Moving, a new job, sickness, long hours, and marriage tensions. What do all these have in common? They all can cause stress. Everywhere around us stress can feel like a thousand-pound weight pressing on our shoulders. We all have daily life responsibilities that can cause stress to occur in our marriage. Stress is real! When left unchecked, it can start to put a divider in your marriage that makes you feel more like roommates than marriage partners.
Seth and I recently moved 3 times in a span of 4 months due to some unforeseen issues. We also had toddlers who were needing more attention, longer hours that needed to be worked and life that still continued. So many nights when the twins went to bed, we went our separate ways and did our own activities. It wasn’t long until we realized we felt more like roommates than lovers. Has this ever happened to you? How can we not let the chasm of stress and daily routine divide us?
Matthew 6:34 is a common verse that many of us know. But, have you put it into practice: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Corrie ten Boom said it very well, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Worry and stress can go hand in hand. We worry because we don’t trust God. Ouch. We stress, because our priorities are misaligned.
Take a moment and think about what is causing stress in your marriage right now. Is God first in that area of your life? Honestly, is He? Think of a clock. If you open up a grandfather clock, you will see all the gears and moving parts. They all work off the center gear. If the center gear is misaligned or a smaller gear tries to take over, the clock will not work. When God is the true center of our life, our priorities align to what the Lord wants for us. When we stress, we can become self-focused and we can forget the goodness of the Lord around us. Don’t hear me wrong, stress happens! But how we respond to stress while trying to maintain a healthy marriage is something important to consider.
Let’s now look at it practically. There are seasons of life when we feel like we are roommates with our spouse. How can we change life up and still make meaningful time? Here are some ideas:
1. Schedule intimate time if you have a crazy busy schedule. Being intimate with your spouse connects you to each other, the way God designed intimacy to work. Don’t neglect the marriage bed during this season of your life. Even if you have to write it on your calendar, mark it in pen.
2. Date nights! Jeff Potts is the first to say how important dating your spouse is. Pinterest is full of in home date night ideas. Try Date Night Bingo! It fits every budget. https://www.thedatingdivas.com/date-ideas-date-night-bingo/ I get having kids and not having babysitters-make it an in-home date night.
3. Write out your calendar for the week/month together. You can both see what priorities have priority and which tasks you could do together to make the chores faster. Many hands make light work.
4. Turn off the TV. I’m the first one to be guilty of this. I love watching Hogan’s Hero’s with Seth when the twins go down, and then one episode turns into 3 and suddenly it’s time for bed. Read a book together, fiction or non-fiction. Play cribbage. Learn a new game that neither of you have played before. Bake brownies while one of you is blindfolded. The point is to get creative. It is so much easier to sit in front of the tv and sit next to your spouse (which you can still do, but don’t do it as the only time you spend time with each other), I’m guilty as charged. Take the time to spend the quality time with them, even if it’s for 20 minutes.
5. Hug each other! Give each other a 20 second kiss, set the timer if you have to. I guarantee it will seem like an eternity the first few times, but it will get some great laughs and lead to both of you being a bit more connected.
Life demands our attention at every corner we turn. How can you continue to keep your marriage Christ centered as the pressures of the world press on you? I challenge you to stay on your knees before the Lord during stressful peaks in your marriage and life. Only He is our constant. He is the I AM, who was and is and always will be (Revelation 1:8). He is the same God who guided Esther to boldly stand before the King, gave courage to Moses to meet with Pharaoh, and knows your every burden and struggle. Go before the Lord and ask Him to keep Him center in your marriage and to help keep your priorities honorably aligned.