There's a tendency for some couples without kids to get focused in on what life will be like with kids and dreaming of the future. These can be good things, but when they prevent you from enjoying your life now, they prevent you from doing what God really wants you to do. As a couple without kids, my wife and I find we have much more freedom to do what we want when we want than our child rearing friends. If we want to go to the movies, blaze a trail in the Olympics, or run away to Vancouver for the day we need only get up and go. For those with kids, this is much more complex. No matter the stage of life, it is important to take advantage of the freedoms God's given you.
Here are three things you can do to best enjoy life now:
Become Who You Ought to be in Jesus
How you spend your life now will determine who you become. In the end, we all grow up to be what we are based on the choices we make when we are younger. Apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, how you spend your life now will determine who you become. Do you like who you are now? Do you have room to grow and become more like Jesus? I would suggest that we all have room to grow in this realm and the best time to get started down that path is now. Putting it off until later is an endless cycle. Work on your character and relationship with Jesus now, you will have less time in the future.
When we train up our souls in the way we should go, we prepare ourselves to be the awesome parents, grandparents, and family friends we've known in our youth and know now. How do you practically work on these things? You've heard it said, "Read your Bible and pray" but I would say there's more to it than that. You must actively evaluate your life. Find the places where your character is not in line with the Bible. Study what the Bible has to say about those weaknesses, pray that God would change you, and put in the effort daily to change your behavior.
If you can't think of an area that needs to change in your life, ask your spouse. We are often blind to our own sins, but our spouse is not. I heard a sermon once where a pastor asked his wife for one thing to work on and she replied "Let me think about it" and then came back the next day with three things he could work on. We all have areas we need to work on, and no one knows that more than our spouse.
There are always sins that we need to be rid of; and when we do, we can echo the words of the psalmist:
"Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts."
Every Christian should be focusing on their walk with God as a priority, but without kids, we have more time and opportunity for it. We can afford to spend hours now studying the word each week, where later in life in our study time will become shorter. Focusing on growing now will make life later easier.
Love Your Spouse
Sometimes we may be tempted to think that loving our spouse is all about focusing on the long term. Will she be financially set in old age? Will she have a home they can cherish? Will she have kids to take care of her in the end? Will he be healthy? Will our friendship remain strong? Will we be good parents? After the kids leave will it be awkward? These things are good things to think about, but it is also good to think about where you both are now and love each other in the present.
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
How are you doing at loving your spouse right now? Love by this standard is hard. We all may feel we have great success at one or two points of God's definition of love, but if we're honest none of us has mastered it all. If you want to get the most out of life, love your spouse more than yourself. Not only is this what the Bible commands us to do, but when we live it out, our spouse is often inspired to love us back in the same way. How are you doing at loving your spouse right now?
When I take my wife on dates, I always try to think of what she would enjoy and plan around that. I know she likes music far more than I, so I've taken her to the concert hall. She enjoys seeing new things, so I've taken her on short road trips to places she's never been. Making our dates about my wife's enjoyment makes them fun and memorable! Truth be told, when I make dates about me, I can't help but feel guilty and have a nagging feeling that I'm being selfish. Making dates about her preferences shows her I love her more than myself and it lives out Philippians 2:3-4 ("count others more significant than yourself").
While dates are a great way to show love to our spouse, it is even more important to show love in the way you live day to day. Do you look out for your spouse in the little things in life? Here's a few ideas of how you put your spouses needs above your own in the day to day:
- Turn on the seat warmer before they get in the car.
- Do chores without being asked.
- Surprise them with lunch at work. (Who doesn't love good food?)
- Grab treats for them when you go shopping.
- Make them coffee/tea before they leave for work.
- Text her unprompted.
- Invite each other into your free time. (Men can have just as much fun knitting and women can enjoy power tools too.)
These are just simple ideas. Each person is different, what's important is that you think about what your spouse enjoys most help them attain it and to think about what they dislike most and help them not have to worry about it. Serving your spouse in the little ways, helps you to fulfill Jesus command: "But whoever would be great among you must be your servant" (Matthew 20:26).
I was talking with an older woman recently who told me she had more memories of being a kid than she did from her 20's and 30's. She had thrown herself into her work, working toward the future. In her tireless effort, she forgot to have fun. She forgot to make memories. Her efforts caused two decades of her life to be a memory-less void. She mentioned this with some regret and encouraged those of us listening that one of the best things we can do at our age is to make lasting memories.
I try to remember that the future is not the only or most important priority. How sad would it be if my wife and I could not remember the first twenty years of our marriage, because we wasted it away working toward our future instead of enjoying each other and making memories? Live out what Jesus commanded; do not worry about tomorrow for it will take care of itself (Matthew 6:34).
Be spontaneous. Be creative. Memories don't require excesses of cash. They only require the thoughtfulness of someone who loves their spouse and wants to give them something special. Here are a few inexpensive date ideas that will also build memories:
- Go the Funko Store in Everett and take a funny picture with each life sized statue.
- Take a stroll through downtown Kirkland. High Five every time you see a public piece of art! (Or kiss... that may be even more fun!)
- Go for a hike to the Big Four Ice Caves.
- Watch the sunset at Kerry Park.
- Make new traditions together.
If you want to get the most out of life now, as a couple without kids, be studious in your zeal for Christ, love your spouse, and be spontaneous in your zest for life. If you work on these three things, you'll find fulfillment and peace that can only come from God. You'll discover things you love about your spouse you never noticed before. And you'll learn to make the most of any situation. Keep your priorities right; God first, Spouse second, and you'll be on the path to enjoying the life God has given you.