I’m stubbornly confident that there are still people in pursuit of covenant marriages; Marriages that are undividedly devoted, completely committed, persistently selfless, value-centered, joy-filled, and love-based.
Covenant marriages are irreplaceable and indispensable. My husband and I crave that kind of marriage, and we deeply desire to do and be the things that will attain it. Therefore, we’ve established a simple rhythm that continues to save and grow our marriage. If you share in our passion for thriving committed marriages and relationships, read on.
In the United States, researchers estimate that 50 percent of all first marriages will end in permanent separation or divorce. The risk is even higher for second marriages, about 60 percent. How is it, that our grandparent’s generation is committed to their marriages at age 80, yet as a 24-year-old, most of my friend’s parents are divorced or remarried by age 50. And as for my generation, it seems that the obsession with weddings remains rampant, yet the focus on marriage as the purpose of the wedding day, is becoming less and less.
So what has caused the pendulum to swing so far? Why are people getting married later, ending marriage sooner, and remarrying multiple times? I was in an old antique shop once and read a quote that I think sums it up the best. “Back in our day, when something broke, you fixed it instead of throwing it away.” The quote was inked over a photo of an elderly couple holding each other close.
But isn’t that just it? When our grandparents were growing up, if their car, bike, sink, dress, bed, or radio broke, they fixed it. Nowadays, most people wouldn’t even know how to fix those things even if they wanted to. More than that, most people don’t want to because they don’t need to. If it breaks, they just buy a new one, a better one. Seemingly, nothing is irreplaceable. And so the same concept has unfortunately translated to our marriages. If it breaks, just get a new one.
My husband and I, and I’m confident we’re not alone in this, want to have a marriage marked by “fixing,” instead of “throwing away.” As a result, we have prioritized an imperative rhythm in our marriage, and it has led to tremendous payoff. That rhythm is something that we call, our “Navigator’s Council.”
“Navigator’s Council” is taken from our favorite book, “A Severe Mercy,” which we read every year to/with each other. The book is an autobiography by Sheldon Vanuaken, about his love for his wife Davey. It’s a passionate love story that begs to inspire and multiply love stories like theirs. In the book, Davey and Sheldon had a knack for naming things; they named seasons, places, objects, circumstances, moments, decisions, rhythms, and routines. One of those rhythms is something they referred to as their, “Navigator’s Council,” which was a set-aside time for them to review where they’d been and where they were going.
When we got married we knew we wanted to adopt a similar rhythm. During our pre-marital counseling with the couple that married us, one of the things we learned that stuck with us the most, was a rhythm they call their, “marriage journal.” It’s a journal containing five questions that they ask each other and record each week. The questions are simple, but paramount for hedging against conflict, and fostering intimacy. They have “marriage journals” dating back to the early years of their marriage. It’s something that they have committed to as a way of growing, protecting, and strengthening their marriage.
My mind immediately went to “A Severe Mercy,” and “Navigator’s Council.” My heart leaped at the idea of a journal that would strengthen and record the growth of our love, while also, “fixing the broken pieces.” So we decided to take on this rhythm with a “Roloff flare.” And of course, we call it our, “Navigator’s Council.”
Each week we ask each other a series of questions that we came to a consensus on during our honeymoon. Many of them are similar to the “marriage journal” questions that our premarital counselor’s urged us to use, but we added/subtracted/changed a few. These are the seven questions we ask each other and record our answers in our Navigator’s Council journal every Sunday.
What brought you joy this week?
What was something that was hard this week?
What’s one specific thing I can do for you this week?
How can I pray for you this week?
Is there anything that’s gone unsaid, convictions, confessions, unresolved
What’s a dream, desire or thought that’s been on the forefront of your mind this week?
Ask each other a question.
We always end our time in prayer, and once a month we ask two additional questions that we don’t feel are necessary to ask each week.
How are we stewarding our finances?
How is our sex life?
I can honestly say that because of Navigator’s Council, I can count on one hand the amount of fights we’ve had since we’ve been married. Arguments and disagreements arise, but they are fleeting and diminished because we know that each Sunday is a call to reconciliation, a burning away of bitterness, and a revelation of truth.
Although the purpose of the journal is to cultivate consistent communication on important matters each week, it’s also incredible to see how effective this practice has been for our marriage. As we’ve reflected on old entries, we smile at what this mere journal has prevented us from, and the standard it has held us to. The hour that we set aside on Sundays to create time and space for the discipline of communication has been crucial. Yes, it’s a discipline, and I would argue, a vital one to marriage.
No circumstance is acceptable for missing a Sunday of Navigator’s Council. We figure if we can’t commit to this one thing, that takes less than an hour, once a week, how can we expect ourselves to commit to a lifetime of marriage? So even when we’ve been traveling all day, arrive home after midnight, have to wake up at 3 a.m. on Monday, or the to-do list is over-bearing, we still make time for our Navigator’s Council.
Not only is our Navigator’s Council a review of where we’ve been and where we are going, but it is a time to share, a call to transparency, a reminder of truth, a discerning of dreams, and a harvesting of love.
I know so many people dating or married that couldn’t tell you what brought their husband or boyfriend joy last week, but they could tell you in a heart beat what he did that pissed them off. It’s a pathetic reality. We should know what brings our boyfriends and husbands joy, what makes them sad, boils their blood, and ignites their hearts. At the core, every single human on the planet has a desire to know and be known. But without the discipline of communication, we are left to assume. Navigator’s Council doesn’t leave room for assumptions, it turns knowing more into loving more. Always loving, more and more.
Whatever your “Navigator Council” looks like, I urge you to create time and space for a rhythm that cultivates the discipline of communication. Whether you fabricate your own list of questions, or you have a completely different way of growing, protecting, and strengthening your relationship, I hope you have the kind of love that’s marked by “fixing,” instead of “throwing away.”