By Rodney and Selma Wilson
Married for 28 years, Rodney and Selma Wilson are sought-after leaders of Marriage Enrichment events, co-editors of HomeLife magazine and co-authors of Extraordinary Marriage.
There was a book written several years ago about a veteran sailor who launched by himself off the coast of Portugal heading to western Africa. Suddenly a storm hit. It was the storm. As he was abandoning his sinking boat he grabbed his life raft and a few other necessities. The sailor was officially "Adrift" (the title of his book by Stephen Callahan).
For 76 days this man floated. He survived, but he could not control where he wanted to go. He was at the mercy of the wind and the waves. The book concludes with his being picked up by some fishermen - in the West Indies.
A marriage that has no plan is a marriage adrift. It merely floats. It may survive, but like the sailor, it simply exists. The danger of a marriage in that shape (as so many are) is that the couple is at the mercy of the winds and waves of our society. And when your marriage is controlled by the political correctness of the world, that's a dangerous place to be!
On the other hand, a marriage that has a plan has focus. It isn't a perfect marriage, but it knows what it wants and both mates have laid out a strategy for getting there. That kind of relationship has purpose, and is extraordinary! It is led by the Lord, who wants the couple to have a full life together (John 10:10b). Plus, the God who wants this purposeful marriage for us is quite capable of providing it (Ephesians 3:20).
So how does a couple develop this marriage plan? They start with where they are today. Jot down some words to describe your marriage relationship right now. Don't judge. The words can be positive or negative. You are merely assessing where you two currently are. Here are some suggestions, but feel free to use your own: growing, silent, fun, disconnected, hopeful, confused, energized, drifting, wonderful, frustrated. You get the idea. Begin by discovering where you are.
Now, for those words you chose that indicate a need for growth, discuss what you'd like the outcome to be after working on them. Here is an example:
Preferred future: spend more time together, talking and doing life together.
Take a little time and dream up things that you would like to one day do with your mate. Dream big! At this point, don't get too practical here, like asking yourself, "How are we ever going to find time to do this?" Right now, just dream! Here are some examples:
Have a weekly date, write a book together, learn to snow ski, build a house, go on a mission trip, make decisions without arguing, buy a convertible, adopt a child, travel to Europe, live in another country, you get the idea! Whatever your dreams for your marriage, remember, God can do more. Much more!
Then, the planning begins. Together, look at one or two things you could begin doing in the next 30 days. Are there any you could complete in the next month? Make a "30-Day" category and write your action plans for the activity you want to begin or complete in the next 30 days.
Do the same for "60-Day" and "90-Day" categories. If needed, throw out an ambitious goal and put it under a "One-Year" category. Don't look now, but you are no longer drifting. Your marriage is beginning to find some direction. Your target is coming into focus. You are taking the first steps to develop a marriage plan!
May God's blessings be on your marriage as all three of you (you, your mate, and the Lord) develop His plan for your marriage. With His involvement, your marriage can truly become extraordinary.