A young wife, who was married for just four months, said with tears in her eyes, “I feel so lonely in my marriage.” It is sad to hear such comments from many young spouses. So, what exactly is going wrong between today’s young couples? The most common problems that occur are dryness and drifting. Let me explain it further.
A human being might go dry in two areas of his life—dry up physically and dry up spiritually. A marriage becomes dry when there is no replenishment and refreshment for it. The relationship feels empty, dry and wanting. Physical dryness is easy to identify; but, by the time the spouses realize that they are going through marital dryness, considerable damage has already been done.
Dryness leads to a driftage. Look at pews in your churches; what’s happening in the lives of your friends, colleagues, cousins and neighbours? Would you be able to guess that a majority of these people have marriages that are in trouble? Probably not. Neither would they. ‘Drifting’ is quiet, subtle and non-offensive and you will not hear any alarm bell; the damage is done step by step in a marriage as one starts moving farther and farther away from the spouse.
Since we fail to see it, we get an impression that all is well with us. Our hectic schedules, selfish motives, the demand of daily living and lifestyle, all these culprits contribute to keeping us busy and we fail to see the absence of real caring. Sometimes the absence of emotional pain is believed or assumed to be a sign that everything is fine with a marriage. We develop a pattern and get accustomed to the way things are.
How can we avoid such a situation? Here are 10 ‘C’s to keep your marriage alive and fresh:
Communication is crucial to understand each other. Genesis 4:1 says, “Adam knew his wife Eve and she became pregnant…” Knew here means that he had total understanding of his wife—social, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. So spend quality time and not quantity time. You can sleep for eight hours with your spouse, but that is not the criterion. Speak to her/him in a way that touches their heart. Learn the art of listening (James 1:19). Meaningful words build up the relationship—positive words, passionate words and plentiful words (Proverbs 15:4; 18:21; Colossians 4:6) Crave to be back home with your spouse rather than spending time with others. God has gifted you as his/her companion (Genesis 2:18). Drive dryness away through good communication.
Complement each other. Appreciate your spouse in every small thing. Be the support and strength in your spouse’s weakness. Have you thanked your wife for cooking meals for you and appreciate her for the work at home? Don’t think that it is her duty for her family. Men also need appreciation and admiration. Thank them for the small jobs they do at home. Small courtesies keep marriage alive. You got to be the sole admirer of your spouse. Be your spouse’s fan and cheerleader.
Sometimes the absence of emotional pain is believed or assumed to be a sign that everything is fine with a marriage. We develop a pattern and get accustomed to the way things are
Cultivate the habit of serving each other in the way your spouse loves to be served. Learn from Jesus’ leadership.
Celebrate your marriage daily with fun, small surprises and gifts. A rose for your wife when you come back home will trigger her passion for you. Wives, make a special meal for him. Have time out regularly. Visit the places which you did when you were newly married to kindle your romance. We would suggest you to have time out at least once a month, even without the children. Become your partner’s recreational partner. Play and exercise together to keep fit. Be creative in celebrating your marriage.
Conquer your spouse’s heart by being a good lover. Sexual intimacy is a gift from God. Know your spouse’s sexual needs (Genesis 4:1). In 1 Corinthians 7:2–5 (KJV), Paul uses the word ‘benevolence’ which means ‘a gift that blesses’. The husband and the wife have to bless each other with their body. It is a command from God to bless your spouse even with your body. It is a way of communicating your love for your spouse physically. Researchers’ found out that couples (married) who make love thrice a week look ten years younger than couples who make love twice a week. Intimacy binds, heals and keeps romance alive.
Cling to values like respect, honour and praise, which are rare in this world. Do not put down your spouse in front of others—your parents, siblings, relatives, friends or spiritual leaders. Not even jokingly—dryness and drifting away starts here. Respect and honour each other even when you are alone with your spouse. Remember everyone is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Conflict should be resolved then and there. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin”. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26–28). Build a bridge and not a wall between yourself. Let forgiveness be your lifestyle. Let go of ego. Be the first one to say sorry.
Cut (leave) all the habits, hobbies, ties that annoy your spouse—friends, spiritual leaders, media/gadgets, and this includes parents also if they are interfering between you and your spouse. Your personal goal—such as a business plan or a career ambition can cause a rift in your marriage. Some spiritual leaders can be notoriously dangerous for their own selfish gains. Set a boundary for everything.
Commit to love your spouse unconditionally as Jesus Christ loved His church. Do not withhold love from him or her. Withholding love is an emotional divorce. To love is a command from God (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33; 1 Peter 3:7; Colossians. 3:9; Titus 2:4). Be a comforter and counsellor to your spouse in time of need. Be considerate and patient with each other.
Centre everything around Christ in your marriage. With Jesus Christ in our marriage vessel, we can smile at the storm. People spend so much time, effort, money and emotions on their wedding day. Marriage is not a one-day affair. Wedding is a day’s event whereas marriage is a lifelong covenantal commitment and day-to-day work. So, pray together, play together and plan together to keep dryness away. Continue to water and nurture your marriage with these ten ‘C’s.
Carry on loving your spouse.