Every person, man or woman, has a perimeter, a sphere of influence. It demands a portion of your life’s energy to maintain it, and you must consistently ask yourself, what falls within my perimeter?
In working with couples at all stages of their journey toward a servant marriage, it is clear that, above all, love is incredibly important, no matter what else you may have in your perimeter.
Those in a servant marriage aim at taking responsibility for managing tasks and crises well. Those who are less proactive in management and clear communication can suffer needless tension, which has the potential to overwhelm both partners and draw you away from your servant marriage.
For that reason, the best way to determine what is in your perimeter, what is most important, is to prioritize, and if you have children, you know that they provide endless opportunities to serve.
Children are a great blessing from the Lord, because they draw us into an extremely different level of sacrifice and service. You have to depend on God, because caring for your children demands slightly more of you than you have to give. They need your energy and your time. They also create demands on your marriage.
There is no perfect family on earth, so do not aim for perfect. Instead, recognize that each partner has strength and weakness, has different values based on where they come from. In your servant marriage you should aim to be honest and open, warm and goodhearted. Values along those lines will translate into parenting, where understanding each other and hearing each other becomes incredibly important with children demanding so much of your attention. As a result, parenting becomes a unique journey that is an extension of being a servant to each other.
Money is also one of those multifaceted things we get to manage and discuss, because it comes and goes over the course of your marriage. How you manage money is a servant marriage issue, and most couples would be wise to sit down and see what goes in and out, and why, before establishing a budget to meet the short-term and long-term goals of the family.
My experience has been that in each stage, you are saving money for the next stage.
Along with saving comes the discussion of debt, one of those not-fun conversations couples must have. In a servant marriage, it is really helpful if you are both in agreement on what you are willing to go into debt on. The same goes for investing, and, frankly, all other decisions pertaining to family finances.
Beyond children and money, it is also important to establish filters for friendships. Friends influence how you might think, feel, or behave on a variety of issues. Friends role model their values to us over the time we share with them, so deciding on the filters for friendships you have as a couple, or even as an individual, is invaluable. Be sure to make time for your friends, but keep your marriage a priority.
I believe church can be vitally important in the process of determining your perimeter. Not only do you need to discuss church attendance—will you go weekly, or will you be a “holidays only” kind of attendant—but establish how you will serve the church, either through physical volunteering or tithes.
Above all else, your perimeter requires service, just like your marriage. Remember that, and God will guide you through the overwhelming process of establishing it.
Excerpt taken from: Servant Marriage
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