"The problem with marriage problems"
The problem with marriage problems is that we rarely see the problem growing until it's big enough to do some real damage. I constantly meet with couples that wish they had "seen the signs" of trouble earlier. Frankly, I wish they did too. Working with hurting couples is hard on the counselor as well!
Based on chapter 7-8 of the Song of Solomon, I've created the "7 Red Flags of Marriage." If you see one or two of these "red flags" in your marriage, it's time to pause and think about ways to improve things. If you see 5 or more of these "red flags" in your marriage drop everything and schedule an appointment with a trusted marriage counselor or pastor. If you'd like to watch this sermon in its entirety, please click here: https://vimeo.com/70731774
"Familiarity breeds contempt." This statement is true in marriage as well. The longer you stay married the more risk there is for taking one another for granted. All the different reasons you had for loving each other when you first married can easily get lost in the complexity of life. We forget the good qualities and tend to think about the not-so-good qualities. We allow little things to get under our skin. This allows a critical spirit to grow and it ALWAYS shows up in your speech. How you speak to one another is a pretty good sign of where your heart is. You resort to careless or hurtful words because you have forgotten the good thing you have in your spouse.
Marriage can be defined as amazing moments of euphoric love and intimacy in between lots and lots of hard work! You simply cannot get around the effort that is needed to make your marriage good. Without effort your marriage will experience drift…and NOBODY drifts together. When you grow apathetic with your mate you overlook opportunities to bless them or meet a need. Maybe its time to raise your marriage ambition. Particularly we men can be so caught up in our work ambitions that we never think about being ambitious in our marriage. What would you love to do with your spouse? What cool experiences would you like to share? What dream does your spouse have that you can start supporting?
Wives, I'm sorry if this sounds chauvinistic or crude but your husband is absolutely dying for you to show a flirty, creative, playful and adventurous spirit of romance. When a marriage becomes boring someone starts to look for adventure somewhere else. Husbands you aren't off the hook here. Your wife needs to feel safe, loved and totally accepted to have the confidence to be flirty, creative, playful and adventurous. No one signed up for mediocre. God doesn't want you to have a mediocre, boring marriage. Maybe what's needed is for one of you to kickstart something adventurous. Wives send your husband a "Sext-message" husbands surprise your wife with a romantic dinner out. Shake things up.
Have you given yourself too much permission to be selfish? This happens more than you'd think. We all do it. We justify a desire or need and hold it like its our right. If we aren't getting our way we get frustrated and blow up or pout. We tell ourselves, "if they would just agree with me we'd be doing better." The truth is, marriages don't get better when we act selfish. Selfishness does one thing to marriages - destroys. God told us clearly what makes relationships thrive, giving. If you recognize selfishness in yourself call it out and renounce it. Make the change and start giving.
The first quality of Love in the famous Love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 is "Love is patient." Its no accident that when given the opportunity to describe Love, God's love, the Apostle Paul started with "patient." Intuitively he knew what we know, loving imperfect people starts with a commitment to be patient. Patience is the "staying power" of love. It is the ability to look past a flaw or an inconsistency and give another chance. Couples that begin to drift and struggle almost always have a lack of patience with each other. Instead of looking at one another through a lens of grace there is always a lens critique. It often feels like you can never win with your spouse. Where are you impatient? Do you feel like your love has lost its "staying power?"
We sinners have a real problem lashing out when we aren't getting our way. In marriage disappointment, frustration and feeling lonely often leads to compromise. You are on dangerous ground anytime you venture into arenas that could lead to breaking your vows. Many people will excuse certain behaviors because a physical line isn't crossed. So, compromise often comes in the form of looking at porn or flirting with a friend or texting/messaging an "old flame." Sure, you can say, "nothing happened." But something did happen. You opened the door for someone else or even the idea or image of someone else encroach on your fidelity. Don't let it happen. Protect your vows with everything you've got. Never take your purity for granted!
One of the ways we show a lack of respect or concern for our spouse is delay. Husbands, be quick to attend to your wife's concern. Show her through your quick action and kindness that you value her needs not only above your own but above everyone else's. Wives, in the same way don't be slow to show respect to your husband. It amazes me that so many married couples are unresponsive to one another. We get excited about our hobbies and seeing friends while the most important human relationship we have is being neglected. Stop delaying. Think about the 1-2 things your spouse really wants from you and do it, without delay!