It’s been a week since I posted about time management. Honestly, I think I’ve done pretty well. Definitely less Fantasy Basketball, and definitely less TV. But this week was All-Star weekend, so there wasn’t as much Fantasy Basketball to follow. Also, My wife and I are trying to make a difficult decision in our life, so we have chosen to turn the TV off in the evenings to pray together. I’ve cut back on some time-takers—but funny enough, it has nothing to do with me purposefully managing my time!
This week of extended prayer with Lisa has been incredible. It’s reminded me of how far we’ve come in 8 years of being together—5 of those years being married. The Lord has done ridiculous amounts of work in the two of us, as a couple and as individuals. I can’t even fathom what the next 8 years will look like.
Up to now, nothing has been more difficult for me than being in a committed relationship. To look back on the arguments, fights, talks of divorce, and counseling is heart-breaking. Were we really like that? Did I really say those things to her? Were those thoughts really swirling around in my head?
I knew marriage would be hard. People told me it would be hard. When we got married everyone in my immediate family had at least one divorce on their record. I had witnessed the difficulties first-hand multiple times. Lisa and I even did pre-engagement counseling, knowing we were heading towards a wedding day. Before we met I had read at least five books on dating, and while we were dating I read two books on marriage. Then we read one together when we were engaged. Everything in me felt as prepared for marriage as I could possibly be.
Then, I said, “I do.”
Then, reality set in.
My goal here isn’t to go into all the turmoil. Simply put, nothing will challenge you more in life than staying committed to a spouse and working through your crap. What I do want to share is a secret I feel unlocked something huge in my marital relationship.
Just over a year ago, Lisa and I had been doing well for several months. Then something happened, and another thing happened, and another. It all piled up so high, and I bottled it in for so long, that it all came barreling out of me, onto her, without warning. Once our resulting fight semi-cooled down I spoke calmly and honestly from my hurting heart:
“We have read several books, we’ve gone to friends for counseling, we’ve gone to a professional counselor, we’ve been to a weekend marriage seminar, we’ve been to a week-long marriage conference, we have probably learned every practical tool and every stupid acronym there is for making marriage work. Why can’t we do any of it, Lisa? Why can’t we put into practice the things we know will help our marriage?”
It was silent for a few seconds.
Then I was suddenly reminded of a quick clip I’d seen of Dr. Phil. Statistically, we all know that over half of marriages end in divorce. Dr. Phil shared that couples who pray together have a divorce rate of 1 in 10,000. That is 0.001% of praying marriages that end in divorce. (Lisa and I had prayed together, and if anyone asked, I would tell them we “do” pray together. But I had to admit, it certainly wasn’t anything consistent.)
I broke the silence.
“We’re going to pray together every night no matter what, starting right now. Even if it’s a simple, ‘God, thanks for this day. We love you. Good night.’ kind of prayer. Even if we’re in a fight and it’s time for bed, we have to stop fighting and pray.”
It has been almost a year since that night, and I can tell you that this has completely revolutionized my relationship with my wife. Miraculously everything else we’ve learned in books and counseling and conferences started falling in place. In all honesty, it hasn’t been every night. But in a 30-day month we pray together probably 25 of those days, and God uses it! Some nights are 2 minutes, and other nights are 30, but we do all we can to keep making it happen. We even pray over the phone together when one of us is out of town for work.
Working in a large church, my heart is constantly breaking as I minister to students with divorced parents, or hear about another marriage falling a part. I wish every couple in the world could understand the power of praying as husband and wife. If you are married (or even thinking about marriage) praying with your spouse is the single, most important thing the two of you can do together. Put this into practice and let the Lord astonish you!