I was sorry to hear it but, like so many marriages, they were just getting by. Life can turn into a grind, even for a great marriage. Our fast-paced lives are perfectly capable of edging out every good intention we used to have. Then we find ourselves months (years for many) down the road having survived, but also having missed the reason we thought we were doing all those things in the first place: to love each other and have a wonderful life together.
It may sound like a cliché but it isn’t: Lisa is my best friend. We have a lot of fun together but no couple falls in a hole backwards and discovers they have a great marriage.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote an excellent book entitled, Outliers, in which he describes the secret to the success of “gifted” people. What he learned goes something like this: They’re not really gifted. They just work at it.
And that applies directly to marriage.
A happy marriage may look effortless but that’s because you’re looking at the snapshot instead of the feature-length movie. Every close couple has made their relationship a priority over time. There are no exceptions. If you desire to become closer to your spouse – to grow in friendship – you have to cultivate it. It won’t happen by itself, especially in this busy life.
Here are some suggestions to help you regain your focus on friendship with the person you love.
1) Remind yourself of your true priority: Each other! It’s basic, but it’s vital. You don’t work for your schedule. It works for the two of you.
2) Carve out some time every day – even if it’s only 15 minutes, more preferably – where it’s just the two of you, one-on-one, connecting. Sometimes Lisa and I just walk down the driveway a few times, holding hands. (always hold hands!)
3) Open your mouth and say it: I really like you. Okay, so you’re not feeling that way right now but, that’s because of what you are focusing on. Change your focus. Think of something about your spouse you do like and appreciate and comment on that. I’m no different than any one else. I need Lisa to communicate to me that she likes me and she needs to hear the same from me. It’s what happy couples do.
“Deep friendship is the result of accumulating lots of simple moments together that you both enjoy”
4) Regularly do something you both enjoy. Lisa and I go out to coffee and go for walks . . . it’s our “thing”. Sounds amazing, eh? Not really . . . for some, this is pretty bland stuff, but over the years you come to understand that deep friendship is the result of accumulating lots of simple moments together that you both enjoy.
5) Share your spiritual lives together. Did God reveal something to you in the Scriptures you read recently? Share it. Pray for each other . . . and tell each other you are praying and pray together. Like the shoe company says: Just Do It!
These things are basic and straightforward. Yet, so often we allow our busy lives to keep us from the very things that bring richness and fulfillment to our marriages. But that frenetic schedule isn’t even close to important compared to being good friends with the one you love. Do what happy couples do: Start (or restart) cultivating the friendship you desire to have with your spouse. Start right now!
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Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).