In my last post I discussed my/our tendency to say YES to others when we are not whole-hearted about it.
We say YES to good things like volunteering or serving, YES to more things at work, YES to our family and YES to the thousands of other needs in our lives.
And my concern is that we need to manage our YES (or at least I need to manage my YES’s) better. Why is that?
Because, in reality, we are finite. Limited by time. Limited by our energy levels. Limited by our human condition. Limited in so many ways, but yet filled with so many crazy expectations.
What is it about us human beings anyway?
We have this ability to assume they we are god-like. Able to meet every need, climb every mountain, handle every emotion, solve every problem, provide care to everyone around us.
This reminds me of the Adam/Eve event back in the garden of Eden. One of the offers that came from the tempter was this. “You will be like God…” And to this day we, the children of Adam & Eve continue to act like we have god-like powers.
So, because we are human and finite, we must make choices. Choices in what we will do and what we won’t. Choices to spend time and energy. Choices to conserve them.
That’s the power of our YES and NO. You could even say that they are our superpowers, in a way. Those humans that use these superpowers wisely are rewarded. The majority of humans, however, do not. And we pay the price in our relationship with God, our spouse and others.
Our marriage matters, but our inability to use these superpowers is a constant threat to our marriage. Remember:
- Your marriage is the most important human relationship you have.
- Your marriage intimacy affects everything!
- Marriage takes constant effort. There is no autopilot mode.
- Your marriage relationship is never stable. It is always moving.
- Both of you need to be satisfied with your marriage relationship.
- We are all prone to wander. To chase shiny things. To get distracted. Squirrel?
Hmmm. I think we should be married for a couple of years, then get busy, maybe drift apart and then let’s spend thousands of dollars and have a messy divorce.
None of us sign up for marriage with this thought to the right. But thousands of couples are experiencing this right now. Why? Maybe because they got busy. Said YES too often. Took their eyes off the ball and it diminished their heart and sabotaged their marriage.
In marriage, we often refuse to say NO to good things and in the process we sacrifice the best things.
It is ironic. We can say YES and YES and YES thinking we are doing the best thing, but ultimately destroying the real things in life that matter. Here’s a common progression I see in marriages we work with.
- Couples get busy, mostly doing good things for good reasons
- We focus our time less on our spouse since we only have so much to give
- We become more independent in our marriage rather than interdependent
- We live separate lives that occasionally connect
- We feel disconnected and isolated but it is a faint signal in the noise of life
- We move to becoming roommates rather than lovers
- We make excuses for the growing distance and blame our spouse
- We devalue one another outwardly since we value something else more
- Worse things happen and the relationship moves toward life-support
We have all seen this happen to others and we know the pain that it brings. So, if this is a problem for almost every couple on the planet, then what can we do to stay in love? How do we maintain intimacy in our marriage? Here are checkup questions.
First. Get alone. Sit quietly. Sip coffee. Talk about it.
- How would we rate our intimacy 1-10? (Emotions rise here)
- How is our relationship being affected by MY current YES choices? (No pointing!)
- Who is being negatively affected the most? (Defensiveness arises)
- Where are we investing our lives? How much? (Usually we argue here)
- Why are we saying YES, so much? (Don’t deny and hide)
- How are we both contributing to this? (It’s not me, so it must be you)
- What is of the greatest value? Is it our relationship, our self-worth, others needs?
- Where are we going in our relationship? If we continue like this, what will be the cost?
- Who can we talk with about this to get clarity? (Now we are focusing on Us! Yeah!)
You probably need other couples to help you walk through this!
I don’t think Lou Ann and I could guard our marriage without others speaking into our lives. Because if you are normal, this is a constant struggle to say NO and YES appropriately. God knows this.
We drift away in our relationship with Him too. We are so busy doing good things (for Him and ourselves and others) that we don’t have time with Him. If you are up to it, try applying some of these questions to your relationship with God. It will get you thinking about how relational vs. transactional you are with God.
As you work to build intimacy remember that your marriage relationship is worth fighting for!
Mark 8:36 Mark 10:9 Psalm 39:4-7
Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself; not what’s leftover after you have given your best to everyone else. Dave Willis
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. Aristotle
He who cannot rest, cannot work; he who cannot let go, cannot hold on; he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward. Harry Emerson Fosdick
Busyness is not a spiritual gift. Unknown