By Shaun Burrow, PHD, LMFT-s, LPC, Counseling and Family Life Minister at A&M Church of Christ
Many couples seem to feel that marriage is like selecting the right plane and then putting it on autopilot. Drifting is often a by-product of marriages stuck on autopilot. The drifting effect in a marriage is often indicative of drifting in your relationship with God. It’s a heart disease that takes hold of your heart and your mind.
God knows our tendencies and warns us be on guard to complacency. “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (New International Version, Deuteronomy 4.9)
It is our responsibility as Christian husbands and fathers to be faithful to God’s calling and to teach the next generation the importance of intentionally and consistently pursuing eternal things rather than temporal things.
I often hear couples say, “We just drifted apart.” This interestingly enough is often cited as the reason couples divorce. Just as warriors go into battle with an intentional plan to ensure victory, the marital battle plan must also be comprehensive in order to be effective in your spiritual, physical, and emotional walk together. Renewing old habits and creating new patterns are a few ways to begin actively implementing the element of pursuit in your marriage.
RENEW THE OLD
I’m reminded of a story about a man who had a ritual of watching sports on television every weekend. One Saturday afternoon he blurted out to his wife, “Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, where I’m dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens to me, just pull the plug.” So his wife got up and unplugged the TV.
Your marriage requires time and effort to grow. Decide to make it a daily priority to find ways to pursue your spouse. Sometimes it is as easy as “renewing the old”. You already have tools in your toolbox to create excitement in your relationship. Do you remember when you first looked at your wife-to-be? What lengths were you willing to go to make her yours? You found ways to make even the small moments special and meaningful. What was your beginning battle plan to win her heart? You, like me, may have done silly things like writing notes and planning surprises that you never thought you would do because seeing her smile made all the planning and effort worth it. There are so many ways that I pursued my wife back then and now as I look back I wonder how I was so creative.
As you consider your marriage relationship today, take time to consider happy moments of the past. Remind yourself of the power that words of encouragement and acts of love hold in your relationship. A little intentionality can go a long way. Pray with and for her daily, watch basketball together or decide to turn the screens off. Remember to take some time out of your busy schedule to share quality time with her. Christ continuously pursues us and His love will never let us go. Take Jesus’ example and actively pursue your spouse. Remember the small things that you did once upon a time, renew your passion, and do whatever it takes to win her heart.
CREATE THE NEW
Today is a new day; you and your spouse can choose to break the old patterns that seem to haunt your relationship. Old patterns can take many forms within a marriage. For example, pre-conversations can escalate your emotional state. So many times we replay the same conversation in our heads and start out with hard hearts before even one word is spoken.
Don’t give in to selfish desires, stand your ground and choose to love freely and unconditionally. C.S. Lewis eloquently states in Mere Christianity that, “Love-is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself.”
Loving is not always an easy task! It is not for the weak or those who quickly give up the fight. Love your wife with boldness and fervently fight for your marriage. Men, we are called to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5). Join the fight, make your battle plan, and commit to love your wife in both old and new ways. Take a walk down memory lane, do something silly, and watch her smile. Cherish the past while discovering the future together.
To see more from Peace Magazine read our Easter 2016 digital issue