I grew up in a farm family. While I’d love to have a farm and some “country” land, I do not want to be a farmer. However, I’d never trade that life and the wonderful life lessons learned. Along these lines, we lived from month to month and often from year to year when the crops sold and we would then have to pay off debts and pay attention to things that had been “put on hold” such as vehicle maintenance and repair, home repairs, clothes (if there was money left over and there often wasn’t).
We learned a lot. One of the things I learned is that when you keep putting off things they don’t get better…they get worse. Just like your vehicle or home needs maintenance, your marriage needs to be maintained. Otherwise, you may find it’s not working anymore. Here are 5 things you need to pay attention to in your marriage.
#1 Cultivate and maintain laughter in your marriage.
Remember when you were dating and you found almost everything that each other did was funny…even when it wasn’t? This is as much a state of mind and intentional choice as it is actually finding someone’s “funny bone.” Don’t let this slip because a home full of laughter is great for your marriage…and your children!
What are you doing to keep fun and laughter in your marriage?
#2 Keep the home/work balance in proper priority.
Yes, there are seasons (and they need to be kept as seasons…not a lifestyle) when work requires your time away from your spouse, family, and home. If you don’t work to keep your marriage and spouse as the priority you’ll find that you’re more excited or even relieved to leave the house for the office. Take care to keep the home fires burning and your marriage the highest priority in your life after Christ.
Martin Luther said it this way, “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
What do you need to do to keep your marriage the priority it needs to be?
#3 Don’t allow media of any kind to be an escape from your marriage.
This is not an indictment of the media. My point is that you have to be careful and active to not let media and favorite forms of entertainment become a constant means of escape. There will be issues and problems in every marriage but avoiding them by simply checking out from your spouse and retreating to your favorite release is dangerous. Also, be careful not to let media and entertainment become your predominant way of relating in your marriage. Make time to engage in productive and intimate communication with your spouse.
How much time do you spend on media/entertainment, alone or as a couple? What can you do to increase your time together engaged in productive communication?
#4 Intentionally stay interested in your spouse.
This requires putting aside things that we may like or want to do (see 3 above) and paying attention to those things that your spouse finds interesting. This includes having conversations with intentional listening and observation.
What do you spend your time talking about with your spouse? What can you do to ensure that you are connected and know what he/she is interested in?
#5 Keep the home fires burning…stay interested sexually.
Just like everything else, if we lose focus we will lose interest. Your brain is your largest sex organ…use it to think about your spouse. Each person and couples’ needs in this area differ but the need to keep the sexual drive alive is imperative for every person and couple. Keep paying attention to your spouse, choose to pay attention to your spouse, and don’t let the sexual fires burn out.
What are you doing to keep physical intimacy in your marriage? What are you doing to make sure your spouse knows that you still desire him/her?
Don’t let any of these factors slip. Continue to maintain each of these by God’s grace so you are blessed in your marriage.
Brad Rhoads is co-founder of Grace Marriage.