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I began playing guitar at age five. I took lessons in a guitar studio in Rockford, Illinois. I was too small for an acoustic guitar (I don't think they had mini-guitars at the time). So, I started off on slide guitar.
I took lessons for two years. My parents, and my instructor, agreed I should stop. I did not want to practice, taking lessons was a waste of everyone's time. Lessons don't do a thing if you don't apply them.
When I was thirteen I wanted to play electric guitar. I bought a cheap guitar and began to practice. I wanted to play like the guitarists I heard on the radio. Desire always leads to discipline. I desired, therefore I worked hard at learning to play guitar.
Excellence at anything requires commitment. It's the same with marriage. If a person wants an excellent marriage they have to be intentional, and work at it.
One of the things Linda and I have done since we got married is have a regular Friday night date. Only weddings and funerals interrupt this. Plus, we had read many books on marriage, listened to audio teachings, attended marriage conferences, and led them. Even if a particular book is not that great, the simple act of discussing marital matters is marriage strengthening.
Developing a strong marriage takes a lifetime of time, focus, and investment. It's like mastering a foreign language: you either use it or lose it. Marriages erode over time if not attended to. Do not expect your marriage to stay the same if you neglect it.
Here are some books that have helped us along the way. Pick one and read it together. Discuss. Engage in continuing marital education. Don't expect instant results. Be gardeners who till the soil, plant the seeds, water the garden of your marriage, and trust God for growth.
Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.
Gary Chapman, Now You're Speaking My Language: Honest Communication and Deeper Intimacy for a Stronger Marriage.
Bill and Lynn Hybels, Fit to Be Tied: Making Marriage Last a Lifetime.
Walter Trobisch, I Married You.
Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage.
Paul Tournier, To Understand Each Other.
My recent book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.