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Monday, January 23, 2012
That means it is either growing or dying.
There is no healthy dormant state in marriage; no acceptable status-quo. If you think you are just coasting and that everything is good enough, you are deceiving yourself. If you think it’s all OK, it’s probably not.
That may sound harsh, but I believe it’s the truth.
I think settling for OK is one of the most dangerous threats to marriages across the board – more than affairs, financial arguments or porn. That’s a pretty bold claim, I know. I believe it is so because it is that kind of complacent attitude that puts marriages on a path to so many of the other things that ultimately end up getting blamed for divorce.
Choose Your Path
You see, you and your spouse are either on the path of intimacy or on the path of separation. There is no middle ground, at least not for long.
Why do so many couples seem to wake up one day suddenly asking themselves questions like: “where has the passion gone?” or “why does he always treat me like that?” or “why doesn’t she trust me?” or “why does he leave everything to me?” or “does she always have to be such a nag?” or “isn’t she attracted to me any more?” Maybe these are similar to questions that you’ve been asking.
For many the path that ends in these questions is a subtle one. You can be on the path of separation for months or even years, all the while thinking that everything is OK enough, before you suddenly realize where you are: in a marriage that lacks the passion, intimacy and trust you want; maybe even the kind you once had.
The path of separation is an easy road. In some ways it’s nature’s course. That’s why it’s so easy to end up there if you simply settle for an OK marriage. This path is both divergent and accelerating – the longer you are on it the further apart you grow and the faster you grow apart.
By contrast, the path of intimacy is one that requires a daily choice; actually lots of daily choices.
The Path of Intimacy
The first choice is to believe that there is more in store for your marriage than what you enjoy today and that marital degeneration is not inevitable. You have to believe that OK is not good enough, that having a great marriage is not only possible, but within your reach.
Then you need to do something about it. To keep your marriage on the path of intimacy there are also a few helpful navigational instruments: watchfulness, transparency and accountability. These three interrelated tools are like a GPS for your marriage.
I’m going to do a post on each in the coming days, but for now here is a quick look at them:
- Watchfulness fights against our natural human tendency to put ourselves on autopilot, devoid of passion and purpose. It means keeping your spirit, soul and body wide awake to all that is going on in and around you.
- Transparency is learning to be “naked without shame.” It’s the compliment of watchfulness in that it means purposefully allowing yourself to be seen for who you really are, to open yourself up to your spouse to be “watched.”
- Accountability includes being accountable to God, to yourself and to each other, but also means including other strong couples in your circle of friends.
I’m asking you not to settle for OK and to do whatever it takes to get or keep your marriage on the path of intimacy.
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