Today’s devotional is written by Lori Steinkamp Lassen. She is our only daughter, who has been married to her husband, Scott for 28 years. Lori is the mother of four children, and has worked with the ministry for many years. May her devotional deepen your spiritual walk with the Lord. – Charlyne
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1
2023 didn’t go according to our plan. We had a plan, but that plan didn’t involve sickness, endless days in the hospital with our youngest daughter, hurt, or pain. Watching our plan crumble allowed us to look more intently at Jesus as we navigated the year.
How did your year end up? As we start a new year, how are you feeling?
Are you weary?
Are you excited for what is to come this year?
Are you filled with fresh ideas for ways you can improve your marriage?
Was this year challenging in your relationship?
As we look to the start of a new year, this is a perfect time to get alone with your spouse and set some intentions in your relationship. Things may not go according to your plan, but taking the time to dream and plan together will help as you navigate the upcoming year. I wanted to share one method my husband and I have used to focus on our relationship. I heard Christy Wright talk about this method, which worked great for us.
Plan a special date night to set some goals and intentions for your family. You don’t want to surprise your mate with the idea, so talk about the plan beforehand. You can choose a favorite restaurant to eat dinner at before your talk or order food and make it a memorable evening at home. All good planning sessions begin with great food. J Give your spouse time to mentally prepare for what is ahead.
Pray together – Ask the Lord to help you honor Christ and one another through your discussion. Pray that God will reveal ways to honor Him this year through your time, resources, talents, family, and career.
We each had a journal in which we each took turns writing the answers to our questions. The thought was that we could add to these books each year and reflect on the ways God had changed us. You can take turns writing out your answers to each section and then take time to share your comments. Don’t rush the process.
What did you get right in 2023? What have you both been doing well over the last year? Where have you seen success in your marriage and family? After you each read your list, add to it and share some things you saw they did right.
What did you get wrong in 2023? What lessons did you learn? What mistakes were made in your marriage and family? This will take some humility and honesty as you reflect on mistakes you may have made. It will also take grace as you listen to your spouse’s honest answers. List things you don’t want to repeat going into the new year. The goal is not to have a time of spouse-bashing but to learn from each other and grow from the wins and losses.
What are your top priorities in the next three months? Choose a few things you want to see take priority in the first few months of the year. These are the things you will focus on, even if it means sacrificing something else. Those could be physical, relational, financial, or even household goals.
What doesn’t matter right now? What do I lose time to that isn’t a priority? For example, do you need to reduce your TV time or the bad habit of staying up late? Don’t forget about that humility and grace that needs to overflow for some of these topics.
What boundaries do we need to set in this season to protect the things that matter? Where can you make a strategy to protect the list of things you want to accomplish and invest time into? How can you change your life to make that dream a reality?
Thinking back to your priority list, get specific about some things you want to do this year with your time, talents, and resources. Do you want to take a family vacation or start a new hobby? You may need to plan a regularly scheduled date night. How can you budget your money differently to make some of your priorities a reality? Make a list of goals that align with the priorities you listed.
The benefit of each person taking the time to write their list and then share it out loud is that one person doesn’t dominate the conversation. Every couple usually has a planner and a free spirit. The planner will love this exercise, but the free spirit may not understand why it is essential to have this discussion. Be patient with each other. Don’t get frustrated if your list is thought out and 10,000 words and your spouse only gives one-word answers. You are starting a beneficial process of communicating.
It is also important to understand that agreeing to give up something in this season of life doesn’t mean you’ll never do it again. You and your spouse are just deciding what is a priority right now.
I pray that this exercise will be something you and your spouse look forward to each year. You may even consider revisiting your list every quarter. Enjoy the moments of bragging about your spouse and expressing gratitude for how they serve your family well.
What would you add to this list? Comment below and share your ideas.
As you are considering year-end gifts, we would ask you to prayerfully consider supporting the work of Rejoice Marriage Ministries financially.
God can take your gift and multiply it for His glory.
Thank you for helping us work to see divorce eradicated. There is hope for hurting or dead marriages! Will you help us? ~ Charlyne