For our mother's group this morning, we invited an older woman, Lois Jarman, to lead a discussion on strengthening marriages. Lois is one of those women who just glows and I was inspired by the ideas she brought and the things she discussed. I love being able to learn from women who are further along in life than I am. She's been married 57 years (I think that's what she said) and her husband is also wonderful.
From my memory, here are the things she discussed:
* Find things that you enjoy doing together as a couple. For her and her husband, they loved music and tennis. Her husband played basketball for BYU and she enjoyed attending his games. They sang a lot during their courtship, because she was taking piano lessons and he'd meet her at her practice room. They continued singing as a family every Sunday together and even today when the family gathers, they sing. She brought copies of their two favorite songs, Desert Pete and Let's Go Fly a Kite.
* Pray together morning and night.
* Make Family Dinner Time a priority. They would make sure the kids were home to eat together and they'd have lots of conversation, whether about what the kids were learning at school or about current events. As her children have grown up, they've continued to have family dinners, only now its on Sunday nights. Instead of having all 4 of the 6 kids who live nearby over all at once, they decided it was better to have more individual time with each family, so each family has one Sunday a month that they come over for dinner. They eat and sing Desert Pete and enjoy each other.
* Family Home Evening should be a priority. They had charts they used for assignments. Every three months, her husband would take a night and interview each child individually. Once a month they'd have a family council and discuss their budget and get the kids on board for the things they were saving for.
* Lois Jarman said she asked her husband what had helped their marriage the most and he told her that she had always been very positive about the things that bothered her. When she had a problem or something that offended her, she wouldn't let it fester, but would approach him lovingly and positively about it and work it out. He never felt criticized. She said she used the same approach with her children. She tried always to use positive statements rather than negative ones -- instead of "Don't do that," she'd try to say, "I would like it if you would . . . "
* Pray about your concerns for your children and the decisions you make as a family.
I loved listening to Lois Jarman talk about her life and family and I was impressed with both the simplicity of her advice and how profound it was. I felt inspired to make some changes in our family and marriage as a result of what she said. I realized I need to be more positive and less critical and that my husband and I need to get back to doing our nightly meetings. I also need to make more of an effort to jump start conversation at dinner. We eat together every night, but no one talks much.
What have you done to make your marriage a priority? What do you and your husband like to do together?