Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Your Marriage May Be Getting Stale Without You Knowing It

Have you ever headed to the refrigerator anticipating a cold drink of milk or juice, a crisp piece of fruit or a crunchy vegetable. Or maybe your more decadent taste buds were already salivating as you thought about that one piece of pie or other dessert still there.

But when you went to take that first drink or bite, you knew in an instant your choice was no good anymore. The delicious flavor had lost out to time. Nothing would save it and you threw it all away.

Things get stale, deteriorate if left alone, even in an environment designed to keep them fresh a little longer like a refrigerator. And so do marriages. Without attention, care and intentional feeding our relationship, though perhaps in a relatively healthy environment can become pungent and lose its flavor if we don't make caring for it a priority.

We get busy, focused on our kids or parents, run ragged at our job, overwhelmed by too many commitments and don't notice the deteriorating relationship with our spouse.

And if we don't stop and re-evaluate, shore up our time, intimacy and connecting as a couple, the results may approach being irreversible like that piece of fruit that has lost all its flavor and shape.

So what do we do to keep a marriage fresh?

Of course, there are hundreds of ideas that can help, some working for one couple, different ones being effective for others.

But let me repeat a few general guidelines:

Take inventory. Get away or take an evening or two now and then and admit how you're doing or not doing. Be honest. Ask each other, How do you think I've been doing as a spouse the last few months? Be lovingly ruthless and admit it if you've gotten distracted. Talk about what the two of you might work on to put some focus back on yourselves.

Add margin. You will never enrich your relationship if you don't make time for it. I can't tell you specifically what to do but I can pretty much guarantee that you'll need to cut something  -  attending so many kids' activities, not volunteering as much, letting go of some overtime, you decide. But it will be worth it. Is anything worth losing the most important relationship, apart from God, that you'll have in this life?

Do some planning together. Think about some things that you both would enjoy doing that you're not going to wait to do until after you retire. You can't do them all, but how about some of them?  A trip, weekend away, take a class, do a missions trip, a cruise, etc.

Marriages left alone don't stay healthy and vibrant. And we can't blame when they do on nature alone. It's our choice to keep our relationship strong, exciting and always growing. Check your marriage refrigerator often.  That can save you a lot of surprises and disappointments.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

1 comment:

  1. I do get concerned that my marriage is getting kind of stale....boring. We are in the throes of family life, and enjoying it, but can see the stereotypical stuff popping up. Hubby comes home from work and goes his way. I have mounds of chores left and go my way. By the time the kids are in bed, I have been with them all day (homeschool) with no real me-quiet time (I need solitude and quiet to rejuvinate). So, I grab some quiet time and then go to hubby who is already sleeping in bed.

    We don't date because it is hard finding a sitter for all the kids we have, and we are financially strained due to years of medical emergencies. Also, hubby likes to go to the movies. I don't. I don't like 98% of movies, theater dates are impersonal, and I feel badly watching and PAYING for all that sin and debauchery in most movies these days. Hubby doesn't like the lighter fare.

    I like to go out to eat. Being the sole chef of the house, I do all the shopping, gardening, foraging, most of the butchering (I raise our own meat), the cooking, AND the cleaning up afterwards. It is nice to have a meal prepared, served, and cleaned up for me with no children to tend to and coerce into eating just one bite of potato. Hubby doesn't like to eat we don't eat out. If we get a gift card to a restaurant, I typically end up either taking the kids or going by myself.

    I do try to go along with what he likes to do, but recently started being more honest that no, I really really am not interested. But, I don't want to cause division or separation.

    On the other hand, he typically refuses any plans or ideas I have. Took 13 years before he agreed to staying overnight in a hotel!

    We had a mutual hobby, but it was costly and we had to quit after the babies were born.

    We connect sexually pretty well, and try to find times for conversation on a near daily basis.

    So, I don't know if I am just wrongfully comparing us to couples who do mutually date, or if I am seeing a caution flag that needs to be addressed.