Three Ways to Cultivate Adventure in Your Marriage
Why do we need adventure? And how in the world is adventure an essential part of a thriving marriage? The truth is, we’re all wired for adventure. No one wants to get to the end of their life still holding a long list of things they wish they had done. We all want to look back with gratitude and marvel at all the incredible adventures we got to experience in our life together.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all have specific dreams and desires for our life that are planted deep within us but that we choose to ignore for a number of reasons. Reasons that can be fully justified, yet not rationalized. But a life worth living needs a good dose of adventure.
When we stop adventuring, when we stop risking, we actually stop growing. When we allow fear or comfort or apathy to keep us from growing and changing and trying new things together, we run the risk of rusting out.
Water Their Dreams
Do you know your spouse’s dreams? What are their greatest passions? When was the last time you asked? Take some time this week to listen to your spouse’s dreams or to help them uncover them for the first time. Look for clues. It could be something as simple as a passing comment or the way their eyes light up doing something they love. Great adventures are born when we begin to look for those small insights into one another and choose to take them seriously.
We each enter marriage as a whole person, carrying dreams, talents, and desires of our own. Having a thriving marriage means caring about and taking seriously the dreams for our life together that we both carry. Remember, it is impossible to love someone well without entering into their world. The healthiest couples take the time to find out their spouse’s dreams and then partner with them to bring those dreams to life.
Having a thriving marriage means caring about and taking seriously the dreams for our life together that we both carry.
No one’s opinion and support means more to them than yours. No one. We have been given the unbelievable honor and sobering responsibility of being the most powerful person in our spouse’s life. Their dreams are tender things. We must be careful and wise as we wade alongside them into the delicate ecosystem of their deepest dreams and desires.
Thriving couples believe that there is room enough in their life for both people—for both sets of dreams. The truth is, if you ignore your spouse’s dreams and desires long enough, they will eventually stop trying to tell you, and either their dreams will die or they will find someone else who will listen to and value them. Seeing your marriage as an opportunity for adventure means listening for the dreams God may be calling you to pursue together.
Once you know your spouse’s dreams, you can become a part of bringing those dreams to life.
What are some ways you can begin to water their dreams and watch them grow? Does she love to paint? Do you want to travel more together? Start a garden? Go on more dates just the two of you? What can you do to make these things a reality? You’ll be amazed at the love that can grow in your relationship simply by showing your spouse that you’re willing to support their dreams.
Maybe you’ve been feeling God stirring something in you for a while now, an invitation into a brave, new adventure. What is it that keeps you from saying yes? As pastor Tyler Staton says, “Your comfort zone robs you of way more than it gives you.” Practicing adventure does not have to be something as drastic as moving across the country or as life-changing as an adoption. It can be anything the Lord is stirring in your heart: volunteering at the local homeless shelter, mentoring a younger couple, or committing to write that book. Or it could be as simple as praying the prayer that informs the Lord that you are ready for whatever adventure He has planned for you.
I love what Irish poet John O’Donohue writes:
There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense our desires are the messengers of our unlived life, calling us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells!
Adventure can look as small as trying out something new together. Call a sitter and surprise him with a romantic night at a new hotel, or invite that new couple over for dinner. Whether it’s stepping out to start a new small group or trusting God to start a new company, you develop the rhythm of adventure together by saying yes, following God’s lead as a couple, and trusting Him for the outcome.
Give Permission to Change
We can be married to many different versions of the same spouse throughout our life together. Neither of us is meant to remain stagnant. We’re constantly changing and growing, moving and shifting, hopefully becoming more and more who we truly are, someone who looks more and more like Jesus. It’s one of the greatest gifts of marriage! We get a front-row seat to the wild adventure of our spouse’s life. What a gift we can be to each other when we choose to freely offer the support, encouragement, and room to watch each other fly.
A Little Bit of Our Story
When I first met Jenni as a young twentysomething in the early 2000s, she was singing in a Christian pop band (think NSYNC and Britney Spears), dancing on stage wearing pleather pants and a headset mic. Not kidding. But before long, she traded her pleather pants in for her beloved blue jeans, discovered a stack of spiritual formation books, and was never the same. Today, I am happy to report, she’s way more of the tree-loving, granola-making, James Taylor–listening, Henri Nouwen–reading Jesus hippy that we all know and love. When I see her now, I’m seeing someone who’s way more settled in herself than the young Jenni I first met. But it takes a long time, and many years of trial and error, to discover who we truly are. We must give each other grace, permission, and support along the way as we try on new things to see what fits.
Throughout our marriage I have been an MTV reality-TV personality, a traveling speaker, a pastor, a professional yo-yo-er (true story), and an entrepreneur, just to name a few. These days, at forty, Jenni and I are both much more comfortable in our own skin, with a much clearer idea of who we truly are and what God’s called us to do with our lives. But it has been quite a winding path with many twists and turns to get us here.
Thriving couples give each other permission to change and grow while still holding true to the commitment to fiercely love one another along the way.
A life of adventure doesn’t have to mean hanging off a cliff every day (although I suppose it can). It means that we commit to each other not to fall asleep to our own lives, to fiercely care about the flourishing of each other’s souls, and to support each other’s dreams as they shift and change along the way. It means our lives are filled with the good stuff of life, the stuff that energizes us, propels us forward, and sparks curiosity. It means stepping in and showing up to the moments of our life—not just skimming through it, but living fully present to all of it, saying yes to new experiences, new adventures, and new opportunities at every turn.
Choose adventure together. Watch your marriage come alive.
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesian 5:14
When’s the last time you felt completely alive?
When’s the last time you took a risk together?
Ask your spouse this week what some of their deepest dreams are. Think of some ways you can begin to water their dreams and watch them grow.
Brainstorm with your spouse a handful of new things you’ve each been wanting to try. Make it a goal to try at least one per week.
Let’s keep the conversation going.
@jennigraebe @chrisgraebe @navpressbooks
@jennigraebe @chrisgraebe @navpresspublishing
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