As each year comes to a close, I always enjoy thinking about all we’ve experienced over the past twelve months. This year, like many before it, was full: school and activities for the kids, church, my husband’s new job, his travel schedule for work, family vacations and now the holidays.

It’s always fun to look back at pictures from a year ago and see how our kids have grown. That got me to thinking about how my marriage has grown over the past year. One of the things we realized in this, our twelfth year of marriage, is that we had neglected spending time together regularly. Other things always came before going out on a date a few times a month. And it started to show.

But God works in such wonderful ways and our church held a marriage series and corresponding small groups. This helped immensely and allowed us to see that we needed to put our relationship above other things. We saw that we needed more communication and more time together.

We had always talked about how we should trade watching kids for date nights with some friends, but never reached out to anyone. We finally stopped talking about it and made it happen. Now we have regular dates at least twice a month and it’s pretty awesome to get that regular time together.

One thing I know is that growth, personally or in a relationship, can often be uncomfortable and even painful during the process, but the beautiful results are so worth it. Take some time this week to talk with your spouse about how you’ve grown over the past year: What challenged you? What did you learn? What do you need to change in the upcoming year?

May we all continue growing and learning in our marriages in 2016!