What investments can you make now in your marriage to receive a long-term pay-off?
1. TIME The first one and maybe the most important one is the time we invest in our marriage. What does that look like?
We highly advocate a daily, weekly, and yearly time investment. Daily: at least 15 minutes each day for eye-to-eye, undivided attention to each other, sharing about your day or something on your heart. For people with small children or for those who have different work/school schedules, even 15 minutes may be a real challenge. But it is vital to the health of the marriage and to the emotional health of each spouse.
Weekly: a “date” night, at least three hours of only the two of you doing something fun together - no friends or family, no heavy discussions, no talk about finances or other problems - the kind of dating you did before you got married.
Yearly: time away from home for at least 3 days without children or friends or other family members. This time doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is a time to be together without interruptions, no work, not being constantly accessible to others.
2. GRATITUDE The importance of communicating gratitude and appreciation to your spouse cannot be emphasized too much.
Showing appreciation to our spouse for who he is in his character is part of gratitude. And thanking your spouse for what she has done for you specifically throughout the day communicates to her that you notice what she does, what she does is important, and that are glad that she does it.
3. EMOTIONS We are all connected emotionally to our marriage whether we recognize it or not. But does everyone invest emotionally into the marriage? What does it mean to invest emotionally?
Emotional investment means that I am willing to be vulnerable emotionally; I am willing to risk hurt. I will take risks in expressing my emotions to my spouse. I will take the time to listen to the heart of the emotions of my spouse, even if it means that it is painful to me.
Emotional investment also means that I try to understand how my words and actions affect my spouse emotionally. Also, I am sensitive to how he/she is feeling.
4. MONEY Many of the previous points contain parts that can cost money (e.g. - a long weekend away). Are you willing to make your marriage a priority financially?
What are the potential risks and what is the possible return if I invest in my marriage?
The risks are greater for not investing in your marriage than they are for investing. To ignore the principle of making investments in your marriage can lead to drifting apart, vulnerability to the attention of others, escapes into alcohol, spending too much money, a hard heart, and even divorce.
Most people want to know “what’s in it for me?”
Many people invest in their marriage for the purpose of getting their spouse to change. But the investment can have a personal pay-off whether the other person changes or not. Jesus said that it is better to give than to receive. The practice of giving brings personal joy, regardless of the response from the other person.
Rare is the person who does not draw closer to a spouse who invests time, gratitude, emotions, and money into the marriage. The pay-off is a long-term marriage, full of love, satisfaction, and joy.