When we think of a marriage relationship, we usually only think of the two people inside the marriage. We don’t often think about the couple’s relationship to the outside world. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that marriage is not nearly as individual as we sometimes think. A marriage not only affects the couple themselves, but a variety of people around them. Marriage doesn’t happen in a void, it happens within a community. The question is: how are you and your spouse engaging or not engaging with that community?
As I think about the community my husband and I have, I come back to three actions that all relate to being intentional. Building, interacting with, and maintaining a community doesn’t just happen. It takes work, but the payoff is so worth it if you put a little intentionality into your relationship with your community.
It’s difficult to build good relationships in your community if you don’t make an effort to connect. It may be awkward at first, but I’ve found that asking good questions beyond the standard “What do you do for work?” can bring about great conversation. Asking deeper questions like, “What’s one of your favorite books?” or “What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday?” can help you connect more quickly. Some relationships take time to form a connection while others happen right away. But both will take some effort. The good thing is doing this with your spouse can help reduce anxiety since you’re in it together.
Find a way you and your spouse can serve your community! It can look like volunteering at a food bank, donating unused items from your house, taking your neighbor to the airport or watching your friends’ kids for free. Giving back to your community doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. But I encourage you and your spouse to give as much as you take from your community. Investing in your community together is a great way your marriage can have a positive impact on others.
Lastly, enjoy your community! Celebrate their wins, try new things with them, eat meals together and engage in meaningful conversation with them. Find the people that you not only enjoy being around, but are the kind of people you want to emulate. Enjoy being with those that make you laugh, encourage and support you, and help you be the best version of yourself. If your community doesn’t sound like that right now, maybe it’s time to set some boundaries and find some new friends. Life is too short to spend around people who bring you and your spouse down.
Journal question: Which action do you want to focus on doing with your community: connecting, serving, or enjoying?
Additional Resource: Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation by Jen Schmidt
If you want more tips on building and engaging your community with your spouse, get my book Rhythms of Relationship on Amazon.