As a husband, you need to keep dating your wife; that is intentionally spending quality time together in order to maintain the freshness of the marriage.
To those who are married, what are the strongest encouragements or strongest points of exhortation that you could give as you look back on what you have learned and are leaning in your own marriage?
Mack: Well, in another two months, my wife Linda and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. And it’s like a vapor. I can remember so vividly the spring of 1978 when we were engaged, and then our wedding and our honeymoon and the first year. And it’s like a vapor. Where have 40 years gone? Anybody that’s been married five years can think, “Man, these five years have passed quickly.” So, what I would say to that is pretty basic, but it’s deep, and it’s foundational. I’ve learned to keep dating my wife intentionally. We went to dinner the other night. And then we saw the movie, “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s a movie about the song. It was a movie about a conversion of a godless father – very moving. We went on a date – Linda and I did; being together intentionally. We had six children and ten grandchildren and busy ministry, so the busyness of life and work can rob us of the intentionality of making sure – time together. And so even in the last 2 or 3 years, we intentionally make time together – a date. And that can be going out to coffee. Or it can be an overnight getaway.
So I’ve learned that marriage is relational and any relationship is maintained by time, by incarnational – being together, hearing one another, talking. New Year’s Eve – I never stay up till the new year. I can’t. For years. The last time I can actually remember doing it was when the new millennium started in 2000. I was so intrigued to see if the idiots when the world didn’t come to an end and Y2K happened, how they’d react. So, I stayed up. But since 2000 till this year New Year’s, I’m a 10:00 guy. – my body shuts down. I go to bed normally. So my wife said, “Honey, let’s stay up together this year.” So, I said, “Okay, I’ll try.” And so, we were home alone in our pajamas, fire blazing, it was 15 degrees outside. And so we put on a Hallmark movie which is couples. So I got into it and it kept me awake. And then Linda and I would talk, and I’d get sleepy. I’d go outside in the 15 degrees with no coat on for about 30 seconds, wake up, and so I stayed up. We saw the new year end together. And the whole point was being together, enjoying the moment, and loving each other in a relational way. And so, I think couples have revival of that. You know, there are cycles you go through where it’s easy to begin to unconsciously neglect one another. You don’t make a habit of saying, “Honey, I love you,” or whatever. Or really connecting each day, each evening. So, I think that’s the backbone of the marriage staying fresh and real.
Well, how should I say it? I really believe the man is a key to this because wives that love their husbands want to be led. And they’re more relational by nature. And men are go-getters. And they can get blind spots to realizing I’m not being sensitive to my wife. And we have to learn experientially – and it doesn’t even take big amounts of time – I’ve got to give quality time – sit down, being together, “Honey, how are you doing?” Always maintaining a connection. Always assuring them in their own love language – maybe that’s conversation; maybe that’s hugs; maybe that’s listening; maybe that’s sharing what you’ve gotten out of the Scriptures that day; maybe that’s a date. You do it. And that’s a spiritual thing to do. It’s investing in your wife. And it’s like an oil change in your car. You don’t do it for 20,000 miles, guess what? That’s kind of a rude analogy as far as marriage, but you see what I’m saying. That’s the foundational stuff for me. And when I see that my wife has a lot on her plate or something, I’ll just remember, what could I do around the house that will help her? So, I’ll come in and the dishes the night before didn’t get washed, I do them. So she doesn’t have to do it. I see a bunch of clothes out of the dryer laying on the couch. I’ll say, well, you know I could fold those towels for her. I do it. And so, it’s little ways to love her and serve her. And so it’s those things we can grow and learn. It just makes us a loving husband. And it maintains the freshness of the marriage.