In Part 1 of this mini-series, I talked about how incredibly easy – and disastrous – it is to stop dating your spouse. Then, we spent some time looking at the obstacles in our way so we can deal with them with both honesty and hope.
This time, we talk about how you can overcome those obstacles so you can move toward (and even beyond) the intimacy that you enjoyed before.
Your Plan For Moving Forward
If you’re convinced that you need more consistent, quality and uninterrupted time with your spouse – despite all the (very real) obstacles – what can you actually do about it?
- Talk to God about it first. Ask him for forgiveness if you need to. Admit that you’ve drifted into feeling cold toward your spouse, given too much time to work, or (fill-in-the-blank) if that’s where you are. Beg him for another sitter or creative ideas. And ask him for courage and grace to talk to your spouse.
- Talk to your spouse. If you need to have an honest conversation with your spouse about making a change, do it. Depending on where your relationship is, it may be just a quick ‘hey, I miss getting out alone with you, let’s do something about it’. Or, if your marriage is in an icier place, you may need to talk about counseling or at least addressing the growing coldness between you. For smaller, practical changes to work long-term, having these deeper, honest conversations with the Lord and our spouses are absolutely essential.
- Identify the obstacles. Think about what’s holding you back. Is a sitter? Not enough money? Don’t know what you’d talk about anyway? Working too much? Make a list of anything and everything that’s getting in the way. Ask your spouse, too.
- Prioritize the obstacles. Unless you enjoy cycling between deep depression and laughing like a hyena, you can’t tackle everything at once. My suggestion is to begin by picking one deeper obstacle and a more practical one. For example, my wife and I have been much busier recently, which has made regular time together hard. I need to ask what that may be saying about our hearts. (Are we finding our value in helping others? Are we afraid of disappointing them by saying ‘no’?) But, we also need to find another sitter.
- Make a small beginning. Now that you know what’s most in the way, just take a small step forward. You don’t need a Master Plan. If there are more systemic issues, it might be agreeing that you need outside help and calling a counselor by the end of the week. Or, if you just don’t have much time and money, it might be blocking out next Thursday night and renting something on Netflix.
- Ask a friend for help. If you struggle with follow through, invite a trusted friend to pray for you and check in. ‘Hey, I really want to spend more time with my wife, but I’m having a hard time actually doing it. I want to plan something for us in the next two weeks. Will you pray and shoot me a text in a week or so to see how it’s going?’
This is just a starting point. You may want to tweak this in a way that better fits you (ideas welcome).
A Marriage Promise
God has given you everything you need to move forward. Your marriage was his idea, and he’s for you.
We’ve all seen Jeremiah 29:11 before, but sometimes I wonder if we’ve become inoculated by its familiarity. God wants it to infuse real, living hope into our entire lives, including our marriages:
‘For I know the plans I have for [your marriage],’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give [your marriage] a future and a hope’.
In the actual passage, ‘you’ stands in place of ‘your marriage’. God is telling his people that he means to fill their entire lives with his goodness and hope, even though they were in exile at the time. Their marriages were included in this promise of hope.
Will we take God at his word for our own marriage?
With God’s help, the best days of your marriage lie ahead of you. Let’s take a step back, see what’s in the way, and move forward with his help.
What are the biggest deeper, and practical, obstacles standing in the way of getting quality, uninterrupted time with your spouse? What one step would help you most move forward toward that goal?