I met a married couple the other day who acted just plain fake.
They smiled courteously and maintained a cordial conversation with me. They held hands loosely and talked about their weekend plans. Like most couples, they seemed….okay. And like most couples, they would probably report that their marriage was in a good place.
Deep down, however, they know that’s just not true.
A regular honest assessment about the state of the relationship can keep it moving forward. Many marriages enter seasons of relational stagnation, and unless the couple recognizes the signposts of the status quo, they will likely fall into a pattern of fake smiles, distant hearts, and unfulfilled dreams.
Signpost #1: Things are “Fine”
Fine. It’s a nasty word that really doesn’t mean anything. God did not design marriage as the quintessential representation of His image on earth to be fine. When He created men and women as His image bearers on earth, He brought them together in a uniquely beautiful relationship designed to turn our eyes towards Him. Yet we are tempted to settle for whatever goodness we can get. Many couples settle for “fine.” There is so much more.
Signpost #2: Disengagement
At the core of relationship is engagement — a commitment to be attentive to and involved in one another’s lives. This includes their interests, their work, their fears, their dreams and the parts of life that are important. Disengagement, then, is the opposite. When a couple is going in separate directions without an attentiveness to the other, they are in trouble.
A classic example of this disengagement can be found in this short clip from the movie, The Incredibles:
Signpost #3: Bus Schedule Communication
How much time do you spend actually talking with your spouse? Far too often, the busyness of life, work schedules, children’s needs, and the many urgencies that dictate our lives become the main content of communication between couples. This is commonly called “bus schedule communication.”
It sounds like this:
- “Johnny needs to get to soccer practice by 5:30. If you can pick up some milk and eggs on the way home, I can get him there.”
- “The dog needs his food and medication. I’ll be late tonight.”
- “Can you help me get the yard ready for winter?”
- “The kids have parent-teacher conferences tomorrow afternoon. You’re going to make it, right?”
Relationship-building conversation must involve personal and emotional connection.
Signpost #4: Smoke not Fire
At the beginning of most every marriage, the romance and intimacy burn hot. The newly married couple are excited to be together, to be romantic, to flirt and play. But as time goes on, untended fires slowly die. What was once fire has turned to smoke.
While the relationship may be “warm,” if you don’t find that special kind of romantic playfulness between you like it once was, your marriage isn’t where it should be. You’ve heard it before…you may love your spouse, but if you don’t like him/her, then something is amiss.
Follow the Signs
If one or more of these signposts are true for you, consider reading one of our suggested marriage books, coming in for a “marriage check-up,” and having a heart-to-heart conversation about your marriage hopes with your spouse. Click here to contact us now.
What do you think are the biggest barriers to healthy, growing marriages? Please leave your comments and questions in the comments section below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
CHRIS BRUNO: Together with my wife and our three rambunctious children, we find ways to get outdoors as often as possible. When not on the trail, I can often be found with a book and either a cup of dark roasted coffee or a good microbrew. For more about me, CLICK HERE.