"We just don't talk anymore."
"We're just not as affectionate anymore."
"It feels like we're living two different lives."
"I love my spouse, but it feels more like we're roommates than husband and wife."
These are examples of what many couples face each day in marriage. Not everyone is on the brink of divorce, many times couples are are just slowly drifting apart. Why does this happen?
I believe couples often underestimate the impact of their lives growing complicated as the years come and go. In the midst of all that happens each day with careers, kids, hobbies and chores, marriage can feel like an obstacle course that you are simply trying to survive in. By the time the day winds down, you find yourself vegged out in front of the TV to get a few minutes of mindless peace. The problem is, the one issue that that desperately needs attention and remains a source of frustration is your marriage.
Let me normalize this issue. You are not alone. If you have been married for more than 5 years and have at least one child, you know exactly what i'm talking about! We've all been there, including me. So, what do we do?
1. "Become friends with reality." Henry Cloud uses this phrase in his book Necessary Endings and I love it! "We must recognize that our lives are an obstacle course!" We all have tons to do. This is reality. Sometimes it means we must recognize ways that we are over-committed and make hard choices to reduce some activity in our lives. Try to identify one or two activities that seem to be robbing your marriage and make a change. For many of us, especially those who have multiple kids, this is life until you send them off to college!
2. Keep your eyes on the prize. Every day, remember that at the end of this obstacle course is a prize. That prize is the person you have committed your life to "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health"...no matter how many hurdles you have to jump! You must decide to make your spouse your prize - not the couch and TV at the end of a long day. Often, the last big obstacle at the end of the day is the umph to start a conversation or the "intentional cuddling" every marriage needs. This prize may not get you the extra hours of sleep you want. It will give you the peace of knowing your are connected with your spouse and this is a life-giving force to get up and start the race again tomorrow!
3. Don't quit too soon. For many couples, taking these steps means changing from a well worn routine at home. Your spouse may not respond at first. You may get the confused and frustrated question, "What are you doing?" Do it anyway! Do it again tomorrow. Don't quit. Remember, changing our patterns takes time but that is the only way to reclaim the marriage you once had and always hoped you'd keep.
Everyone knows that marriage is hard work which means you will need a strong "marriage work ethic" to enjoy marriage the way God intended. There will always be obstacles to having and enjoying a God-centered marriage; be ready to jump, dodge, tuck and roll or whatever you have to do to make your marriage a great one!
What obstacle is keeping you and your spouse from truly connecting?
What are you going to do to overcome the obstacle?
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