, but attraction is not compatibility. Compatibility is a choice, you much choose to be compatible with someone.