Happy New Year!
I am a fan of January! It's the beginning of a new year, a chance for a fresh start, a new perspective, and renewed vigor. It's a time when doing math is exhilarating! Yes, I said doing math!
Years ago I became disillusioned with making resolutions because they never resulted in sustainable change in my life. I would burst out the starting gate full throttle, very quickly burn out and eventually quit. Therefore, I searched for a new perspective on how to approach the freshness of each New Year. Rather than thinking of resolutions as decisions to do or not do something, I see them as opportunities to solve problems, and when I think of problem solving I think of math.
I can’t explain why, but working to solve problems elicits more interest, desire and stamina in me than merely trying to stop/start doing something. Those characteristics are invaluable tools for achieving results with relationship resolutions, so I hope you will jump on my bandwagon and emphatically exclaim with me that January is an exhilarating time to do math!
In the first chapter of Genesis God created man and woman in his image, blessed them, charged them to be fruitful and multiply, and gave them governance over all creation. Doesn’t that sound like an equation for an awesome marriage?
God most certainly set the stage for marriage to be awesome, but one need only read through Genesis chapters 2 and 3 to see how quickly the marriage made in paradise was damaged by deception, fear, disappointment, shame, and blame. Thousands of years later our marriages are still stalked by these shrewd enemies, but the good news is that God’s foundational equation still stands firm no matter how on-track or off-track we find our marriages.
When making relationship resolutions I believe the first step is to return to God’s equation for marriage. While the form of the equation is constant, the variables are as unique as God’s relationship with each of his children. Below is a sample process to help you define your variables, but the key to success in this step is approaching each one with introspection (Lord, help me see me!), evaluation (Lord, what’s most important?) and visualization (Lord, help me envision our marriage through your eyes) to create an equation that will work for your relationship.
Step 1: Define your variables.
Our marriage relationships were designed to mirror God’s relationship with humanity.
- Does my marriage “look” like God?
- Am I a reflection of God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace in my marriage?
- How can I look more like God in my marriage?
Our marriage relationships were designed to be fruitful (produce good results) and multiply (positively impact others).
- What good things have happened in my life and my spouse’s life as a result of our union?
- How can I love and support my spouse in a way that empowers them to be their best?
- Are others affected positively by our marriage? (children/ friends/co-workers/other couples)
God has given us the authority to reign over and dominate anything that comes against the well being of our marital relationships.
- Am I taking control of situations/habits/forces that could negatively affect my marriage?
- Am I speaking life or death concerning my spouse/marriage?
- How do I “think” of my spouse?
Step 2: Create Your Equation.
Once you have identified your unique variables, insert them into God’s equation.
Your finished product may look something like this:
(Being more patient and understanding) + (Looking for opportunities to encourage my spouse and join a small group) + (Intentionally trying to see situations from my spouse’s perspective) = Awesome Marriage!
Step 3: Do the Work!
As in mathematics, once the variables are in place it's time to do the work. If you’ve been diligent and transparent in the previous step you will have an outline of what needs to be done and will need only work out the details. Using the example above, the work may entail researching strategies for practicing patience, searching for a list of creative ways to be more encouraging, finding an online love language quiz, or reaching out to church leadership or other couples to locate/establish a small group.
Also similar to mathematics, in marriage there is always more than one way to arrive at a desired result. If your first attempts were not as successful as you’d like, or if your variables change, you can always go back to God’s equation and start again.
If you feel that your marriage has somehow veered off-track, doing the math will help you identify areas in need of improvement and reveal strategies to get you back on-track. Even if your marriage is on-track and on course, doing the math can bring to light creative ideas for next level awesomeness in your marriage.
As you construct your relationship resolution my wish for you is a more clear understanding of the spouse God created you to be, an unwavering determination to become that person, and growth in your marriage that far exceeds your wildest expectation. Get excited about doing the math and watch the awesomeness that God desires for your marriage come forth like never before!