They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I agree. Courtney and the kids have been out of town for the past week visiting family and the dead silence in the home felt nice … for about … an hour.
Over the past few days, however, I heard the return of voices every night I came home after a long day of work. The voices were not those of children giggling, fighting or running amok. They were my own voices:
- Matt, how’s that juggling thing going?
- Matt, are investing in people as much as your work?
- Matt, do you know your spouse better today than when you married her?
- Matt, are you playing to win? Or just playing to get by?
That last one has been haunting me for months. You see, as a busy construction attorney and father of seven, it is easy to put on my work boots and trudge to the next deadline and task. I tell myself that my wife and kids will be there when I get home, no matter how late. Not so … this week.
I found great solace this morning in a two-part podcast by Gail and Michael Hyatt, called Help, I Married An Entrepreneur. You don’t have to be a businessman or woman to find these messages relevant. All you need is an open mind and heart to seek some great wisdom from this married couple of over 35 years. It is definitely worth listening to both sessions, and here is what I learned:
- You need to be a student of marriage. Gail makes this point very clear, in that a successful marriage for them did not happen by chance. They sought mentors. They read books. They talked with each other regularly. For me, it means “playing to win” in your marriage. It is more than just going through the motions of living life with your spouse. It is attacking your marriage with the same passion as your work.
- Marriage is hard work. Michael and Gail share about some of the valleys they experienced in the early years of marriage. Perspective and commitment were two recurring themes that enabled each of them to work through the difficult times. Michael shares that in 2001, he put his business savvy planning into his personal life by writing down a vision for his marriage, family and personal life. (You can get a copy of his Life Plan e-book for free.) Again, the lesson learned here is: Successful businesses require hard work. Successful marriages take hard work, too.
- Words matter in marriage. As businessman, Michael shares that “encouragement [from Gail] has made all the difference” in the world. They talk about the importance of appreciation and affirmation. Appreciation is thanking your spouse for everything brought to the table, whether big or small. It is communicating to your spouse that their sacrifices do not go unnoticed. Affirmation, on the other hand, is focusing on what you love about your spouse.
I would strongly recommend Gail and Michael’s message no matter what your career or circumstances. If you want to play to win, you need to be purposeful in the steps you take.
Question: As a student of your own marriage, what have you learned?