One of my pet peeves — wow, when was the last time you heard that term? — is the notion that "marriage takes work." Some of you who have been reading this column awhile might be saying, "Oh boy, here he goes again." Yes, it is true that I have written more than just a few times that since I work all day, the last thing I want to do when I go home is work some more. What kind of life is that?
So may I suggest that rather than work, marriage takes focus, or perhaps attention, or maybe even intentionality? While you should never put your marriage on auto-pilot and hope all will turn out well, I hereby release you from the burden of thinking you have to work at your marriage to help it thrive.
One factor, I'm convinced, you really should focus on is how much fun you are having in your marriage. Life can get so busy at times and it's so easy to get caught up in that busyness that we forget to carve out times just for fun. And, that expression "find the time?" As they say in New Yawk (that is how it's pronounced back east) "forget about it!" Rather than attempting to "find" the time, may I suggest you determine to "make" or "take" the time to focus on each other and your relationship by engaging in fun activities.
Michelle Weiner-Davis is a woman I have admired for a long time as a warrior for the cause of healthy marriage. Her first book, "Divorce Busting," makes the point that if you are struggling in your marriage, you should go back and do the activities you were doing when you first fell in love and you'll quite likely find that love return.
When you first met each other, you naturally engaged in fun pursuits that required little or no effort. OK, so now that life has gotten more complicated, it may require some effort to have fun on a regular basis, but I can just about guarantee you the payoff will be well worth the investment.
If you have children, it is vital they be included in some family fun times, but please don't neglect those times for just the two of you. Let your kids complain it's not fair you're going out and leaving them with a sitter. They'll thank you for it later. I'm even proposing some getaways be for a weekend or even a week together as you focus on each other and your marriage. Every married couple should have childcare providers they trust who can give them a much deserved break on a regular and recurring basis.
Just in case you've forgotten how to have fun, or have fallen into the rut of dinner and a movie let me suggest some out-of-the box activities you may not have considered before.
One activity you could choose to engage in is to become site stewards through Salmon Ruins. You will undergo a three-hour training in how to help preserve and protect ancient artifacts or important places in our area that need to be preserved for coming generations. You will be assigned such a site and you assume the responsibility for checking in every so often and reporting on the conditions you find. To get more information on becoming site stewards you can call Salmon Ruins at 505-632-2013 or the program coordinator, Clay Johnston, at 505-632-8171.
Another fun activity is to go geocaching. For this activity, you will need a handheld GPS unit and a computer with Internet access. You connect the GPS to the computer and go to www.geocaching.com. Once there, you type in the zip code of wherever you happen to be and up will pop numerous locations where folks have hidden stuff.
I use the word stuff to assure you people are not hiding gold bars, Rolex watches or keys to Mercedes. They are hiding trinkets, but that is not the reason for the activity. It's where they are hiding them that matters and the thrill of the hunt as you set out to find these "buried treasures." Typically, they are near rock art panels or scenic vistas. Some involve hiking, some Jeeping, some a simple walk. You can read a description on the web site and choose one that fits for your interests and abilities.
Once you decide to make fun a regular feature of your marriage, you should have little trouble finding outlets to meet this important need. You might consider doing volunteer work together, such as becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. Did you know there are opportunities to be a Big Couple where you can model for a youngster what a loving, happily married couple looks like? By getting involved in the life of a young person, you will reap even more benefits than they. Thankfully this is not a competition, but truly a win-win experience.
If you have musical ability you could consider joining the Caliente Community Choir under the very capable leadership and direction of the shy and timid Virginia Nickels-Hircock and Robin Woodard. Those of you who know these enormously talented and fun-loving ladies are getting my dry wit with that description. I don't believe there is a shy or timid bone in either of them.
I can assure you that based on numerous testimonies I have received, this is a way fun experience to participate in individually or as a couple. I can personally attest that attending their concerts is a wonderfully entertaining and fun evening getaway. You can get more information by going to www.calientechoir.org.
I'll be sharing more tips on keeping fun in the forefront of your marriage tomorrow at 6 p.m. on KLJH 107.1FM. This is my weekly program TWOgether as ONE. If you've not yet tuned in let me invite you to set your alarm for every Monday at 6 p.m. to hopefully learn some worthwhile tips for having a great marriage.