Recently I’ve realized that I have gotten lazy in my marriage.
I used to stop whatever I was doing and meet my husband at the front door when he got home from work. I used to even put on make-up and a fresh shirt and comb my hair to greet him at the end of the day. I used to ask him if I could fix him something to drink. I used to begin a sentence with “Honey how would you feel about…” instead of “Honey you should…” I used to thank him for the specific things he does right instead of complaining about the things he’s left undone. I used to sweep the front walk because it matters to him (not to me).
But I’ve gotten lazy. Lazy with little compliments, lazy about appreciating him, lazy about affirming him for the ways I respect him, lazy in being considerate. I realize how much easier it is for me to treat a guest or an adult child with more thoughtfulness than my own husband.
After 44 years of marriage to a good man, I should do better. I do know better, but it’s the doing that trips me up. How easy it is to slide into a self centered mode that first considers how I’m being treated or what I need or what I feel like doing. It’s a subtle, albeit dangerous, trend. All around us we see marriages, yes Christian marriages, failing. Most don’t fail because of one climatic event. More often the unraveling of a marriage begins with little things–the loss of civility in speech–would I speak to my best friend the way I just did my husband? The loss of thoughtfulness. The loss of a servant’s heart–a heart that looks to the needs of my husband first. The loss of believing the best instead of assuming the negative about him.
I can find all kinds of excuses for my behavior but the reality is that in some ways I’ve just become lazy. I am not talking about big marital issues here, but more about the day in and day out ways in which we treat one another. I believe that if we treat each other with kindness in the little things we will be more able to respond with grace when we get hit with the big issues.
There’s a book on marriage that I really like, The Grace Filled Marriage, by Tim and Darcy Kimmel. Why do I like this particular book? Most of us read and give books on marriage to engaged couples or newlyweds or those in a crisis. But how many of us read books to strengthen our marriages at the 10-20-30 year mark?
Do we assume our marriage is OK and we can just float along? If we are not growing in our marriages we are on shaky ground.
Marriage is a lifetime of learning how to fit together. It takes work our entire married life, and we will never get it quite right this side of heaven because we are sinful people. But we can enjoy a steadily deepening love relationship our entire marriage.
Reading this book sensitized me to my own laziness. It did not make me feel bad. Instead it encouraged me, it challenged me and it reminded me of the gift I have in the imperfect man I married. I liked this book so much I gave it to all five of our kids. Each of them has passed the 10-year mark in their marriage. Every marriage needs some gentle reminders. This book has been one for me. I doubt the authors specifically intended this book for couples married several years. (And no, Tim and Darcy did not ask me to write this!) It has encouraged me and I hope it will encourage you and your friends.
Our natural tendency in marriage is to take each other for granted, to unintentionally neglect one another, to simply get lazy. So I’m saying to myself today, “Pick it up Susan. Appreciate that man. Think before you speak. Speak with kindness. Consider what you can do today to communicate love in a way that is meaningful to Him. And don’t look for a response from him. Just do it!”
Susan Yates has written thirteen books and has spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of marriage, parenting and women’s issues for many years. For 11 years she was a regular columnist on parenting for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Susan is the mother of five and has 21 grandchildren, including a set of quads. She is devoted to sharing her wisdom and experience with moms and wives and is selflessly available to those in need. Susan has been a mom for 40 years, she and John have been married for 43 years.