Watchfulness is like a compass that keeps your marriage on the path of intimacy.
At the beginning of each year, I seek the Lord for a theme verse for the year. A few years ago it was this verse:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
While the heart of this verse is about having a lifestyle of prayer, what I want to focus on today is the importance of watchfulness in your marriage. (Tomorrow I will be focusing on thankfulness.)
What is Watchfulness?
Watchfulness is like a compass for your marriage journey. This compass keeps you on track and heading in the direction you want to go. It keeps you from wandering off the path of intimacy and onto the path of separation.
Keep your self, your life, and your marriage off auto-pilot. Be determined to remain attentive and observant to all that goes on in and around you, keeping your heart, mind, spirit, and physical senses alive, alert, and engaged. Watchfulness is about purposefully and continually stirring your passions and longings.
Watchfulness is a spiritual as well as a marital concept. Spiritual watchfulness means fostering a continual awareness of the presence of God in your life, even in the little things, living in anticipation of his goodness, and having our hearts fully awake to his love. If you watch, you can see God in everything: the smile of a child, the beauty of creation, the tastiness of a meal. It means knowing he is with us, both in good times and in the challenges of life.
Ultimately, watchfulness grows intimacy between us and God and fuels our passion for him.
1) Watch With Your Whole Being
In your marriage, watchfulness has a similar ability to fuel intimacy and passion. By remaining aware of how the things you are thinking, feeling, saying, and doing affect your marriage, you create the opportunity to be intentional, to find meaning, and to take positive action.
The watchfulness compass helps you to ask and answer questions like:
- What can I do today to let my wife know I love her?
- How are these thoughts I keep having helpful to my relationship with my husband? Where do I need to change my thinking?
- Have I adequately put my feelings of love into affirming words this week?
- Am I doing ____ more for me or for my spouse? Is that the right choice in this matter?
- During the fight we just had, did I show distrust or disrespect toward my husband in any way? What should I do about that?
- What have I done today to intentionally stir up my passion for my wife or my husband?
- What have I truly savored with my senses (sights, tastes, smells, or sounds) today?
As you can see, watchfulness involves your whole being. Stay attuned to your spirit, mind, emotions, and body, keeping them all intensively alive and alert for the sake of enhancing intimacy and passion in your marriage.
Are you thinking, “I don’t have time for all of this?” If so, then you are thinking about watchfulness in the wrong way. Watchfulness is much more about how you think than what you do. What I mean by that is that watchfulness is a mindset, a habit of awareness, much more than it is a checklist of items to do or not do. In fact, it is checklist thinking that is precisely what watchfulness is meant to preclude.
Watchfulness doesn’t always have to mean extra physical effort. Sometimes it might just be a spark of awareness in your mind or body.
- While dressing for a date, think of an outfit that your spouse has complimented you on before or pick something that you know is his or her preference.
- As you splash on his favorite perfume or her favorite cologne, imagine the intoxicating impact it will have on your spouse when you embrace or as you crawl into bed together.
- Purposefully reflect on intimate and romantic moments you have shared together, allowing the same feelings of enjoyment to wash over you again.
Watchfulness trains your mind to seek out pleasurable thoughts, taking delight even in the little things.
2) Watch Your Whole Marriage
Your marriage has many dimensions, and it is important not to let any of them fall prey to the auto-pilot syndrome.
So, for example, watching your spiritual relationship means making sure that Christ stays at the center of your life and your marriage. Watching your sexual relationship not only means making sex a priority but also being purposeful to keep it interesting and exciting and to actively fuel passion for your spouse. Watching your financial relationship means things like being entirely transparent with your money and being diligent to stay within budget and saving guidelines.
There is a wonderful synergy that happens as you begin cultivating watchfulness throughout your marriage. For example, you will see that as you practice awareness and anticipation in one area, say in your spiritual life, you may find yourself suddenly more able to do so in another area, maybe your sexual relationship. When you become attentive to helping your spouse out in practical ways, you may find it easier to also be attentive to good communications.
Let watchfulness imbue your entire marriage!
3) Do Away with Anesthetics
There are many things around us trying to get us to anesthetize ourselves against watchfulness, things that can lead us to quickly re-engage the autopilot.
- Busyness – watchfulness is a call to do less and to think and feel more.
- Media Overload – once in a while, choose to turn off the TV, the iphone, the Xbox, and the computer, and just be.
- Consumerism – we tend to be driven by the need to acquire more stuff. Less really can be more.
There are plenty more examples I could give of things that we anesthetize our souls with. I’m sure you can readily identify the top two or three in your own life.
4) Create Little Rituals
You can imbue your marriage with watchfulness by creating little rituals around things that you often do without thinking about them.
What things do you do on a daily or semi-regular basis that you can modify slightly in a way that creates an enjoyable ritual?
- Enjoy an after-dinner cup of tea or coffee in a quiet place together
- Follow up your evening walk together with three minutes of kissing or hugging.
- Sip a glass of fine wine after work in a comfy spot or while watching the sunset
- Light candles while you pray together for your family.
- Create a romantic or sexy playlist for lovemaking.
- Hold your monthly budget discussions in bed, naked.
The possibilities are truly endless! The thing with rituals is not to let them become routine. Keep it intentional. Stay present. Turn off the autopilot.
Where can you be more watchful in your marriage? What are the opportunities to transform the mundane into the marvelous? Where have you created small rituals to celebrate the little moments?
Next time: Thankfulness