"Casual Marriage" - 2013/01/15 - published
Today, my assistant Kelly made a great point…she tends to do that. Her point was, the challenges many couples face comes down to an issue of "casual marriage." She went on to explain that, just like in our Christian lives, in marriage, we can take for granted the good thing we have. We can become consumed with the daily grind and miss the importance of the person to whom we've committed our lives. And what we see played out nearly every day is the slow, drifting apart of couples who once felt the fire of love burning brightly. If this situation is left untreated long enough, it is very difficult to reverse the damage and close the gap between the now distant couple.
The difference in a casual marriage and a close marriage is quite simply intentionality. Intentionality is the hallmark of pre-marriage relationships. The relationship is just insecure enough that the couple works very hard to keep the fire burning. There is great effort to talk and spend time together. There is thought given to the desires and best interests of the other. There is willing sacrifice simply to put a smile on the face of the one you are pursuing. Then something happens…marriage. Then in the security of this holy institution, we realize that our spouse hangs around even if we are lazy in our love. We stop putting forth the effort. We forget this holy institution of marriage is the great thing it is, and we become casual in our commitment.
I'm certain that many of you reading this have been living in casual marriages for years. So, what can a couple stuck in a "casual marriage" do to change things?
1. Renounce lazy love.
Do it now, out loud if you need to. Declare your love to be strong, active and unselfish. Ask God to give you the selfless love of Christ for your spouse. Lazy lovers will go days without meaningful conversation. Lazy lovers will not initiate affection. Lazy lovers will do the minimum. Lazy lovers forget to study their spouse in order to become a better lover. Nothing changes until something changes. Fire up your love and do some things differently. Whatever you do, deny laziness wherever you find it in your life, especially in marriage!
2. Create life-giving systems.
Forgive me if this doesn't sound romantic enough, but frankly, many couples need a life-giving system. A system is a set of decisions made in advance to produce a certain result. In marriage, you need systems. Stress and frustration plagues thousands of marriages because couples fail to decide basic household chores in advance. Couples will go months without having sex because, "there is too much going on" or "tonight just isn't a good night" or someone has a "headache." They lack a system. Healthy couples realize that health in marriage is produced through and protected by systems decided in advanced. Smart couples will pre-determine everything from date nights to laundry to budgeting finances. By the way, if you have a system, you don't have to think as hard!
3. Develop friends with good marriages.
Nothing replaces having good friends. I believe friends are the people who make or break us in life. If you are married, you need friends with good marriages. We all tend to become like those we call friends. When you hang around couples with strong healthy marriages, you begin to see ways to improve the way you treat your spouse. You see patterns in their lives that inspire you. Seeing people loving one another well, in real time, creates a model that is immediately transferrable into your life. You simply become better by being near them. I strongly encourage all couples to have a handful of church friends, either through a Sunday School class, small group or even a social group, who can help create a healthy culture of marriage around you. (Here are some great opportunities at Highpoint Church
Yes, Kelly made a great point; we all need to be very careful not to take the wonderful gift of marriage for granted. I hope this helps you take one step toward greater intentionality and kick that casual marriage to the curb!
Do you have a casual marriage? I'd love to hear your comments on ways you keep the romance alive!
Post your comments here.
Follow Andy on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @makesense