Avoiding the Crash: What to Do When Marriage Gets Tricky

/ The Weekly

By Doug Fields, Youth Pastor and Co-Author of Getting Ready for Marriage: A Practical Road Map for Your Journey Together

Several years ago, a big-city commuter train crashed, killing several people and seriously injuring hundreds more. The train was traveling too fast in a location that required it to go slow. When investigators looked into the accident, they made three observations that should have prevented the devastation: 

  1. A comparable crash had already taken place in a similar location and the lessons it offered were ignored. 
  2. The warning lights that informed the conductor to slow down were working, but the driver didn’t give it the proper attention. 
  3. The conductor was apparently distracted by his phone. 

Sadly, this crash didn’t have to happen. It’s really not all that different from what we experience when we see a marriage crash. Too often couples… 

  1. Don’t take the time to learn from their past mistakes.
  2. Ignore the warning lights that their marriage is in danger. 
  3. Are distracted by “other priorities” that keep them from giving needed attention to their marriage. 

All marriages experience seasons where the relationship gets tricky. No couple is immune from times of tension and conflict. But you can learn to recognize the warning lights and make tough choices that will keep your marriage on a healthy course, headed toward your intended destination. You’ll have to choose to say “no” to important options so you can say “yes” to what’s most important. If you have no time for your marriage, you must move to crisis mode and make immediate course corrections. You can’t just make more time for your marriage. As fun as it would be, making time is impossible. All married couples, regardless of income, region, religion, upbringing, and personality, all have the same amount of time: 1,440 minutes a day. You have the amazing ability to choose how those precious and fleeting minutes are spent. It’s both a privilege and a burden. If you don’t learn how to use those minutes to breathe life into your marriage, your relationship may run off the rails. 

For you to experience a long-term marriage filled with refreshing time margins and a deep intimacy, you have to seek to understand the cause of your busyness as well as the consequences. It’s easy to simply cast blame on busyness without looking within your own heart to see why you actually might be so busy. In an attempt to help me escape busyness, I’ve identified three questions I regularly ask: 

  • Is my pace of life really sustainable over a long period of time?
  • Do I like the person I am becoming as a result of my pace? 
  • Am I giving my wife, Cathy, and my family my best self during this season? 

When I’m busy, the answer to these questions is always no, no, and no! While I’m often tempted to move to a deserted island to escape everything, I’m fully aware that a quick-fix is not a good solution. The long-term answer always points back to me noticing the warning lights of busyness, learning from my past mistakes, and making choices that will result in a better, stronger, and healthier Doug. 

When I look back at some of my previous bouts with busyness, I can see that I wasn’t willing to make the difficult decisions to unclutter my life so that I would have more time for my primary relationships. The warning lights were working; I just didn’t give them the attention they deserved. 

Here’s one intentional choice you can make to avoid a crash: Start with giving your spouse just one percent of your day. One percent of your time each day is only fourteen minutes and forty seconds, so let’s round up and make it fifteen minutes. That’s fifteen minutes of face-to-face, knee-to-knee connection. This means turning off the television, shutting down the computer, and putting your phone away.. These few minutes, set aside every day, will make a big difference over the course of weeks, months, years, and decades. Your marriage can become rock solid if you’d slow things down, block noise out, and commit to a daily time together. Most of us pack too much into those 1,440 minutes, and it leaves us hurried, stressed, and lacking intimacy with our spouse. Let’s change that! Fifteen minutes isn’t much, and we know you can do this!

At Mariners, we value and champion marriages. That’s why we’re committed to supporting couples in their life-long journey together. Whether you’re seriously dating, engaged, or have been married for 3 years or 33 years, you won’t want to miss Marriage Matters with Doug Fields! Join us on Aug 14 at the 5:30p Saturday Service at Mariners Irvine, and stay for an amazing evening connecting with other couples. We’ll feed you dinner, have some serious fun, and equip you with practical tools to strengthen your relationship. 

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