My darling Ashley and I have been married 16 years! I survey all the success God has given us raising four wonderful kids and enjoying wedded bliss. I’m now reaching the age where younger couples look at our marriage and ask, “What’s your secret?” There’s so much I could share that plays into a good marriage. Praying together is a big deal. Put your spouse ahead of your kids and your work. Don’t give up on dating your spouse. Talk openly and honestly with your kids. Quality time comes with quantity time. Be flexible so you won’t get bent out of shape. The list of family learning could go on and on, but I’ve got one piece of wisdom that has stuck in my head recently - never go shopping while hungry.
We’ve all felt that nagging feeling in our stomachs when we head to the grocery store. We enter inside and our bellies start growling at the delightful colors and enticing smells all around us. It’s at that moment we realize that we’ve forgotten to eat lunch or chosen to shop right before dinner time, a disastrous mistake. While our main mission may have been a list of five items, due to our hunger, we snag an extra candy bar and sugary drink at the cash register. For those of us who are especially impulsive, we dish out the cash for many impulsive purchases sometimes doubling and tripling our list, all because we were hungry. Hunger distracts us from our main mission while shopping. To curb the hunger, always invest time in a healthy snack from home before you go shopping or shop after a meal. Problem solved - no impulsive shopping distracting you from the mission.
You’re probably asking, “Topher, what does shopping and hunger have to do with Family Forte?” I reply, “Shopping while hungry is exactly what weakens the strength of the family.”
In young families, that marriage relationship is such an important bond that needs to be protected, nurtured, and given a firm foundation to grow and flourish. For example, I chose during my first year of our marriage NOT TO SPEND ONE single night away from Ashley. Unfortunately, many young couples invest their primary time and energies into their work and their hobbies, neglecting those helpful dating and early marriage habits they once held so dear. When couples within a young relationship stop feeding the relationships with quality time and quantity time, in effect, they are starving it. Too often in my profession I see the results of those hungry marriages that get distracted by their main mission while their spouses are away on business or pleasure trips. I’ve counselled through many tears and heartaches over wandering eyes, adulterous mistakes, and broken relationships. If you are regularly feeding time and energy into your young marriage in purposeful ways, the relationship is less likely to be distracted by enticing smells and colors in other markets. Investing your time in your spouse helps them to avoid the impulsive hungry shopper syndrome.
I’m excited to see the rise in Daddy/Daughter & Mother/Son date nights within our culture because it seems as though someone has grasped the concept of hungry shoppers. According to Focusonthefamily.com, a daughter learns what it is to be cherished and affirmed for who she is most from her father. The protection and stability a son needs for confidence and self-esteem is typically given by time and attention invested by his parents. Our girls learn what appropriate physical touch and boundaries are from spending quality time with that man she trusts, her dad. Our sons learn how a woman should treat a man and vice versa by observing quality time invested at home with Mom and Dad. Sadly, too many families are sending their young men and women into the world as hungry shoppers. Rather than being fulfilled with a solid lasting relationship with their parents, they crave attention in many inappropriate ways. Like the hungry shopper who will grab a candy bar off the shelf on impulse to satisfy a craving, we see young adults entering many destructive short-term relationships because they were unfulfilled. We, as parents, can help guide our young adults into positive and beautiful relationships as they mature by continuing to give them the affirmation, stability, and attention they need and thereby avoid the pitfalls of hungry shopping.
Churches have a large role to play in this department of strengthening families. People in our culture are seeking purpose, meaning, and deeper relationships in their lives. Sadly, too many churches only see it as their role to only spout religious dogma and send families on their way. Shepherds must have the vision and goals of filling those needs for purpose and cravings for relationships with God’s truth and with God’s people. Otherwise, our church families become just like hungry shoppers, buying into the latest self-help book, investing in destructive friendships, or investing all their time into the latest consuming hobby.
For spouses, invest quantity and quality time together before you send each other off into the distracting situations life offers. For parents, invest purposeful energy in your kids quenching those desires for attention, stability, and nurture so they can develop appropriate relationships with positive peers. For the Lord’s Church, invest your focus into the life affirming words and actions of Jesus Christ giving people the purpose and relationships they crave as they grow in loving God and loving their neighbor. To keep to your missions and goals in life, send your spouse, child, or family into the world satisfied and fulfilled. Never go shopping while hungry.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – Matthew 5:6