Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beware the Lazy Marriage!

"The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing,
But the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied."
-Proverbs 13:4

There are several things that make for successful, passionate, satisfying marriages. The least sexy factor is what I call the laziness factor. Laziness is like poison for your relationships.

So often when a couple gets together they go out of their way to serve the other person. They put huge amounts of time, energy, and money into the relationship. But sadly, after marriage most couples get lazy. They redirect their attention and priorities off of their spouse. I say cautiously that men may be more prone to this as soon after marriage many will switch their attention and drive to other things like their career. But women do it too (kids, friends, etc) and it just kind of creeps up on you. Suddenly your couple time is spent in front of the TV or maybe you don't even have any couple time at all. Your dating life is in the toilet (along with intimacy) and you start to get bored. Too much of these times and you start to lose hope. Can we ever be close again? Can sex be exciting again? Why can't we have fun anymore?

When I was dating Jobina (my wife) I never in a million years would have imagined that I would have to constantly "work" at our relationship after we got married - I assumed it would be natural just like when we were going out. Sadly true love is not enough. Like most couples we go through periods where only one of us (or neither of us) is investing much in our relationship. These are always the most difficult and least satisfying times in our relationship.

Combating relationship marriage is not a one time deal. It takes constant attention, initiating, and work. Here are a few pointers:

1. Go on dates - at least once a month, preferably more. Why date after getting married? Because its the best way to show the other person that you are still pursuing them, that you still care, that you still want to enjoy life together. Dating gets you out of your routine. It also gives you time alone to talk, catch up, and inquire into each other lives. Regular dating is probably one of the best ways to avoid marital laziness, infidelity, boredom, and depression. What's your excuse? If it's finances, let me ask you: How much would a divorce cost you? Is it babysitters? I've yet to meet a couple who couldn't get access to a babysitter - if they really wanted to. Is it time? Well, then maybe you or your spouse need to drop something. Stop making excuses and get moving! Even a stay-at-home date can be satisfying - as long as it's fun.

2. Quality time. How much quality time do you and your spouse spend per week together? Willard Harley, a successful marriage counselor says that healthy marriages need at least 10-15 hours a week of quality time (dedicated to giving each other your attention) just to maintain the health they already have! More is needed if a couple is not doing well or is in crisis. I have sat with many couples who have tried to convince me that they simply couldn't find that much time but when they realized their marriage was on the line they were able to sacrifice things and make it happen. Most of the time there is a huge improvement with less fighting, more sex, and more feelings of enjoying each other. How much time do you and your spouse enjoy together each week, without distraction? Quality time together meeting each other's emotional needs (affection, sexual fulfilment, conversation, recreational companionship, etc.) is not a luxury, it is a requirement. Without it, all relationships will begin to get lazy and wither.

3. Money. I know lots of people who will generously give money to their church, the United Way, or even a street person but balk at the idea of spending money on their relationship. Think about it, what other institution do you know that can run successfully without money? That's right, none. Money may seem unromantic as far as being necessary to a marriage but as the Bible says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If you care about your marriage you will put your money behind it. It doesn't matter if you don't have lots to spend (and I realize some people are financially hurting) but really, do you want to be cheap with your most important relationship? Dating, going on romantic vacations, flowers, lingerie, going for cofee, chocolates, cards, retreats, etc all cost money. How much money do you spend on your relationship? Is it in your budget? What do you need to change?

So there you go, three areas we get lazy; dating, quality time, and money. Investing in these areas is not a guarantee to a perfect relationship, but if you are lazy in these areas it will be extremely difficult to have a great marriage. So what are you waiting for? Get on it! You don't want to end up like the people in the picture do you?


Jobina said...

"Get on it!"
Okay, okay, I'm gettin' on it! You, my dear Mark, better get yourself ready for an awesome date with your wife tonight!

TammyIsBlessed said...

This is an excellent post, and so very true! We have definitely made it a priority to go on dates and holidays, to invest in our marriage. So important!

Mrs. E said...

Very true, its like once we get the rings on the fingers, the chase is over.