June 27, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Creative dating

Special to The Gazette
Recently I found myself watching “The Breakfast Club” on TBS. In case you’ve never seen the movie you can probably catch it again this weekend, or the next or the one after that — TBS has an interesting habit of rerunning John Hughes films.

There’s a reason they do this, and I think it has a lot to do with people like me in their mid-30s who remember how much we identified with the film’s characters. So many of us found the transparent confessions of Claire, Andy, Allison, Brian and Bender to be ours. We all knew what it was like to have parents whom we felt “didn’t understand us,” and so we all vowed we would “never become parents like that.”

One of the observations I’ve made over the years, though, is how a reactive goal like this works against us, our marriages and (ironically) our parenting.

For instance, add up all the hours you spent this past month trying to be a good parent. Consider everything you’ve shuttled kids to, including school transportation, a trip to the store, extracurricular activities, fast food, social time and so on.

Now add up the time you’ve spent investing your marriage this month. Consider only the “alone times” when you and your spouse did something special and your kids weren’t a part of it.

If your household is like most, the kids get more attention than the marriage. Over time, we may become so focused on trying to “be there for our kids” we forget to invest in the marriage.

Maybe that’s why God offers an order of proactive priorities that trump any wisdom we unconsciously stole from the Brat Pack. In Ephesians 5-6, a rhythm is revealed for our relationships:

o First, God. (Ephesians 5:1-21) — The sacrifice/resurrection of Jesus Christ can restore our relationship with God. This isn’t just for heaven, but also to uncover your purpose in life. Imagine how that feeds into your relationships.

o Then, marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-33) — Once you understand the sacrifice of God, you and your spouse can become mutually sacrificial and fully committed to bringing out the best in each other for the long haul.

o Next, kids. (Ephesians 6:1-4) — Take note your children come third in this lineup. The best gift you can give insecure kids is a secure marriage made up of people secured in God.

o Finally, work. (Ephesians 6:5-9) — There are great verses in this passage about being a hard worker, but recognize any job should be filtered through the first three priorities.

Maybe that’s why I’m so energized that a dozen couples participated in a county-wide Creative Date Night last weekend. Sponsored by the Medina Marriage Coalition and hosted by Connection Church, the event included couples ranging from only months of marriage to those who’ve enjoyed one another for almost 20 years. Everyone received gift cards from Smoothie King, with special prizes handed out from Dominic’s and Panera Bread.

The night was a blast, from big group interaction to “conversation starter” cards that made travel times more intimate. We hit a local mall for something sweet to eat, shopped for an item $10 or less that both spouses could wear (my wife and I scored a $2 hat at the Disney Store), chose a book to read together and planned an upcoming special dinner on a budget.

If you missed out, you can download materials online (www.connection church.org) or come up with some of your own. The point is to do something of quality that enriches your marriage, whether it’s staying up late to tell jokes or watching your favorite TV show over candlelit milk and cookies. It’s important to keep the sentimental stuff going on, even if it looks different than it did when you were courting.
Which, for the record, you don’t ever have to stop doing — even if putting on your best clothes and taking your honey out for a night on the town means revealing Barry Manilow has raided your wardrobe.

Contact Myles at religion@ohio.net.