“We just drifted apart.” That’s something I’ve heard over and over again from different spouses (especially ones who are trying to justify divorcing). My answer to those who give the “drifting apart” line is to tell them, “Then do what it takes to drift back together.”
I say that because it CAN be done. It’s often not easy, but it IS possible.
You can see from the (adorable) Featured Video titled, “It’s not that difficult to find yourselves drifting apart,” that holding hands in the beginning (particularly for those who appear to love and care for one another), can be cute for others to witness.
But what’s even better about it is when they reunite and are able to hold hands again. That brings a major “awe…” to our hearts. It’s too bad that they drifted apart in the first place, but at least they finished well in the end.
The lesson I saw in this is how sweet it is to be holding hands with each other in the beginning of your time (life) together. At the wedding everyone thinks it’s so romantic and sweet. But what’s even better is holding hands and holding one another’s affections after you’ve been married for a long time —especially a long, long time. THAT’S the hard part, but it can also be the sweeter.
It all comes down to choices. Someone or both “partners” are not making choices to help you to continue to “choose one another” when the drifting occurs.
That’s what Steve and I have learned to keep in the forefront of our minds. It’s a matter of making continual everyday choices, both large and small —choices that say, “yes” to our relationship.
Life naturally has a way of getting in between us in our partnership. That’s the natural flow of things. It takes real intentionality not to go with the tide, but to find ways to “drift” and swim back together in marital partnership and intimacy when stuff happens.
It’s not usually as easy for us, as marital partners, as it was for the otters in the video clip. It’s the rare occasion that we can “drift” back together without pro-active movement by least one of us. And then eventually both partners need to participate in making it happen.
Marriage isn’t something you can settle into and forget. It’s like what Dr Kevin Leman says,
“Marriage has no automatic pilot. You can’t flick a switch and lean back and forget about it. You have to stay at the controls, making adjustments, making it fly. Every day you have to decide to love your mate. Everyday.”
Again, maintaining and growing love consists of decisions —it’s a matter of choices.
Steve and I have “drifted apart” in our relationship with each other many, many times in our almost 40 years of marriage. We’ve made poor choices, or no choice —which in itself is a bad choice. But thankfully, in more recent years, we’ve learned not to allow ourselves to lose sight of each other to the point where it takes a mammoth effort to paddle back together again.
In the first part of our marriage, we didn’t. We SURE didn’t! And that’s why it took so much work to get our marriage into a better place again (and again and again, until we finally started to wise up).
A number of years ago, I came across the following letter, which was posted in a magazine (can’t even remember the name of the magazine —but I sure remember the advice because its message has helped us often). A mom, who gave this to her daughter on her wedding day, wrote the following:
“Dear Meg, Living with your dad hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been fun, and full, and most wonderful —especially, because of you!
“But it wasn’t fate that brought us together… I chose him and he chose me. We now choose each other everyday in small ways —like when he calls to tell me he’ll be a little late after seeing a client.
“I choose him when I remember to check with him before making a social engagement.
“In the past, we chose with our hearts and our heads, but now I know that a good marriage also means choosing with our actions.
“Once you make your choice, I know your heart and your head and your actions will make your marriage work.
Isn’t that great advice to receive on your wedding day? How I hope it was well received by both the bride and the groom, and that the advice was taken! If it was and is, Meg, her husband, and anyone else who follows it will do SO much better than he or she ever could do otherwise.
So in closing, I thought I’d give one way in which I choose Steve —something that helps me to grow closer to my husband, rather than distancing us, in our relationship.
One way in which I show that I choose Steve, is when I make an effort to be an ENCOURAGER instead of a DISCOURAGER —To be a DISPENSER of GRACE, rather than a vessel of criticism.
And that isn’t easy, by any means sometimes. I can easily drift into being a vessel of criticism. But again… it takes intentionality. And to my dying day, I pray I never stop being pro-active in dispensing grace and in choosing Steve in big ways and small ways every day of our lives together. With God’s empowering, I will —so help me God.
If you and your spouse find yourselves drifting away from each other in your marriage, please know that his web site is filled with articles and skill-building tools that have helped us (and continue to help us) to keep our marriage afloat in a positive way. Please use what God shows you will work. You can’t do your spouse’s part. But you can do yours. And may God bless you in your efforts!
This blog was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.