Are you living in a lazy marriage?
A while back we received a marriage tip from relationship expert Mort Fertel that got us thinking on this issue. Here’s what he wrote:
“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘You are what you eat?’ This catchy slogan from the fitness industry reminds us that how we ‘spend’ our calories determines our health. Want to be fat? Then eat lots of fat. Want to be healthy? Well, you get the idea.
“When it comes to your marriage, I would say, ‘YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO.’ In other words, how you and your spouse SPEND YOUR TIME determines the strength of your marriage. Spend it together and you’ll feel connected. Do your own thing too often and you might sleep in the same bed, but you’ll feel worlds apart.”
After reading what Mort wrote we talked about the LAZY MARRIAGE. We can see many where spouses invest time, energy, and money in everything and everyone else (especially in Facebook and Twitter time), but with each other. When it comes to their own marriage relationship, there’s nothing. They leave it to “what comes natural.” This essentially means that they do little to nothing about it. If it grows, it grows. If it doesn’t… oh well!
It just doesn’t appear to be a priority to them until it hits them that they aren’t connected in any way. And THEN they recognize that they have a problem. Sadly, this often means that it’s perceived that it’s “too late.” The damage is done. How sad to wait so long to wake up!
We wonder if everyone approached their homes (apartments), vehicles, jobs, children, gardens and yard work that way, what would happen. Actually, we can pretty much tell you that. We’d have a real mess on our hands. Left on their own, each one of those things would get out of hand.
Houses and apartments don’t clean up and repair themselves. Our vehicles need gasoline and regular maintenance to keep them going strong. As for our jobs, just try yawning away at work. Just try not doing anything to contribute to doing what you should. And then see what your boss says and does about it. Obviously you can only get away with being lazy for so long and you won’t have a job any more.
The Need for Nurturing
Our children need nurturing and guidance, and physical and emotional help, at the very least. And gardens and yards… well, weeds, weeds, more weeds. Plus overgrowth crowds out all the good stuff that can grow, feed and nourish us.
But then when it comes to working on our marriage relationships so they grow stronger, too many of us treat it with a “whatever…” attitude. But realize:
“Love is a choice. So choose to love your spouse well. Remember that they are not the same person they were when you met them. Nor are you. So while you may think you know a lot about them, there may be new things to discover if you have the courage to go there.” (Mark Merrill)
And it does take courage. It also takes gumption and grit to challenge yourself when you’ve let yourself fall into the trap of marital complacency. Additionally, you will need to get to a place of “mindfulness.” You will need a “made up mind” in order to fight a lazy marriage attitude.
“Dr. John Gottman states that ‘couples often ignore each other’s emotional needs out of mindlessness, not malice.’ So, if you absentmindedly leave laundry on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink, it most likely isn’t with malicious intent. In fact, there probably isn’t any intent on your part, but rather a lack of mindfulness about your partner’s needs to have a clean house, which could lead to a conflict. To minimize or avoid that conflict, practice daily mindfulness about what your partner needs from you.” (The Gottman Institute)
The Lazy Marriage Fight
Practice mindfulness so lazy attitudes don’t destroy your marriage. Blogger, Serge Bielanko in the Internet article, “Your Laziness Will Kill Your Marriage” says it the following way. Concerning the lazy marriage he writes:
“It’s grueling work being a husband or wife. And when no one’s really paying attention, we start cutting critical emotional and soulful corners. We start drifting from the concentrated effort required to make love last. We get all caught up in ourselves, in our own pursuit of that personal happiness we think we so deserve. But then we end up growing increasingly bored with our own situation. In the end, we begin to wonder if all of this lack of happiness within the marriage might actually be the other person’s fault.
“That’s usually when we start telling ourselves that ‘we married the wrong guy’ or gal. In our tired heads, we plug some other old flame or missed opportunity into the empty snapshot of happiness we have hanging on the wall of our skull. We convince ourselves that we would have been way better off with the one that got away. ‘He was my true soul mate! And he still is! I should know! We talk on Facebook!’
We agree… UGH! It’s time to WAKE UP and realize, “you are what you do.” Actually, we are what we do. If we approach our marriage with a lazy attitude, we will eventually reap what we sow… nothing! It won’t be there for us. And it won’t be there for our children either.
We see so many child-centered marriages where the children are the center of the home. The marriage relationship is put on the back burner. Eventually, there is nothing left of the couple’s relationship.
“One of the big struggles with marriage today is the tendency to put our kids’ needs before those of our spouse. What we don’t realize is that child-centered marriages are often weak marriages. And in the long run they hurt the kids more than help them. If your spouse is not getting his or her emotional needs met by you, often he or she will pour all their energy into the children. The end result is an unhealthy marriage relationship.
Obviously, I’m not talking about neglecting your children. I just want to emphasize the importance of seeking to keep your marriage vows a major priority. When children see a marriage relationship of integrity, they’ll feel more secure. In fact, Scripture says, ‘He who walks with integrity walks securely.‘ (Proverbs 10:9)
“I’m convinced that a marriage of priority and integrity will be one of the best offerings you can provide for your children. You may still need to give extra time and attention to the needs of your kids. This is especially true at certain seasons of their development. However, your kids must also see their mom and dad taking time for each other. They do this through regular date nights, daily connection times, appropriate expressions of romance, and even a commitment to time away for replenishing your relationship. I’m sure you’ve heard the true statement: ‘Do your kids a favor and love your spouse.’” (Jim Burns, from the book, “Creating an Intimate Marriage”)
Doing What It Takes
Lead in love and do yourselves, and society a favor (because strong marriages make a stronger society)… love your spouse. Put some effort into growing your marriage relationship —LEAD IN LOVE. Make an attitude adjustment. Get off the lazy river and be intentional in finding something you can do everyday that will pro-actively bless your spouse and your marriage. Make it your mission, your goal to do so.
You’ll need to mix things up a bit to fight a lazy marriage. You’ll also need to change your approach to your everyday living habits. And we realize that isn’t always easy. When you have settled (a little too much) into a lazy attitude, it’s hard sometimes to pull yourself up and make the necessary changes.
“Sometimes we avoid change, thinking that the pain of correcting behavior is going to be so great that we settle for discomfort that we already know. So often, nothing changes until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of changing. But don’t put off change if you’ve been making mistakes. It might be painful. But preserving your marriage and taking it to a better place, is well worth the pain and effort!” (Jim Burns)
A Wake Up Call
So this is a wake up call to all of us. Are you (are we) ready to mix things up a bit? Look for ways to bless your spouse. Ask him or her if there is anything you can do within the next few days that will bless them.
That will certainly wake up him or her. It could actually introduce excitement. They may be confused for a few moments. But after they shake off the confusion, they could get quite excited. It’s like, “What do you mean? Is this a trick question? Do you mean I didn’t have to nag, or push at you to do this?” THAT’S a blessing in itself, but don’t stop there. Actually do what they ask of you.
And then look for other ways to take your marriage to a new level. Flirt with your spouse. Keep in mind that your marriage CAN be crippled by apathy. It can also die from boredom. Don’t let this happen. Look for ways to stir things up (in pleasant ways). You did this when you were dating each other. Just make a point of looking for ways to do this now that you are married. We have a lot of tips to help you on this web site.
Ideas to Combat the Lazy Marriage Syndrome
If you need a few ideas, here are three articles to get you started. All of them have different suggestions you can use. Mark Merrill wrote the first article and is featured on his web site. The second and third are found on the Marriage Missions web site.
We have a lot of other suggestions on this web site, if you need help. Just look around, and PRAY that God will show you what to do. (One topic, among many, that you could look into is the ROMANTIC IDEAS topic. Romance each other and grow your romantic relationship with each other.) Remember, your marriage will become what you do about it.
Lastly, “Live a life of love” as we’re told to do in Ephesians 5. Be willing to make some sacrifices for your spouse and for your marital relationship. If you do, GREAT will be your reward!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Insights