Pete and Pam’s marriage felt blah. Now more than ever, they lived like roommates, couldn’t even say best friends these days.
It wasn’t always that way.
Recently, Pete asked Pam why she did more things by herself. Whenever Pete suggested an activity to do together, Pam shrugged him off. What he didn’t admit was feeling shut out of her life. Pam couldn’t tell him she felt drained by all their recent fighting. She’d tried to explain her feelings to him several times over the last couple of months, but Pam felt unheard. Their life seemed too busy and disconnected.
Pete and Pam now had an unhealthy marriage relationship.
Perhaps you can relate.
It’s challenging to learn to live with one another in an understanding way. We aren’t born knowing how to get along with each other.
An unhealthy marriage relationship happens when we neglect it.
Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do.
It’s the way you love your partner every day. —Barbara De Angelis
Life moves along. You feel comfortable with each after those first few months. Therein lies the danger. Comfort, while lovely to experience, can lead to taking each other for granted. You allow other activities and interests to take precedence over your spouse because you feel safe with them. Before long, you realize you don’t see or spend much time with your spouse. You’ve lost the intimacy you had. While this is a warning sign, it doesn’t have to be a death knell to your marriage. It’s time to take action.
Moving from an unhealthy marriage relationship to a healthy one requires we:
1. Live like Jesus.
The only way to live like Jesus is to study His life and imitate Him. That’s what it means to be a disciple. You might also think apprentice. Both disciples and apprentices learn from their teacher by following their ways, studying their lives, and even living with the teacher. We learn about Jesus through diligent study of the Bible. Read the first four books of the New Testament to learn about Jesus. Reading these different accounts is like observing an object from 360 degrees and noticing the different nuances. Each brings a different perspective on his life.
2. Eliminate hurry.
When you study Jesus’ life, you’ll notice He didn’t hurry. He spent time with people. Someone always had an idea of what He needed to do or where He should be, but Jesus didn’t allow others to rush Him. One of my favorite stories of Jesus being present involves the woman who’d been bleeding for years. En route to help the synagogue leader whose daughter was dying, Jesus senses this woman who only wanted to touch His robe to be healed hopefully. Desperate, she did just that. And Jesus stopped and asked who touched Him. In the middle of a crowd. This woman knelt before Jesus and admitted she was the one. Jesus spoke gently and kindly to her before continuing on His way.
3. Minimize distractions.
In our culture, we seem to think that being busy is a badge of honor. We spend hours on our phones checking email, answering text messages, scrolling through social media, researching something on the internet, making purchases, listening to podcasts or music, paying bills, and more. How does it feel to talk with someone who constantly checks their phone? It’s so easy to be distracted these days. One way to minimize distractions is to put your phones away during mealtimes. Give your spouse and family members the gift of time.
4. Prioritize people.
a. Share other’s burdens
b. Serve one another out of love for Christ
c. Stop comparing with another person
d. Enjoy your work
e. Be responsible for your conduct
f. Tell the truth
g. Give generously to others
h. Be kind to each other
i. Forgive each other
j. Practice hospitality
What about Pete and Pam? Or you, if you feel the same way?
Can you reconnect and change an unhealthy marriage to a healthy marriage?
I believe you can if you both desire it.
Here are some suggestions to rekindle a healthy marriage relationship:
- Seek biblical marriage counseling.
- Practice good communication habits.
- Give each other the gift of time.
Love is a four-letter word spelled T-I-M-E. —Unknown
Healthy relationships develop slowly over time, and they’re worth it.
What steps will you take today to nurture your marriage?