But that's kind of the problem, isn't it? People ignore the advice because there's nothing fancy about it.
The movies make it look so effortless. Steamy books and TV shows make it seem that every moment of a successful male-female relationship should curl-your-toes and ooze with sexiness.
But Godly people should NOT take cues from an ungodly culture. Marriage is not rocket science, but it's also not a cakewalk.
This is the the least 'sexy' part about this advice. But the ironic part of it is that working on your marriage LEADS TO the truly sexy things of marriage.
It can seem so boring, but the reality is that WORKING on your marriage produces a marriage that is vibrant and alive.
Recently, I got an email from a reader who asked me a lot of questions about how to stop living like roommates, and start living like lovers & friends again. After sharing a few thoughts & pointing her in the direction of an article I'd written about intentionally having "check-ups" in your marriage, she wrote back the following:
"Years ago, things like that didn't seem spontaneous enough. But now with time being of the essence, I think I see the value. You've encouraged me to be a bit bolder."The truth is that if we act intentionally (not in a boring, plodding way, but in a purposeful way) at times when things are going well, the relationship won't deteriorate near as easily. But when we think that WORK is unnecessary (or perhaps, like she said, maybe not spontaneous or romantic or "natural" enough), then things often deteriorate to the point where it takes much more effort and work (and will probably feel more forced than it would have in the "good" times) in order to resuscitate what has lost vigor and vitality.
So, yes. WORK. Work at it.
Work diligently to invest in your marriage.
Even though you're tired, make the effort to reach out (or respond to his suggestion) and make love. When you intentionally surrender and release yourself into the moment, you'll find it more enjoyable than you would have thought possible.
WORK to discuss things when they come up (problems between the two of you, AND just general things going on in your heart and life) so that then when you have time to be intimate, your mind, body, and soul will already be geared toward connection with and healthy relationship with your husband.
When you're broke, work to have special times together at home, even if you can't afford a date. We have been through nearly a decade at this point of having very infrequent, sometimes nonexistent date nights. When we lived overseas, opportunities to get out alone together were rare. When we had the opportunity, we took it. And when we didn't, we worked to make time where we could be alone, at home together. That meant getting the kids in bed earlier, and eschewing certain things like wrapping up the dishes or catching up on a show or e-mails so that we could spend intentional time together.
Contrary to what we are led to believe, having a healthy, fun marriage takes work.
Yours. Not your parents'. Not your best friend's. Not mine. Yours.
Comparison leads to discontentment, so don't compare your marriage to others'. Each person has their own load to carry. Catch a vision from God about what He can do in YOUR marriage. And then work on it.
Talk, intentionally, about what's going on in your marriage. Use the questions Doug & I use for annual marriage check-ups, or think up some of your own.
Here's the truth: your marriage is not magically going to go the distance. Sin, selfishness, human frailty, and time will wear on your relationship unless you are actively pouring into it.
You will not magically wake up one day at 65 or 70 years old with a God-honoring, healthy, joyful relationship with your spouse. [Click to TWEET that.] You must work at it.
Work on YOUR marriage.
Look at the places where your particular relationship needs effort. Just like each garden has its own spots that can get out of control, and no two gardens are identical, the same is true for marriage.
Your friends may have trouble communicating. Perhaps your husband is non-responsive in the bedroom. Maybe your mom was domineering toward your dad, but you have the opposite problem: you're a doormat. Maybe your sister-in-law is a great homemaker but your giftings lie elsewhere.
Don't look at other people to try to determine what YOU need to work on in your marriage. Examine YOUR marriage.
Determine where YOU need to be at work in it, and how you can develop oneness with your husband. Catch a vision for what your marriage can look 25, 40, 50 years from now.
And then get after it. Get to work.
This is not a business partnership or a roommate situation. You are not merely raising children together, nor are you only sexually connected. This is not a train track situation where you lead lives endlessly pointed in the same direction, but never actually connect.
God means for you to be knit together with your husband. This means that you need to be connected- living your lives together. Intentionally growing, intentionally connecting... sharing your dreams and hopes and lives. Iron sharpening one another, each of you propelling the other closer to Christ, and closer to Christlikeness, than you would by yourself.
Caring for one another, you are each nourished and stronger than you could be on your own.
OR, you can NOT work on your marriage. Keep going as you always have. Keep getting what you've always gotten.
The choice is yours, and mine, to make today and every day from this point forward.
Good marriages don't just happen. They take work.
ARTICLES TO HELP YOU WORK ON YOUR MARRIAGE:
- The Intentional Marriage - PRACTICAL TIPS FOR A STRONG MARRIAGE
- STUDY YOUR HUSBAND- Pay attention to what YOUR man prefers/enjoys.
- The Annual Marriage Questionnaire- QUESTIONS FOR INSIGHTFUL DISCUSSION
- Intimate Deprivation- Can a Christian couple have a sexless marriage?
- WHEN SEX DRIVES DON'T MATCH- John Piper weighs in
- COMPARING YOUR SPOUSE- Allistair Begg's wise encouragement about marriage.
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