It’s the coined “date night”. A sitter has been hired, and you’ve been looking forward to getting out of the house for some adult conversation. Across the table sits your spouse conversing with one-syllable responses and limited eye contact. You fight back the urge to pick up your cell phone. Glancing around the room you hope to find something to discuss besides the kids, work, and the latest home or car repairs, but nothing worthy of discourse has approached your mind. You look longing back at your phone resisting the temptation to be drawn into the digital world. Suddenly panic sets in as you realize there is nothing the two of you have in common. You are married to a total stranger. How and when did this happen?
You are not alone. “Marriage experts identify certain transition points in the life of even the healthiest marriage — transitions that, if ignored, can leave couples out-of-sync and emotionally disconnected from one another.” (Focus on the Family)
Whether the couple has been married for a few years or forty, all marriages need a regular “tune-up” to keep the marriage healthy. Running idle with the strategies that worked when you were dating may not always drive the marriage forward especially through the key transitions in life including “the birth of a child, children leaving home, and during the retirement of one or both partners.” (Focus on the Family) When a conscious effort is not made to address the pivotal transitions, “it can result in couples who gradually drift apart and take up separate lives, barely noticing that they’ve become total strangers.” (Focus on the Family)
How then can a marriage even attempt to withstand the transitions and changes along the road?
Here are a few suggested ways to “tune-up” your marriage:
Stop going around the mountain! Most arguments within a marriage stem from a deep root of unforgiveness; something the spouse did to offend the other whether intentional or unintentional. By forgiving one another, you are freeing yourself and your spouse from the entrapment of going around the same mountain.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Interview your spouse: People change and so do their interests. Take time to survey what your spouse values, what their strengths, skills, and spiritual gifts are.
Invest your time: Every successful business owner knows that a company does not make itself and the same idea applies to a marriage. A healthy and long standing marriage does not build itself without invested time, work, and energy. Intentionally set aside “date time” each week to vest into the future of your marriage.
Have fun! Find common leisure activities that you can enjoy together whether it’s going for a walk, playing tennis or baking cookies. Don’t forget to laugh, play, and have fun.
Share your dreams and set goals: As long as you have breath, don’t ever stop dreaming. What desires have been placed on your heart? Share them with your spouse and set goals to help accomplish one another’s dreams.
Ask God: Most importantly, establish your relationship on God the Father. By allowing Him to be the center of your marriage, you are trusting Him to lead and guide you along, over, and through the mountains of life.
An “I do” once said is meant for life, but marriage takes work. By vesting the time, sharing your heart, and asking God to be the leader, you are establishing a strong foundation to help keep the lifetime covenant you promised.
“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)
In what ways are you thankful for your spouse?