If you long to experience the kind of marital relationship that God envisioned from the start, you can begin by first taking an honest look at what’s captivating you right now in life. What or who has captured your imagination? What are you fascinated by these days? What is enamoring you and exciting you? And how does your spouse fit into that scene?
If you’re unsure how to answer these questions, let me give you a shortcut. The next time your spouse enters the room, pay attention to how you react. Do your eyes follow him across the room? Do you get up from where you’re sitting so she doesn’t have to come to you? Do you greet each other with a hug and a kiss—is there a little peck at least? Or do you barely look up from what you’re doing, mumble a “hey,” and wonder why you couldn’t have married someone who doesn’t breathe so loud.
Now, if your spouse just left to go to the restroom, the fanfare I describe might be a bit much. But when you’ve been separated for a block of several hours or an entire workday, wouldn’t a little intention serve you both well? Assess whether you’re interested in your husband. Assess whether you’re fascinated by your wife. Assess whether your spouse excites you any longer. Assess where you’re pointing your attention these days.
Next, once you’ve made your assessment, bring those honest findings to God. Before blaming your spouse for any distance you feel with them, talk about this distance with God. Before blaming your spouse for any distance you feel with God, work on bridging that gap yourself. The best marriages I know are made up of two people who are diligent to get their deepest needs met by their heavenly Father so that they don’t come to their spouse insecure, needy and filled with doubt. They work out those issues in quiet times of solo reflection and prayer, thus bringing fulfilled hearts and lives to their spouse. Renowned physician and marriage and family therapist Ed Wheat used to always say, “Anyone who believes that marriage is a 50/50 proposition is kidding themselves. The best marriages are always 100/100.”
So: Look to God for the contentment, fulfillment and peace that God, alone, can provide. And also: Don’t ask your spouse to be him.
On to our third point, which is this: Remember that you were made for covenant. Our God is a covenant God, which means that his followers are covenant people. The “I’m not cut out for marriage” claim that presently married ones make? Complete. Utter. Bunk.
Fourth, regardless where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or whom you’ve done it with, you simply must come around to believing that healing is yours to be had. Paul reminded the church of Corinth of this very truth: “He will keep you strong to the end,” he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:8, “so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.”
God can strengthen you.
God can strengthen your spouse.
God can strengthen your marriage.
God can strengthen your bond.
The weakening you’ve known can be reversed. God longs to keep you strong ’til the end. Thoughts can change. Attitudes can change. Brains can change. Habits can change. Cravings can change. Patterns can change. Everything can be changed.
Communication styles can improve. Sexual brokenness can be made whole. Financial mismanagement can be redeemed. Sorrows can be worked through. I’m telling you, everything can change in an instant, when God is given room to run.
Brady Boyd, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, is the senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books. This post was originally published on BradyBoyd.org.