In our current culture, marriage is scoffed at rather than held in honor. Busyness and distraction are two of the primary culprits. You need to fight for your marriage.
When people see fun and life in a relationship, they assume the couple can’t be married. Let me tell you what your busyness and distraction are doing to your marriage.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all…“ —Hebrews 13:4
How to fight for your marriage
Here is an example that is all too common: A middle-aged couple is out to eat at a restaurant. They are talking, laughing, and making eye contact. It is obvious that they are enjoying one another’s company. The waiter asks the couple, “Are you dating?” The couple responds, “No.” The waiter then asks, “Are you having an affair?” The couple answers, “No, we are married!”
While dating before marriage, we feel like we hit the relational, power-ball jackpot. Then, once we are married, we feel like our relationship has about as much excitement as an all-day swim meet. Sorry, swim meet enthusiasts, but sitting in a hot, humid room on a metal bench waiting to watch my daughter swim for two minutes just doesn’t do it for me.
In dating, couples have trouble keeping their hands off one another. In marriage, couples have trouble putting their hands on one another. As the marriage progresses, the transition is made from excited lovers to tired co-laborers. Life and financial pressures can squeeze out the fun and life-giving excitement in marriage. We are so tired at the end of the day that the bed seems much more attractive than our spouse.
How do we inject life into our marriages? How do we flip the norm so that waiter in the earlier story assumes the couple is married? How do we hold our marriages in honor and encourage others to do the same? We can start by rebelling against the world’s patterns of busyness and distraction.
Most couples are so busy that they don’t have time for one another. They say their marriage is their most important horizontal relationship in the world, but they laugh at the thought of signing up for Grace Marriage or having a weekly date night because “We don’t have time.”
Instead of trying to find time for your marriage, make time for your marriage. Give your spouse “off the top time.” At the beginning of each week schedule three to five hours of undistracted one-on-one time for you and your spouse.
As we say at Grace Marriage, “Schedule your life around your marriage. Don’t schedule your marriage around your life.” Commit to making this a non-negotiable rhythm for your life and schedule.
If it doesn’t make an immediate impact on your marriage, don’t stop. Going to the gym once won’t make an immediate impact on your health. It can take time to see results, but that only makes them more impactful.
It is likely that the more time you start spending together, the more time you’ll start wanting to spend time together.
The pattern of this world is shallow and distracted living, not deep and satisfying relationship. People are addicted to their phones. It is our reality. I don’t think anyone would question the statement, “Smartphones are the biggest distraction to life and relationships in the 21st century.”
When I practiced law, a judge got so frustrated when a cell phone went off in his courtroom that he had a lawyer detained in a holding cell. Recently, I saw a teenager texting while riding a bike down a busy street. In fact, a USA Today article notes that 26 percent of car accidents are linked to cell phone usage.
Control your cell phone—don’t let it control you. Turn off notifications. Take email off the phone. Put your phone away when you are with your spouse or family. Stay off the cell phone in the car. Get rid of all unnecessary apps. Have periods of time each day where the phone is not accessible to you.
Whether you are in the bathroom, in the car, on a date, or in line at a store, use the time to enjoy others or pray, not as a chance to text, snap, scroll, or search.
Unfortunately, distraction, recklessness, and thoughtlessness have become an accepted norm. My mentor once told me, “Let me simplify living out the Gospel. Love the person in front of you and love them well.” We can’t do this in a dominated and distracted state.
Take undistracted time each day to focus on your spouse. Your spouse desires and deserves your undivided attention. It isn’t easy to turn off and tune out the distractions, but it is always worth it. Your relationship will begin to thrive when you allow your spouse to become more important than your phone or any other distraction in your life.
Fight busyness and distraction and help marriage be held in honor among all. Establish patterns of grace, investment, and intentionality. That’s the right way to fight for your marriage.
Brad Rhoads is co-founder of Grace Marriage.