The title of this Marriage Message is, “Good Marriages Require Effort.” We named it that because that’s what it takes to make a marriage a good one. It takes a lot of effort. Sometimes it is easier than other times, but it also takes times of stretching outside of our comfort zone. Good things don’t just happen and stay good without concerted effort and maintenance. This especially applies to keeping the romantic sparks alive in your relationship.
Is your romantic relationship still alive and vital in your marriage? Or would you have to do what Doug Fields wrote? “Would you have to reach into the archives of your memory for a faded experience that you can hardly remember?” We agree with something else he wrote:
“Those that are delusional think that love is sustainable because of the wonderful relationship they start with before the wedding (or before the kids came along). But that’s such a fallacy! Just look at the divorce rate and ask yourselves how many of those couples thought the same thing?” (Doug Fields)
Putting in the Effort Towards Romance
A love relationship is dynamic. It’s one that either grows deeper and richer because its been fed through the intentional efforts of those involved. Or it can evaporate into shallowness or disintegrate into “nothingness” because of neglect. If we are going to continue to grow our relationship it will take our best efforts. It will take continual intentionality. Most married couples either don’t realize that, or they forget.
For the remainder of this message we’d like to share with you some thoughts Doug Fields writes in his book, Creative Romance. He brings out some great principles. We hope you’ll give them serious thought. And then we urge you to put your best efforts into action into making your marriage a happy one and “successful.”
First, Doug talks about all of the different excuses we can give as to why we can’t keep dating each other. Many of them are very valid. There is the cost, the time it takes, what to do with the children, and tiredness after working long weeks. There are also the problems with finding babysitters, all that needs to be done at home, bad weather conditions, and the list goes on.
Romance Takes Concerted Effort
But then Doug writes truths we should all prayerfully consider:
“It’s true. We can always think of excuses to avoid doing certain things. I can think of 10 reasons for not getting out of bed in the morning, and another 5 for not filling my car with gasoline. I can make all he excuses I want to. But eventually the pressures of reality will force me into action. The urgency of life tells me I’d better get out of bed and get gas in my car.
“Otherwise, I’ll never make it to work. I’ll get myself fired, and I’ll end up without enough money for survival! I’m forced to do what I should, regardless of my excuses. That’s reality.
“But as far as my marriage is concerned, the consequences of my excuses aren’t nearly as tangible or immediate. If I don’t take (my wife) Cathy out on Friday night —so what? Life will go on. I’ll still be employed. And I’ll still be able to afford gas. I’m not forced to make any special effort toward our relationship because there appears to be no urgency.
“I can continue not making deposits for a long time before my marriage account dries up. You don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out that this sort of attitude lies behind the rapid deterioration of marriages.
“…If you want to add life to your marriage, perhaps even save its life, you’d better do whatever it takes to bring romance back into the picture. There’s no quick fix. But if you’re willing to make the proper investments, you’ll find great rewards. So —in the face of all the excuses, let’s take a look at a few important ways you’ll benefit from dating your spouse.
• “Dating strengthens your relationship. It builds up marriages and helps solidify your marital foundation. Enduring relationships aren’t constructed out of fleeting emotions and occasional passion. They’re solidly built on quality time spent together, each partner investing in the other. Cathy and I have a date-night once a week. Almost without exception, our time of shared experiences and intimacy brings us closer together.
“It’s not always easy and inexpensive to find a babysitter, but we place high priority on our weekly dates. And the value they add to our marriage can’t be measured in financial terms.
• “A long-term benefit of dating your spouse is the model you set in place for your children. One of the best ways we can demonstrate love to our children is by expressing affection to our mates. When children have observed their parents placing priority on dating and romance, they’ll carry that expectation into their own significant relationships.
• “Kids need to see quality, loving relationships in a world where those aren’t the norm. It’s not uncommon for kids to fear their parents will get a divorce —half of their friends are children of divorce, and many kids think it’s only a matter of time before it happens to their family. Your dating can relieve a tremendous amount of pressure from your children and set an example they’ll never forget.
Bigger Picture Benefits
“Are you seeing the BIGGER PICTURE in the benefits of dating your spouse? Think through this illustration: There were two construction workers who were busy working on a huge brick-laying project. A passerby was curious about the future of the building. She stopped the workers and asked, ‘Just what is it you’re building?’
“The first worker told her he was simply laying bricks trying to finish a construction project. When she asked the second worker the same question he stood and proudly explained to her he was helping to build a great cathedral. He was able to see the big picture, and was excited about the outcome. He viewed his job as a worthy task.
“As you think about your own marriage situation you might want to answer that same question, “What are YOU building?'”
If you’re aiming to build a solid God-honoring marriage that is a “light-house” to the world of the beautiful love relationship a Christian married couple, you’ll need to put forward your BEST efforts.
Put in Your Best Effort
To do this, some practical advice from actor Kirk Cameron would be good to keep in mind:
“Couples need to make the most of little opportunities, even if it’s only 10 to 20 minutes here or there. If couples wait for the semiannual vacation trip to connect, they will drift apart. Two weeks a year is not enough together time. To keep their marriage healthy, couples need to connect every day.”
Do this even if it’s just a matter of finding “pockets of time” to spend together.
To help you in this mission, we have quite a few articles and romantic tips posted on our web site. Many of them can be found in the Romantic Ideas topic. You may also want to read the following articles by clicking into:
Always know, our love and prayers are with you. Together we can and must work to make our marriages the best they can be in Christ.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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