We’ve been looking at the important subject of spending time with each other in marriage. We aren’t just talking about being physically in the same house or exchanging information that is necessary to run a household, but actually finding and MAKING the time to nurture your relationship. We call them “important maintenance measures” to KEEP our love and care for each other alive and vital.
After-all, marriage is a living picture to the world of Christ’s love for the church. For that reason, it’s not a relationship we should take lightly!
It truly amazes us as we see married couples living in the same house, loving the same children, experiencing commonality with their faith, family and friends, and yet they lose their first love for each other. They allow “life” to slide in and create an expanding chasm between them. A person would think when you share as much history together, you would ultimately be best friends. But that just isn’t true in many, many marriages.
Neglecting the Relationship
“As much as we enjoy having close friends, many of us as couples overlook the most rewarding source of friendship we have —each other. It doesn’t start out that way. While dating, we work hard to please each other. We do this even to the point of personal sacrifice. Yet in the bustle of daily life, friendship gradually becomes simply ‘getting along.’ Many couples are so caught up with kids, jobs, and church activities they have no time for friendship” (Conrad Smith).
Our (Steve and Cindy’s) hearts are so burdened as we see this happening all around us. That’s one of the many reasons we’re so driven to help couples grow their marriages into being the most loving relationships possible.
If you don’t believe you and your spouse can do this because of where you are in your lives today —never, ever underestimate the miracles that God can do as you give your life to Him. “Nothing is impossible with God.” We’ve seen the deadest of marriages resurrected into wonderful, vibrant relationships. It’s amazing what God can do through even ONE spouse who commits to follow God’s leading.
Maybe you think you have “married the wrong person” —but as Dr Randy Carlson says:
“You may think that you married the wrong person, but the day you married them, they became the right person. That is because of the vow you made to them before God.”
God can help to awaken even a “dead” relationship as you allow Christ to live and love in and through you. We’ll write more about this in coming weeks. But what we’d like to pass on to you a few additional quotes from “marriage experts” to help you with this issue. We pray they will help you as you examine prayerfully what they write.
Marriage Tips to Prayerfully Consider:
• “Marriage has no automatic pilot. You can’t flick on a switch and lean back and forget about it. You have to stay at the controls, making adjustments, making it work. Every day you have to decide to love your mate.
“For some reason we seem to think that because we enter into marriage in love, our love will automatically continue to grow for each other after the wedding without putting any work into keeping it going strong. That type of reasoning is a lot like saying, ‘My car is filled up with plenty of fuel today, so it should be fine to keep using it from now on without doing anything else to it.'” (Dr Kevin Leman).
• “It’s a sad state of affairs when we take better care of our cars and houses than we do our marriages. We change the oil, fill the tank, and periodically tune up our cars. We change light bulbs, wash windows, paint walls, unplug toilets, and re-roof our houses, but what do we do to maintain our marriage?
“The truth is: more damage is done than repairs are made. How important is your marriage? Is it more important to you than your car or your home? Are you willing to put in the time and energy and whatever else it takes to prove to your partner how valuable the relationship truly is to you?” (Dr Steve Stephens)
• “Saying ‘I do’ doesn’t mean you’re done! Nobody ever put gas in a car and expected it to run for years. But lots of couples are running on emotional fumes. Truth is, if you’re not dating your spouse, your relationship is running out of gas.” (“40 Unforgettable Dates with Your Mate”)
• “Marriage gets the leftovers —leftover energy, leftover excitement, leftover creativity, and leftover thoughtfulness. We do everything else first. And then, if there’s time and we’re not exhausted, we’ll see if there’s something special or loving we can do for our spouses.
“I wonder what would happen if we flipped this around, if we started working after we focused on being married; if we fit our play and recreation around our duty to our spouses; if the kids had to occasionally give up something in order for Mom and Dad to get together —instead of the other way around. What would our marriages be like then? (Gary Thomas)
• “Instead of waiting for your [spouse] to be romantic, go ahead and try initiating romance yourself. That’s right —you! Sometimes we women (and many husbands) cling to the silly notion that spelling it out for [our spouse] ruins the romance. We want them to read our minds and create the romantic evening we’ve always dreamed of.
“Frankly, we need to get over it! If we don’t invest in romantic love, we take the risk that our marriage will become dull, boring, and disconnected. More marriage die because two people drift apart than because of a crisis.” (Melanie Chitwood)
More Marriage Maintenance Measures:
• “Making your spouse a priority in your mind and a priority on paper (in your schedule) are different. We can say our spouse is a top priority, but do we make sure we schedule time to spend with them? Also, our definition of how we ‘connect’ can be different. We need to make sure we both feel we’re connecting.” (Tim Downs)
• “Marriage relationships, like all living things, need constant nourishment in order to flourish and grow. Simply put, marriage relationships need attention. …Marriages are like my house. I live in a two-story home surrounded by evergreen trees. When I clean out the gutters, I think the job should last for a year. But I’m mistaken. Pretty soon, needles and debris choke the downspout again.
“I think that my front porch light bulb should last for an eternity. I’m always surprised when it goes out and needs to be replaced. Our furnace has air filters which should continue unaffected for 10 years or more. Instead, if not cleaned out 2-3 times a year, they simply cease to function.
“What’s the matter with my house? Nothing! Even superior homes containing good foundations are solid building materials require maintenance. Always, they require attention. In the same way, even superior marriages with great foundations of years together and solid relational skills require maintenance to realize their full, God-given potential.” (Art Hunt)
Please Realize That:
• “Love, by itself, is not enough to sustain even the most loving couples. Marriage requires new skills in communication, conflict resolution and so on. Love cannot protect a marriage from harm. But love combined with effective skills can overcome all.” (Drs Les and Leslie Parrott)
• “Love is the one business in which it pays to be an absolute spendthrift: Give it away; splash it over; shake the basket; and tomorrow you’ll have more than ever.” (“God’s Little Instruction Book on Love”)
We hope you will work together to make your marriages grow healthy in intimate, covenantal love with each other and with God. Please know that a “cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Steve and Cindy Wright
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