Imagine you’re about to play in a big basketball game. Filling the locker room is a palpable mixture of nervous anticipation, energy, excitement, fear and … body odor. Coach enters to give final instructions and encouragement. Then, right before your teams takes the court, everyone gathers close, hands on top of one other for the huddle: ONE, TWO, THREE … FEED THE PIG!
Ok, maybe it doesn’t work well for basketball, but I believe Feed the Pig can be the rally cry to inspire, unite, challenge and bring focus to our marriages.
Need some convincing?
The idea of Feed the Pig reminds us to view our relationships like a piggy bank. The only way a bank works is when we put money in it - when we invest. Our marriages are no different. If we want to experience the benefits of a long-lasting, fulfilling marriage it requires significant and consistent investment.
I know that seems pretty obvious, but in my experience many couples trade intimacy for efficiency.
Kristen and I have 4 kids. This spring we had all 4 in different sports and activities (of course, all at different times and places). Before the season, we planned everything. We knew when and where we had to be each day. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad at first. Then our area was pounded by weeks of rain, rearranging everything on our calendar. But we rolled with it. Our family became a well-oiled machine, fueled by adrenaline and $5 Hot-N-Ready pizzas.
Kristen and I used every effective marriage technique developed…
Our communication was on point, we had weekly family meeting to talk about schedules, budgets and how the other was doing. We coordinated who needed to be where and when, who was dropping off and picking up. Our kids went from school, to snacks, to homework, to activities. Then we would get home, power feed the kids, take showers and get in bed.
At first, the change of routine, pace and new experiences were exhilarating, even a little addicting. Though after a while, Kristen and I realized we were drifting apart. Our conversations became more about family business and less about being a family.
This experience reminded me efficiency never successfully replaces intimacy. We can emotionally drift away from our spouses, even while making great memories at lacrosse and ballet.
That is why the Feed the Pig principle is so important to every marriage. It reminds us our marriages are bigger than us. The relationship between a husband and wife is bigger than our feelings, it is bigger than our ambitions and it is bigger than our selfish appetites.
Our marriage should reflect the relationship Christ has with the church (Ephesians 5:21-31). It reminds us Jesus constantly pursues, sacrifices and gives Himself in order to assure we have a healthy relationship with Him.
So, when times are tough … or just plain busy … instead of pulling back, we must invest more in our marriages, and constantly pursue it, like Christ does us.
We must also remember, our love, time, conversations and even affection are not rewards for good behavior. Rather, we need to use other relational tools that tell our spouses we are committed to them and the relationship is safe.
Here are a few things I say we try this week:
Staring Contest – Set a time when there are zero distractions. Sit in a quiet room and look deeply into your spouse’s eyes. Resist the urge to be weird or “funny.” Then share 1 thing you love about your marriage.
Tender Touch – This week initiate a non-sexual affectionate gesture. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, or hold hands while watching TV.
Surprise Note – Grab a dry erase marker and secretly write a short note on your bathroom mirror that your spouse will see the first thing in the morning.
These small investments will pay big dividends by reminding your spouse you care and are thinking about them. It may also change you by reminding you why and what you love about your spouse.
The investment mentality gives us courage to have hard conversations that often are uncomfortable because we don’t want to harbor resentment that can grow if never discussed and resolved.
Team, our marriages, is the big game of our lives. So what do you say? On three: One…Two…Three, FEED THE PIG!
*We'll be back in 2 weeks with Part 2 of our "Feed the Pig" series.*