Newness is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Peeling the protective sticker off of the screen of a new phone is so satisfying. We enjoy newness so much that there’s even a phrase identifying the way that new cars smell! It seems to me that adults over the age of thirty even look longingly at how kids’ younger (newer) bodies work. It seems like they never have to warm up or stretch and that they can bounce right back up after falls or impacts that would leave most of us laying on the couch for a few hours, or even days!
As New Year’s Eve approaches, we’re all thinking about change and newness. Many people view the flipping of the calendar from 2023 to 2024 as the perfect time to do a little checkup to see how life is going and to identify areas where some adjustments are in order. Those adjustments often involve developing healthier habits, practicing better time management, developing more financial discipline, advancing in a career, or any number of other personal growth goals.
I’m all for taking the time to evaluate your current life trajectory and see whether you need to make some changes. But, as you can imagine, I hope change doesn’t stop with commitments (and recommitments) to discipline or to furthering a significant goal. I hope that you also commit to renewing your efforts in the areas of marriage and family. It is surprisingly easy to take our spouse or our kids for granted. After all, we see our family every day, and they know we love them.
But if you’ve fallen into the routine of just assuming your family knows that you love them, I hope you’ll let me convince you of the importance of taking proactive steps to improve these important relationships. Because the truth is that relationships take time and effort to maintain, even if they’re with people we see and talk to regularly. Things that seem minor can make a big difference.
Making a change from watching Netflix while you eat dinner sitting together on the couch to eating at the table and having a conversation as a couple or as a family can make a big difference. Going out with your spouse for a date night every other week can help break up some of the monotony of daily life. If these suggestions don’t work into your schedule or fit your family’s style, then make sure you find a way to connect that works for you. Maybe you go to a sporting event or museum and spend your quality time together enjoying a shared interest. Don’t get hung up on what activity you choose to do; the key is that you spend intentional time together.
When you are intentional about the time you spend with your family, the door will open for deeper connections. What starts off as a conversation about a shared interest in a certain team or a particular Pokémon could quickly turn into your spouse or child opening up about something they are struggling with. That would give you the opportunity to listen and connect on a deeper level. Making yourself available for these moments is what being a spouse, parent, or grandparent is all about! When you take time to create deeper connections, you’re putting yourself in position to speak into the lives of your loved ones. And when you do that, you are winning more often at home.