Let’s face it, “happily ever after” is no guarantee for anyone who has “just married.”
Perhaps you have heard about the Thirty Day Husband Encouragement Challenge that is popular in Christian circles these days. It challenges wives to refrain from saying anything negative to or about their husbands for thirty days. Moreover, it challenges wives to voice something positive to their husbands every day, for thirty days.
Reportedly, this model does help married couples to prioritize their relationship as man and wife, and in some cases, has saved marriages on the brink of separation. But for me, after engaging in this challenge myself and using some of these strategies to ramp up my own marriage, other “challenges” got in the way, and, well, I soon saw working to improve my relationship with my husband as just another item on my never ending to-do list — sound familiar?
I recently celebrated six years of marriage, just shy of the infamous Seven Year Itch, the time when happiness and satisfaction in many relationships markedly decline. When I was first married and heard that many couples separate or even divorce around the seven year mark, I wondered why — it just didn’t seem to me that a marriage could sour in such a short period of time — assuming that after only seven years, I would still feel like I was my honeymoon. Yeah, not likely, as I am much more realistic than that about life, including marriage. Yes, marriage is about love and happiness, but not many years ago, it was more about my future plans and finding the right man to assist me in fulfilling those plans. That sounds oh, so romantic, doesn’t it?
My marriage is “normal” in many ways; we have issues, too, but the most testing issues for us are a bit atypical. Many couples argue about money or child rearing, or perhaps both, but most of our arguments stem from feeling unappreciated or undervalued by the other. Without a doubt, we love each other deeply; my husband really is my best friend and challenges me to be a better person each day either directly or indirectly, but still . . .
A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2
Fundamentally, we are very similar, but on the surface, I sometimes think Trump and Obama have more in common! Admittedly, I exaggerate a wee bit, but the point is that although we differ in our approach to many things, since God is central to us both, we usually arrive at the same destination, albeit we choose different paths.
Currently, while preparing a week long trip together to celebrate our anniversary, I find myself in contemplation about how do we avoid that Seven Year Itch? While too many of our friends’ marriages are plagued with constant conflict and discord, some leading to separation, and even worse — divorce, ours is going along pretty smoothly; ours seems to be okay. Frankly, I do not like the word, “okay.” My husband knows that anytime I respond, “okay,” there is something else going on underneath the surface. To me it denotes resignation, a lack of conviction or opinion, and I have never been one without an opinion.
Is your marriage just “okay”? What is keeping it from being good or even great? Often the answer is found in our priorities. Although we readily claim that our marriage comes first, things that strengthen and solidify it are tossed aside when something “better” comes up. Or for me, I feel that other things are more important, needing my immediate attention. My husband is a grown man, so he will survive without me for a while. Uhh. . . that’s NOT the point.
Many verses in the Bible refer to our hearts in conjunction with our treasure, the things we really value. For you, is your treasure your job? Your kids? Maybe it’s just “me time”? I get it. You have a lot of balls to juggle. Let me tell you something’, if you drop that marriage ball, then don’t be surprised when other things you consider to be important fall as well — fall down, fall away — just fall.
Take a good look at where you are spending your time. Who gets the best part of you? Evaluate where your marriage ranks among your priorities. If it is not just behind your relationship with God, it’s time for a marriage makeover.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” Matthew 6:21 NLT