Lately, I've been interacting with a lot of engaged and newly married couples. It is fun to watch the union of two people who want nothing more than to be together. In those stages, individuals seem to feel like they can't breathe without the other. Our focus can be entirely on the other person and during single life, individuals often feel like life will be incomplete if they do not get married to that person who has captured their attention and their heart.
As relationships continue, a transformation in this mindset can occur. Often, you see married couples who want nothing more than to be apart. In those stages, individuals seem to feel like the other person is smothering and suffocating them and impeding their ability to breathe. Focus seems to shift to self and during married life, individuals often feel like life will be incomplete if they do not find a way out of the marriage and away from the person who once captured their complete attention and total heart.
What a drastic change!
So, how do we avoid this transformation from feeling like you can't live without your person to feeling like you can't live with your person? Here are 3 suggestions:
1. Keep your connection.
- Stay connected spiritually - Pray together, read the bible together, do church life together, build each other up spiritually and encourage your person's spiritual growth. These activities keep Christ as the central focus of your marriage. Chances are much greater with the pursuit of Jesus as a shared goal in your marriage.
- Stay connected emotionally - Share thoughts, share feelings, share reactions, comfort each other, work to bring joy to each other. Communication is essential. Communication kills conflict and communication keeps you connected, so develop strategies to ensure healthy communication in your marriage.
- Stay connected physically - Remember when you couldn't keep your hands off of each other when it was leading to sinful activity? Now it is time to keep your hands on each other. Don't let the bedroom lose its passion; it's up to you to keep the passion in your relationship. Part of the pre-marital intrigue with sex is that you're breaking the rules... and for some reason (mostly, our sinful nature), that can feel exciting. Once you're married, you have to incorporate new ways to bring excitement into your physical connection.
- Marriage doesn't mean you stop having a life; it actually can, and should, enhance both of your lives. You just have to find ways to make sure that your individual lives are helping fulfill the shared goals of your merged life. You are indeed living for your person, but part of living for that person involves some self-care and progress towards your individual goals as well. Your person won't be happy with you if you aren't happy with yourself.
- In marriage, you spend a lot of time together. In order to keep that time as something you both look forward to, you have to build in some time apart. Give your person something to look forward to - your person can't ever miss you if you never go away. In fact, if you never go away, your person is going to begin to dread seeing you coming. Develop a hobby - spend some time with the right friends - go after a positive pursuit that your person can support - spend some time with yourself. I always tell people, every now and then you need to take yourself on a date. If you don't like spending time with you, why would anyone else?
3. Don't stop trying.
- Whatever it took to get your person, it will take double to keep your person. Make every effort to make your person's life better. If you sent flowers pre-marriage, send more flowers during marriage; if you took each other out on dates pre-marriage, do more dates during marriage; if you kept yourself looking good pre-marriage, don't start looking a mess during marriage. Successful marriages require determined effort.
- In marriage, there is a new golden rule - Do unto your person as they want you to do unto them! Love your person the way he/she wants to be loved. Love shifts and it takes effort to keep up with the changing demands of your spouse. What your person needs during marriage may be something totally different than what was needed before marriage. Don't get frustrated and stop trying to keep up with new needs - keep trying. You won't always succeed, but you need to always try. Discover, what Chapman calls, your love language - and, the CURRENT love language of your person. Once you discover it, speak that language to your person. Whether words, acts, gifts, time, or touch - speak their language. (For more information on Chapman's love languages and to take the love language assessment, visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/)
Prayer: Today, I pray for the success of our marriages. Marriage is sometimes challenging and frustrating, but it is also beautiful and rewarding. Lord, help us to experience the best of marriage and to overcome the pitfalls that attempt to steal the joy of our marriages. Give us strategic ideas to make our marriages successful. Empower us to be successful in our pursuit of good and healthy marriages and help us to always glorify You through our care and love for our spouses. We ask for your help; we thank you for our opportunity; and we believe You for our success. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Contributed by: Pastor Razel Jones