In our marriage of 34 years, hiking has become one of our favorite activities. Whether we’re hiking close to our home in Taylor County, Kentucky, or in one of America’s incredible national parks, Elizabeth and I have discovered our trials and delights are directly related to the trails we choose.
Because there is a vast array of trails available to us, on a given day we will carefully choose what we want to experience. Whether you are an “empty nest” marriage like ours or still have children in your home, there are a number of meaningful and fascinating trails on which to embark.
Let me suggest seven (7) trails you might consider as you walk the journey of marriage together.
1. The Discovery Trail
The Discovery Trail is the path that leads you to opportunities to experience new things together. It may include travel, learning a new skill, trying unfamiliar foods, embracing a different opportunity, or exposing yourselves to novelty.
2. The Servant Trail
The Servant Trail is the path that allows you to make a difference in the lives of others through conjoint offerings of your time, resources, gifts, and talents in the name of Jesus. You might purpose together to continue serving in old ways or to embark on a fresh experience.
3. The Guide Trail
The Guide Trail finds you trekking through familiar territory as you mentor and lead others in places where you are uniquely equipped. Maybe you are actively parenting children or teenagers. Perhaps you serve as marriage mentors or lead a Bible study or discipleship group.
4. The Uphill Trail
The Uphill Trail is the path where you endure difficult things together. Sometimes this path is deliberately chosen. Other times you realize it is essentially unavoidable. Either way, rather than resenting it, you observe walking this path together leads to increased trust in God and intimacy or closeness with one another.
5. The Familiar Trail
The Familiar Trail is the path of daily ritual that keeps you connected. Here you purpose to enjoy the small joys. This doesn’t have to mean romantic things to do for your wife—it just might be having a cup of coffee on the porch, a walk in the neighborhood, or mundane chores around the house and yard. This might even include a favorite television show.
6. The Unexpected Trail
The Unexpected Trail finds you walking together in places you did not or could not anticipate. Here is where the trail might just be a trial or it might be a wonderful surprise.
7. The Celebration Trail
The Celebration Trail is the way of playfulness, laughter, and humor. It is on this path you embrace the ancient mandate to become like little children and delight in the provisions of a loving Heavenly Father.
Remember the words of Proverbs 4:26, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet…”
Grace Marriage Motivation
Take a walk or hike together this week and spend some time talking about these seven trails.
- Which is the most rewarding to you at this stage of life?
- Which is the most challenging?
- Which trail would you like to spend more time hiking?
Dr. Scott Wigginton currently serves full-time as Professor of Pastoral Ministries & Counseling and Associate Director of the Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Campbellsville University.
Ryan Sanders is a writer, marketer, pastor, and counselor with years of marriage, parenting, and leadership experience. He has served in various roles for several ministries such as Lifeway, Prison Fellowship, National Fatherhood Initiative, All Pro Dad, Fatherhood CoMission, Care Net, and served on staff at churches in Tennessee and Virginia. Since 2016, He has served as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church where he spends most of his time counseling. He is a Fellow at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview and holds the Th. M in Biblical Counseling and the M. Div. in Applied Apologetics from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ryan has been married to Tonia for 18 years and they have three children ages 15, 12, and 6. Ryan and his family live in Washington, DC.