On our wedding day, we promised to stay together “til death do us part.” Barring an unforeseen tragedy, we look forward to growing old side by side. Yet we face a real danger to our marriage in these years in between—the demands of parenting, work, and busy schedules are an urgent threat to a close, lasting relationship.
We can’t expect our pace to slow down any time soon. Our kids need constant attention and care. To accomplish our work, we have to show up and give our best effort. Our community of friends and family deserves participation in their lives. Investing hours to serve and volunteer puts our faith in action. Life is full of great stuff that makes us who we are. However, our marriage can fall to the bottom of the list. We let busyness chip away at our intimacy until we find ourselves lonely and painfully distant from one another.
Today we offer four ways to stay close when life is pulling us apart:
Grab a Sharpie.
Mark out a weekly spot for “us” on your calendar in permanent ink. Regular dates are essential for staying caught up on each other’s lives. Give yourselves the gift of uninterrupted conversation. Make eye contact. Hold hands. Create some memories for the two of you. Make your dates a non-negotiable part of your routine to keep breathing life into your relationship.
Close the door.
Reclaim your bedroom for your marriage. It’s not an extension of the laundry room where everybody’s shorts get folded. It’s not your little ones’ sleeping space where they crawl between you every night. It’s not your storage unit for the family’s clutter. It’s not your office or home theater, where you answer emails or watch movies under the covers. Do all you can to make your room a place of rest and intimacy for you and you alone. See what some candles, fresh sheets, and a lock on the door can do to kindle the romance between you.
Count the cost.
Does your son really need one more after-school activity? Can your church find another willing volunteer this time? Can your daughter’s impulsive desire for new shoes wait until your regular shopping day? Will your extended family disintegrate if you opt out of next weekend’s barbecue? Your marriage (and your family) deserves some breathing room on the calendar. Give yourself at least 24 hours to talk and pray before saying ‘yes’ to any new opportunity. Ask the tough question of “Will this commitment build us up or tear us down as a couple?” before stepping in. Let your schedule reflect your priorities—the health of your marriage and family.
Dig a little deeper.
Small efforts are huge in our marriage. Add some “always” traditions to your day, like meeting at the door for a kiss whenever one of you gets home. Make a daily call or text to say “I love you” on your lunch break. Go to bed at the same time every night. Pick up a thoughtful habit, like charging your spouse’s phone or making the morning coffee. Be intentionalwith lots of compliments and thank-yous. Put your devices down to give full attention when talking. Pray spontaneously together for the stressors that pop up during the day.
Today’s challenges and responsibilities will pass.
Our kids will grow up and our role in their lives will change. Current passions and pursuits will fade away or lead us in new directions. The constant thread running through our years is our marriage. Let’s hold on tight so we grow stronger, deeper, and more in love through it all.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)