Trisha and I moved to Noblesville, Indiana in 2002 to start a church. Our desire was to reach people who were far from God, and help them find their way back to Him. We quickly learned through this experience that we LOVED helping people find their passion, and their giftedness. It was exciting to see someone discover how their passions and gifts could make an eternal difference in this world. We developed a process in our church that didn’t leave people on the sidelines, but equiped and unleashed them to contribute to God’s bigger vision for their life. This process was critical to the life, health and growth of our church. We never considered it could and should be applied in our marriage.
Restoration Principle #5- God has given you and your spouse passions, gifts and talents that if discovered and applied, in your marriage, will drastically increase your joy in your relationship.
Before Trisha and I were separated, one of the most consistent arguments we had centered around meals. Trisha was constantly stressed out about cooking. She wasn’t good at it, and she hated it. She would do her best to meal plan, grocery shop and prepare meals for our family. She would bust it all day taking care of our kids and prepare dinner for me by the time I got home. I would usually come home later than I promised and dinner would be cold. It would be Mexican or pasta or chicken or…..well that about sums it up…one of those 3 things. The truth is this was a serious area of tension and stress in our relationship. Trisha constantly felt unappreciated and defeated. I felt like it shouldn’t be that hard to plan, shop and prepare food for our family.
Everyday, we spent time identifying gifts and abilities that others had to serve the in the church. We wouldn’t ask a person who hated kids to serve in the nursery. We wouldn’t consider allowing someone who couldn’t sing to lead worship. We would never ask someone to teach unless they had the gift of teaching. But we functioned in our marriage with a totally opposite philosophy.
When we were separated and began dating again, we spent a lot of time talking about the things in our relationship that caused the other pain. This subject came up early in a conversation over dinner (at Red Lobster, not that Trisha cooked). We were talking about what gave us life and what drained life from us. She just began to pour out her heart and share with me how much this was life-sucking to her and how my response over the years had made her resentful and bitter and defeated. It was a huge wake up call for me. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal…but it was a huge deal for her. That night, I told her that after I moved home, I would assume all cooking responsibilities…she never had to worry about it again. A month later I was able to move home and begin to make good on that promise!
Here is what we discovered…I love cooking. I love learning how to make new things. I love getting up early on Saturday morning and making breakfast for our family. I love that my boys have seen their dad find a passion in serving and contributing in a way that builds up their mom! My boys now love cooking with me! There was an exponential increase of joy in our home from this one discovery. But we didn’t stop there…one of the things that Trisha learned is that I really don’t enjoy mowing the yard…but she does. So I cook about 90% of our meals and she mows our yard about 90% of the time. As we have engaged in these activities, we are both doing something that we like doing, and taking something off of the plate of our spouse that they don’t like. It is a huge win for our family.
The truth is that 80% of our pre-separation roles are still the same. But, by talking about our gifts, passions and talents, and then reassigning 20% of our roles, it has made a HUGE difference in the quality of our marriage and family. This conversation should be had by every married couple alive. Because here is the cool part: Where it starts is in the daily tasks that each of us are responsible to accomplish to make our family function…but where it goes from there are bigger dreams, greater visions and larger passions that God has given us as couples to experience and accomplish together.
Do you know what your spouse is passionate about? Have you ever asked the question to your spouse “Are there things in the daily life of our house that you do that give you life? Are there things that suck life out of you? Are there things that I could begin doing around our house that would free you up to be more of whom God has called you to be?” Obviously someone has to take out the trash, someone has to change the dirty diaper, someone has to do the dishes. But your marriage will be instantly improved if you can discover how you can orient your marriage relationship around the God-given gifts, passions and talents of one another.