Shelley has been a place of wisdom and help for me. She has been amazing at helping work through so many decision, both big and small in my life.
There have been times when I have not been able to think clearly and she has thought for me. There have been times when I wasn’t at my best and she has been my strength. I would have made a lot more bad decisions if I did not have her to lean on. There have also been times when I have been that for her.
But, then comes those moments when we are faced with a decision and neither one of us is at our best to know what is right.
Those are tough moments that I believe can be navigated well. I believe that because we learned the hard way.
That happened to us in 2006 while living in Boston. We had been walking through a 3 years stretch that included moving across the country to start a church. We experienced the birth of our first two children. We had deaths and near tragedies in our families. Ministry was as hard as it had ever been in my life. It was an amazing stretch of time but also a hard stretch of time. We were tired, to say the least.
During that year, we began looking for a “way out” of our circumstances believing that a change would make life easier. The big mistake was that we nearly isolated ourselves in the decision making process. When an opportunity came, we took it without any significant input from anyone.
Though we had great friends in our lives, we never really opened ourselves up to the counsel of another married couple.
Neither one of us was really in a place emotionally to make the important decision we were attempting to make. As a result, I believed we missed God in that decision and we paid the price for that. (See My Biggest Fan)
I regret that one decision more than any other we have made in our marriage.
There would have been so much value in having an older married couple in our lives that we trusted, that knew our marriage, and that we allowed to speak into our marriage.
I think of it like this. We go into marriage having no idea what marriage is really like. We had never made major life decisions like you do in marriage. We had never dealt with conflict like you do in marriage. We had never dealt with money like you do in marriage. Yet, for the most part, we go into marriage and attempt to do these things alone as a couple.
Married couples, especially those in their first few years of marriage, need the outside voice of a couple who loves them and is willing to speak wisdom into their marriage.
Here is the tricky thing:
To be completely honest though, because of my own pride, I am not sure that I would have welcomed that kind of input. I don’t know this for a fact, but my guess is that many men would feel the same. Men don’t like to “ask for directions” but we need to humble ourselves, admit we need them, and pull over and ask for help. The same is true for our marriages. We need to pull over and ask for directions.
If I could go back and have that kind of couple in our life I would have asked them things like:
1) What decisions should we be making now with our money that we don’t even know to make?
2) How do we make decisions when we can’t come to an agreement?
3) How do you fight?
4) Do you see anything in our communication or lack of communication that we may not be seeing?
Then, when big decisions, like a potential move across the country, are on the table I would want to ask them what they think. Does this make sense? Are we approaching it right? Should we even make this decision? Are there red flags?
I would want to be open and teachable when they would say things like, “We think you need to slow down.” “You two are not thinking straight.” “We don’t see this as a wise decision right now.” “Have you thought about it from this angle?”
I know that would have been hard, but I also know it would have been good.
If you are looking for that couple, then who should it be? These are my initial thoughts.
1) One that you believe sets a good example in marriage.
2) One that you can spend face-to-face time with on some kind of regular basis.
3) One that has already made some decisions in their marriage.
4) One that you trust will have your best interest in mind.
5) One that will be honest with you even if it is hard.
I believe that if I were humble enough and had pursued that type of couple to be in our lives, we could have made some much better decisions early on.
Now, we have that in our lives and it is refreshing and life giving.
I wish we would have done that early in our marriage. Better late than never.