I’ve been thinking about a Baptist Church in Memphis where we worked one Sunday night a long time ago. Can’t remember our connection—how we were booked. The pastor said, “Just don’t tell them you’re not a Baptist!” The word got out! What keeps crashing into my mind is an overheard phrase from the usher’s conversation prior to the service. They were talking about a mutual acquaintance:
“That boy better plant his fields.”
Anniversaries for me are surrounded by doubt and recrimination: “I could have done this better—I should have done this better.” I was not prepared for marriage. Never took a class, didn’t have many adult friends who were married and did not spend much time with my relatives who had good marriages. In those days, the words, “modeling family/marriage…” wasn’t part of the national conversation. For sure, I did not plant any marriage fields.
One of our friends congratulated us on our anniversary for “quite an accomplishment.” That has given me something to calculate. What did we accomplish? It has been my pleasure to have Carole in our publicity stills. She classes up the photo, but ministry accomplishments or failures are not the same as marital accomplishments. I’ve been proud to share the billing as parent and grandparent with The Lady. I know who gets top billing in those relationships. Those and many other “accomplishments” can happen just by being together, with little effort. Marriage is more than just surviving the years together, although that is worth celebrating.
A friend charged us with being co-dependent. I asked him what his point was. We share one brain and I get to use it on Tuesdays. Carole does an excellent job with stuff I don’t care about as well as with her own stuff. She is organized, I function in moderate chaos. We are a team.
The other day when we were discussing whether our anniversary was on the 29th or 30th or 31st, a newspaper article was at the center of my desk about A Mindful Marriage which is another way of saying, PAY ATTENTION—Plant your fields so you’ll have something to harvest.
A few years ago, we were on our way to lead a marriage retreat. Carole was talking and writing notes on the communication session. I reached over and turned on the radio. There is a marker on I-80 near Joliet that says, “Dean could have been killed here.”
The key component to “accomplishment” is intentionality. The mindful couple is aware of the moment and paying attention to it with connection, listening, asking opinion, vulnerability–“I’m fearful” or “That makes me feel happy,” compassion, asking questions like, “Did you sleep well?” or “Did you wake well?” And the most important question: “How can I help?”
Marriage Field planting:
- Plan time with your spouse. No TV, phones, books. Just each other.
- Make your spouse your priority.
- Continually learn about each other.
- Take time for affection.
- Learn something new together.
- Do your partner’s favorite thing often.
- Share a genuine compliment.
- Say ‘thank you’ often.
- Plan together.
(From writer Alison Bowen—Chicago Tribune. “A mindful marriage can reinvigorate relationship) Well worth the read! http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sc-fam-0721-mindful-marriage-20150708-story.html
The book The Mindful Couple is written by Darrah Westrup)
Carole, happy anniversary. I love you.
©2015 D. Dean Benton http://www.bentonministries.com/
Writer, Wonderer, Novice Field Planter