In his book, Vertical Marriage, Dave Wilson provides an excellent formula for growing in our relationship with God and with our wives. Dave Wilson is a pastor and chaplain for the Detroit Lions. After ten years of marriage he and his wife, Ann, were in crisis. His focus on his ministry and career left her feeling lonely and rejected. Realizing how much he hurt his wife, Dave repented and changed his priorities. He developed a plan to grow in his relationship with God and with Ann. This led to the healing and restoration of their marriage.
Dave calls his plan to nurture his relationship with God and Ann his “Workout Program.” This is a daily, weekly and monthly program.
- Divert Daily: Every day carve out alone time with Jesus. Make a habit out of spending some time each day in prayer, meditation, scripture and spiritual reading. This will help deepen your relationship with God. At the same time, you need to spend time with your wife daily. Research tells us that most married couples have only 10 minutes of meaningful conversation daily. You need much more than 10 minutes to nurture a healthy marriage. I recommend carving out at least 20 minutes of healthy conversation with your wife each day. This should be fact-to-face; not on the phone or texting. This time can be early in the morning or before going to bed. Just make sure it’s a time when neither of you are too tired.
- Withdrawal Weekly: God values rest and relaxation so much that he reserved one day out of the week just for that. Thus keeping the Sabbath holy not only means attending Sunday mass. It also means taking at least one day out of the week to rest. This is needed for a healthy, stable life. If it can’t be Sunday, you should pick one other day of the week to relax. In your marriage, withdrawing weekly means setting aside time for your wife. I recommend a weekly date. Some men reel at the thought of a weekly date because of the possible expense of it. However, a weekly date doesn’t have to cost anything. It could mean having coffee on the back porch or going for a walk. It should last at least two hours where you focus on your wife and marriage. Reserving this special time for her will deepen your relationship and affirm your love for her.
- Abandon Annually: While Dave is Protestant, this recommendation appears very Catholic! He recommends an annual retreat. This is something I recommend for all adults. This is a time away with the Lord to rekindle and strengthen your relationship with him. It can be silent or directed. People who attend annual retreats return refreshed and renewed in their lives and in their relationship with God. This is also important for your marriage. Couples should plan an annual vacations together. It can be as simple as a weekend at the beach or in the mountains. While it might be challenging to arrange childcare while you are away, you can trade with another couple. They will watch your kids while you are away, and you will watch their kids while they are away. Most couples would readily accept such a deal!
By practicing these daily, weekly and yearly principles you will not only strengthen your relationship with God, you will also improve your marriage! God wants us to have happy, healthy, holy marriages. These principles can help you can achieve this!
Wilson, Dave & Ann (2018). Vertical marriage: The one secret that will change your marriage.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.