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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

15th Anniversary

On Thursday Joshua and I will celebrate 15 years of married life together.

For most of our anniversaries we made a point of marking the day with a special meal out, just the two of us. Most years it was a nice dinner, but in recent years, because of children’s events or travel, we’ve sometimes adjusted, carving out a special breakfast.

On our tenth anniversary we wanted to do something extra special to mark the milestone. In the years leading up to it, we had always thought we might make a dream trip to Hawaii for our tenth. When it actually came around, we had just added Lucy to our family and decided it prudent to stay much closer to home. (That AND we hadn’t saved any money for the trip).

So we re-created a portion of our original honeymoon on the Oregon coast at Haceta Head Lighthouse, a bed and breakfast. The location is truly beautiful, the weather was unparalleled, and the breakfast delicious. But one of most important elements of that anniversary trip was the intentional reflection we carved out to focus on our relationship.

To help us, we actually enlisted a number of seminary and lay ministry classmates. We invited them, as highly trained professional ministers, to compose some reflection questions for our trip. The hope was to have some “prompts” to give us a little content for our conversation on the drive down or walking along the beach.

Sure enough, the questions they gave us were thoughtful and just the right entrée into some deeper conversation. In fact, I appreciated them so much, I kept them on a file for the last several years.

This year a married graduate student I work with mentioned that he was preparing a day retreat for him and his wife for their first anniversary. He said they already planned to spend some time writing “introductions” for one another along the lines of what Joshua and I did to introduce one another on this blog a couple years ago. Remembering how enjoyable it was to write about Joshua and then read what he wrote about me, I thought that was a great idea for a wedding anniversary exercise!

Then he asked if we had any other resources for reflection and I immediately thought of my friends’ questions, which I shared readily.

I was remembering that exchange this morning as I pulled the questions file in preparation for our upcoming anniversary trip. (Wine country! No, not Sonoma. Northern Michigan) I thought how useful they could be to any number of married folks who might want to spend time intentionally reflecting on their relationship.

So, with gratitude for the support of friends, I share some of their questions for your use:

  • What have been the most life-giving aspects of being married?
  • What has encouraged your growth in discipleship?
  • How has marriage transformed your relationship with God? Others?
  • In what ways have you known the cross? What has given you hope?
  • How have your children brought about transformation of heart or conversion in you? How have they made you laugh?
  • Look at one another, what do you most appreciate and celebrate in the person before you?
  • How have you become truly one?
  • What has become routine – in good and perhaps in unfortunate ways? What has been lost? What has been gained?
  • In your life together, what do you most cherish? What makes you feel most warm and intimate?
  • What new adventures and call are you experiencing?
  • What has marriage taught you? What has your spouse taught you? What have your children and your life taught you?
  • Best joke you’ve heard come out of your spouse’s mouth…

Finally, a prayer from the Blessing at the End of the Nuptial Mass:

God the Eternal Father keep you in love with each other, so that the peace of Christ may stay with you and be always in your home. Amen.

May your children bless you, your friends console you and all people live in peace with you. Amen.

May you always bear witness to the love of God in this world so that the afflicted and the needy will find in you generous friends, and welcome you into the joys of heaven. Amen.

And may almighty God bless you, + the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.