My wife and I recently booked a vacation. It was a first for us. We’ve been married 16 years and for the first time it was just her and I, without the kids, by ourselves for 7 days. We were so excited!
As we made our plans, we discovered there was an opportunity to go diving. I was excited about the opportunity, but I have to admit the thought of being under water between 50 to 90 feet was a little unnerving. We decided to get full certification prior to our trip; Angie and I both felt like this was the safer option.
Some of primary skills I learned during my scuba training were about preparing me for worst case scenarios. What if your respirator gets knocked out of your mouth? What if your mask gets knocked off? What if you run out of air? The scenarios go on and on. The goal of all of this training is to help you remain calm and correct the problem, instead of panicking and swimming for the surface (which can be VERY dangerous).
On the evening of one of my diving lessons, it dawned on me that most people enter into their relationships without any training or planning for problems. We all head into relationships thinking about the excitement and beauty of what is to come, never taking the time to realize there are some real pitfalls in relationships. It doesn’tmatterwho you are, if you’re married or planning to get married, at some point you will experience relational struggles. Too many couples today aren’t prepared; they panic, and they swim for the surface ending their relationship…just trying to get a breath of fresh air.
Here are some practical dive tips that can help couples have more success in their marriage:
Get Training and Be Prepared
In Diving —You need to be trained, you need to know what equipment is necessary for a safe dive, know how to use the equipment, read the gauges, and know the warning signs of dangerous conditions. You start by using the equipment in a swimming pool, so it’s not life threatening if you make a mistake. Then, once you get more comfortable, you move to the open water for more training.
In Relationships — This is really unfortunate, but many parents aren’t actively teaching their kids to have good relationship skills. Angie and I are constantly talking with our kids about their relationships and those they see around them. We also talk about the consequences of bad relational choices. It is our sincere hope that our kids will avoid some of the heartache, and baggage their parents brought into our marriage by things they can learn from us now.
If you aren’t married, start learning now. We know that individuals with a healthy relationship with God, self, and others have a better foundation for a successful marriage. Start training now; grow in each of these relationships now before you have someone else in your life.
If you’re already married, go to seminars, read books, join a small group. Whatever you do, find a way to learn some skills to help you in your relationship. Understand your fear dance, your core fears, your spouse’s core fears and the most effective ways to break the unhealthy cycles that can damage your marriage (These are NIM concepts available in the DNA of Relationships or the DNA of Relationships of Couples).
Have a Plan
In Diving — You and your dive partner discuss the details of the dive. How deep is the water, how deep will you dive, how long you will dive, what are the surroundings and what are the conditions of the water.
In Relationships —Have a plan to have a healthy marriage. What are the things that you are committing to do for the health of your marriage? Plan date nights, have devotionals together, pray together, be intentional.
In Diving — You always dive with a partner. You also check each others equipment and are prepared to assist in the case of an emergency. If your dive partner runs out of air, you’re there as an alternate air source.
In Relationships — We should have friends around us that we can trust. Make sure you are ready to use the equipment designed to sustain you and that it is in working order. Too many are looking for their spouse to sustain them and aren’t experiencing the type of relationship with the Lord that allows them to be full, whole and healthy regardless of whether or not their spouse is in a healthy place.
Now I am not a counselor, but I work with some of the most talented marriage counselors, and each of them will tell you they have struggled in one way or another. However, their training, close friends and ability to not panic and work through their issues sees them through.
Just remember, before you dive deep in your marriage, make sure you are prepared for the journey of a lifetime. God has some amazing things in store for you and your spouse!
Psalm 16:8- I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,I will not be shaken.
Copyright © 2013 National Institute of Marriage.