Defend Your Marriage: Give It a Mission

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Couples sometimes ask, “What are the two or three things we need to pay attention to in order to have a successful marriage?” Although relationship success can only be defined by the couple, my typical response to hundreds of people who’ve sat on my couch: “You need to actively live out your written marriage mission and intentionally strive to meet your spouse’s primary marital needs.” Everything else within the marriage can be managed.

Marriage mission and fulfilled marital needs work together synergistically to prevent couples from uttering the words, “I want a divorce,” and instead asking, “What do we need to do to get our relationship back on track?” Divorce in not an option, because husband and wife already know the purpose of their marriage and are intentionally trying to support their spouse’s needs. I believe we’d see a sharp decline in divorce rates, if more couples were required to submit their marriage mission statement when they applied for a marriage license.

What does a Marriage Mission Do?

The concept of a marriage mission is completely foreign to most couples, unless of course, they’ve sat on my big, comfy couch. You’ve probably heard of a mission statement for companies but never for a marriage. A mission statement is just a purpose statement. God made each of us for a purpose, and when two people are joined in matrimony, their marriage also has a purpose within God’s Kingdom.

By God’s design, the marriage relationship is the most important earthly relationship. All other relationships spring forth from the marriage: family, community, and world. When you choose to marry, without a doubt, you will have trials and tribulations. By Satan’s thinking, if he can take down the marriage, he can take down the family. Your marriage is the target for the Devil’s attack, and your best defense is a solid definition and understanding of your marriage mission.

Couples without a Mission Statement

Without a formal mission statement, many couples become distracted and husband and wife start to live parallel lives. It’s not uncommon for wives to focus on the home, raising the children, while the husband goes out to make the money. Although the couple’s intentions are honorable, soon both can slowly start to feel like strangers, unfamiliar with each other’s worlds.

The compass that helps a husband and wife take their marriage through the storm is a mission, and the glue that keeps them connected is the knowledge that each is meeting the other’s marital needs. When connected, spouses easily turn toward each other for support as opposed to away. When one is weak, the other is strong; they are united. Without a mission, it’s easy to fold and give up when the going gets tough.

How Do You Create a Mission Statement?

Creating a mission statement first starts with understanding why God created you and what you’re called to do. You can then explore together how God can use your marriage.  A few questions husband and wife can ask:

  1. What has God called me to do?
  2. What overlaps with my spouse’s purpose?
  3. Where can our strengths be multiplied together?
  4. What are we both good at? How can we put that to use?
  5. How can our strengths and weakness be combined so we have an arsenal of talents?
  6. What core values do we share? How are we different?
  7. What are we passionate about together?
  8. What do I see that is broken in the world and needs to be fixed?
  9. When I pray, I hear God telling or showing me his heart for fill in the blank?
  10. When I worship, I hear the Holy Spirit telling or showing me fill in the blank?

Your mission statement should consider all areas of your life together, because Satan will seek to enter your marriage through the weakest.

  1. Your health
  2. Your family and close friends and church community
  3. You career
  4. Your finances
  5. Your physical setting & lifestyle
  6. Your spiritual relationship with God
  7. Your ministry

These areas are finely inter-connected. Your career can impact your finances, and your health can impact your career. Define together how you will both enhance and protect your marriage. No one is immune from struggle, but how we respond makes all the difference. How well are you prepared for invasion and what weapons have your brought to battle. Anticipate the enemy, have a plan, and build your marriage as a fortress.

Have fun with your mission statement! When you complete it, I’d love to hear from you. Send me your marriage mission statement to coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com, so I can celebrate with you. If you need help in creating your marriage mission statement, let’s have a conversation. Reach out to 281.793.3741.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. If you’d like to explore relationship or marriage coaching, you can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Take To Successfully Blend a Family?

stepfamily-living-1-508x508When engaged couples are in love, their euphoria can sometimes cloud how accurately they see other family members’ feelings about their upcoming marriage. This especially holds true when a couple is blending kids and ex-spouses from previous relationships. Divorce doesn’t separate families; it only re-arranges them. When a woman marries a man with dependent children, she is now in relationship with not only her husband, but his kids, and his ex-wife. A marriage that blends families presents two critical questions for a couple to answer:

  • Can a husband and wife, who have biological kids from previous relationships, put each other first above those children?
  • Do they have a vision, strategy, and plan to successful blend their families or are they going to just figure it out as they go?

Putting Your Spouse First

A God based marriage puts God first, spouse second, children third, and then other family and friends. When I take Christian couples through premarital coaching, one critical question I ask is whether each can put the other first above biological children.  There’s usually a lengthy pause with one or both saying they aren’t sure. I appreciate their honesty and encourage them to think about, answer, and share that answer with each other.

God designed marriage for husband and wife to become one flesh. Marriage is the foundational relationship that makes the rest of family relationships work and provides a legacy for children when they become adults. The marriage must be the priority relationship, so that the family works and dependent children understand that the world does not revolve around them which is an importance lesion to navigate adult life.

Family Vision

A vision and mission is important for any marriage, and I believe it’s even more important for couples who are blending families. Step-families have unique issues that must be managed which fully biological families don’t have to navigate. Both dependent and adult children wrestle with loyalty issues between biological and step parents. Many younger children feel that their worlds are turned upside down and they have no control over what goes on in their lives. They experience emotional overload which usually results in unexpected behaviors that draws the focus away from the marriage and naturally toward the children.

Couples who take a proactive, intentional, and inclusive approach will be more successful in integrating two families into one blended family. Blending families requires a degree of smarts, finesse, and preparation as well as respecting previously formed relationships. I suggest a couple take the time to create a vision and mission for their marriage and then develop a plan in how to integrate their families.

Next Step

Although 50% of marriages end in divorce, the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Seventy percent of second marriages end in divorce with many couples stating irreconcilable differences involving children from previous marriages as the major contributing factor.

If you’re thinking of marriage and want to get a head start on how to successfully blend your families, I suggest you reach out for premarital coaching. We can take a deep dive into how to best blend your new stepfamily.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

The Best of the 2018 XO Marriage Tour

Sandra Dillon: April 26, 2018


Love MarriageWhen did you last spend a day investing in your marriage? MarriageToday made it easy when it brought the XO Marriage Tour to Houston. If you didn’t attend, below are some key messages gleaned from marriage speakers Jimmy Evans, Dave and Ashley Willis, and Garrett and Andrea Booth:

  • Although God can only fulfill our most basic human needs for identity and purpose, marriage only works when spouses serve each other by trying to meet each other’s relationship needs.
  • Men look to their wives to fulfill their top needs of honor/respect, sex, friendship, and home support. Wives typically need their husbands to provide security (physical and financial), non-sexual touching, open/honest communication, and leadership.
  • Pride and partner domination typically interfere with a servant spirit and reflect a lack of respect. Spouses who dominate their partner don’t respect their better half, and vice versa. Dominant spouses need to stand down more and dominated spouses need to assert themselves. Why change? The health of children is at stake. The least mentally and emotionally healthy children are raised in female-dominated homes followed by male-dominated. The best marriages reflect loving leadership expressed in equal partnership with the husband getting an extra 1% when the situation warrants.
  • Spouse should refrain from criticizing their personality differences but instead celebrate how they expand their capabilities and influence. When differences require resolution, spouses must feel safe in the relationship to express their views without paying a price.
  • Over 85% of marriages end in divorce based on non-serious reasons such as disappointment in how spouses “feel” about the other. Emotions can feel right but be wrong. Spouses who make decisions independent of their emotions usually have the most satisfying marriages.
  • In marriage, two become one. Therefore, spouses should be naked (vulnerable) with each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Some marriages experience the F5 Marriage Tornado which starts with (1) frustration and escalates to (2) false assumptions, (3) fighting, (4) fatigue, and eventually (5) fantasizing. These steps lead to a feeling of hopelessness about the marriage.
  • The F5 Marriage Peace Plan is the strategic tool to battle the F5 Marriage Tornado. The plan starts with a couple sitting in (1) frustration, but who take intentional steps toward (2) forgiveness, (3) fixing thoughts on the positive, (4) focusing on God’s promises, and finally culminating with (5) finding peace.
  • Spouses should ask themselves whether they are a thermometer or thermostat in their marriage. Are they measuring the temperature of their marriage or controlling the output? Spouses should strive to be a thermostat.
  • The best marriages build something together and thrive under a marriage vision. A vision answers the question of why God put a husband and wife together. When spouses have a marriage vision, they (1) share goals and know where they’re going, (2) share the effort, (3) make decisions easier, (4) share successes, and (5) realize God’s blessing and provision. Marriage visions may adjust with major life events such as a change in health, jobs, and children’s life stages.
  • The key steps in undertaking a marriage vision is to get prepared, get away, and get real with each other. Definite signs that spouses need a vision are (1) marriage conflict, (2) feeling disconnected from each other, and (3) unresolved financial pressures.

There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, but you can certainly achieve a happy, harmonious, and purposeful marriage. I hope that you are living out many of these concepts. If not, ask me how I can help get you started on the journey toward a more fulfilling marriage.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com 

 

How to Create a Passionate and Purposeful Marriage

Marriage on MissionWhen I ask couples why they are getting married or why they chose their partner, they typically reply with phrases such as “because I love her,” “he’s my best friend,” “she’ll make a great wife and mother,” and “he has a great sense of humor.”  These personal attributes and feelings are all wonderful ingredients for a happy marriage.  When I ask the next question, “What is the purpose of your marriage?” the answer comes in a quizzical look.  Many couples have not answered this second question for themselves, having been captivated by their “in love” feelings for each other.  Helmenstine (2017) claims that oxytocin and endorphins fuel feelings of love for 18 months to 4 years.  When the love chemicals dissipate, what will excite and sustain your marriage?

Keeping the marriage alive!

Those who enter marriage blindly typically do not fare as well as couples who seek premarital coaching.  Parrott and Parrott (2016) share that ~ 40% of divorced couples claim that lack of pre-marriage preparation contributed to their divorce.  The unfortunate statistics are that 20% of first marriages end in divorce within 5 years and 32% by 10 years (Avvo, 2010).  The statistics are even higher for couples who marry more than once.  For the average couple the love chemicals are replaced with feelings of attachment and comfort.  Couples who thrive typically do so by adopting behaviors that love their spouse and reflect their marriage purpose.  Chapman (2015) asserts that love is not a feeling but a verb in which spouses should intentionally love their partners in ways that speak to them.  I propose that intentional love can be taken to a higher level by co-creating a marriage mission statement.

What is a marriage mission statement?

God has designed you for a purpose, and He has also called our marriages into a purpose?  If you are married, are you living out your mission?  Companies, ministries, and even individuals have mission statements, so why should your marriage be any different? The purpose of a marriage mission statement is to get clarity on what is important to you, help set a direction for your marriage, and provide grounding and guiding boundaries by which to live.

Now if you are saying, “It’s too late for us, because we’ve been married over 20 years,” I would respond that it is never too late to invest in your marriage.  Why?  Because a marriage mission is not about the past or present but entirely on a future vision.  What do you want your marriage to become?  Creating a marriage mission statement together is fun!  Plan for a series of dates where the two of you spend quality time asking each other questions and sharing your deepest desires.

How do we write a marriage mission statement?

Your mission statement is as uniquely created as you are with the freedom to design its content, length, and style.  The only criteria are it should excite you, align you as a couple, and give you sufficient clarity to know that you are living it.  A recommended approach to build the content is to answer and discuss a series of questions intended to help you define a vision and explore values.  If your marriage mission does not reflect your core values, the statement will likely be empty words on a piece of paper.  Common elements in a mission statement may include a vision, values, dreams, goals, and actions that support its purpose.  When you discuss your marriage vision and values, your mission and goals will tend to fill in the gaps to bring your statement to life.

Below is a sampling of questions to stimulate your thinking and conversation.  Do not let this list inhibit you from exploring other questions.  Your answers should reflect your passions and feelings involving God, family, community, and others.

Vision

  • Describe your ideal marriage. What elements, conditions, activities, and behaviors would describe it?
  • What do you dream of accomplishing? How would a marriage union help achieve that?
  • How has God spoken into the future for your life and marriage?
  • If your children were asked to describe your marriage, how would you want them to be able to answer?

Values

  • What causes are you willing to fight for?
  • What are some of your core values?
  • What are your non-negotiable behaviors?
  • Where do you invest the best of your time, energy, and money?

Mission

  • What Scriptures speak to your heart? How does God fit into your marriage mission?
  • What are you excited and passionate to share alongside your spouse?
  • What activities and accomplishments would describe your ideal marriage?
  • What do you want to teach your children through your marriage relationship?

Living out your marriage mission!

Once you have a mission statement that reflects and excites you as a couple, think of short- and long-term goals that reflect that mission.  What actionable steps can you take to move into your mission?  Take time to pray to God to ask Him what he would like you to do.  Ideally, you may want to select a Scripture that speaks to your marriage!

How will you share your marriage mission?

Dillon Marriage MissionI pray that you have fun creating a marriage mission statement, but I would suggest you do not stop there.  Your statement is a living and breathing manifestation of your future dreams.  Could you use an accountability partner?  I suggest you share your mission statement with other couples.  Find those who are equally passionate about their marriage to join you, or perhaps be a mentor to a couple who wants to take the same journey.  Get together twice a year, review your mission statements, and share how you are or are not realizing your goals.  Make it a double or triple date, share your successes and challenges, and be sure to ask for support.

When should we refresh our marriage mission statement?

Life and marriage are a journey of unexplored roads.  Your marriage mission statement may need to be tweaked when you reach major life milestones such as having a child, changes in career paths, and empty-nesting.  With many couples spending more on their wedding ceremony than they do investing in their marriage, I pray you will take the time to plan for the glorious purpose of your marriage.  What do you want to accomplish with your soulmate?  What do you want your marriage to reflect back into the world?  Your choices will decide!

References

Avvo. (2010). Marriage and divorce statistics. Retrieved from https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/marriage-divorce-statistics

Chapman, G. (2015). The five love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL; Northfield Publishing.

Helmenstine, A. (2017). The chemicals of love: Love chemicals and chemistry of love. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-chemistry-of-love-609354

Parrott, L. & Parrott, L. (2016). Saving your marriage before it starts assessment: Facilitator training manual.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and mentor with an extensive background in leadership and ministry, which provides her with the experience and relational skills to move individuals and couples to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, premarital/marriage, and finances.