Brad Hambrick is a new addition to the Thriving Marriages family, but he’s already one of my favorites. His site is PACKED with resources, and worth checking out. Enjoy!
Each year I write my wife at least three letters – birthday, anniversary, and Valentines. While this is a sweet gift for my wife, I have the personal benefits to an unexpected bonus. I would say that there are several ways that these letters help me to enjoy our marriage more and be a better husband.
First, these letters force me to reflect on where we’ve been in the last 3-4 months. Life is busy. It is easy for me to focus on “next” so much that I miss great years of life that are passing by. If I don’t regularly pause and regularly ask, “What are the great things that have happened recently?,” then I’m going to be an old man (if God allows) with many regrets. Worse, my wife is likely to grow weary because I failed to encourage her as God called me, as her husband, to do.
Second, these letters are an occasion to anticipate new seasons or challenges ahead. It is easy for men to plan goals and anticipate the future for every area of their life except their homes. I don’t want to be guilty of being more excellent at things outside my home than I am inside my home. If I am going to avoid this, I need to look at the new seasons in our marriage. In the last couple of letters these thoughts have been anticipating the kinds of dreams and opportunities my wife would pursue when our youngest child entered school.
Third, these letters give me an occasion to focus my prayers for the coming months. I try to include things that I am praying for my wife. These letters don’t follow an outline, so this is often weaved within the letter rather than its own section. But it is helpful for me to avoid stale, repetitive prayers if I take time while I’m reflecting on our past 6 months and next 6 months to ask, “What new things do I need to be praying for me wife?”
Fourth, these letters are an opportunity to highlight growth or new aspects of my wife’s character I’ve seen emerge. My wife is not the same woman I married almost 13 years ago (nor am I the same man). God is growing us both. I get the privilege of having a front row seat of how God is shaping my wife. This is a blessing that comes with a responsibility – if I do not affirm many of these changes, then there is no one else who is in a position to praise God or encourage my wife for them. It is my unique responsibility as a husband to praise and cultivate every aspect of God’s grace in the life of my wife.
Fifth, these letters remind me of the things I need to be echoing in my day-to-day conversation. The best thing special disciplines can do is reinforce healthy daily habits. We fast, not to “scream” prayers at God, but to reinforce that prayer, even more than food, is a daily necessity. These letters are usually one page and take about an hour to write, but an hour of asking good questions about my wife and marriage produces a harvest of compliments and conversations. Usually by the time the next letter comes around I can tell I have slacked off a bit because of distraction and lazy thinking.
Whether you choose to write three letters a year or not, I would recommend regularly thinking about and discussing the following questions with your spouse.
- Where have we been in the last 6 months?
- What is coming up in the next 6 months?
- What do I need to be praying for my spouse?
- What is God doing in the life of my spouse?
- How can I incorporate these things in daily life / conversation?