When the foundational elements are in tact, marital success boils down to making the relationship a priority. We must make a conscious effort every day to put the relationship first.
First means above every viable excuse. Run errands later. The laundry can wait. Leave work on time instead of two hours after everyone else has left. If you’re too tired to even think about sex, drink a Red Bull or some cofee or tea to pep up. Turn the television off. Put your laptop away. I know you want to Facebook or play Spider Solitaire, but those things can wait. Putting your marriage first requires a commitment to remove the distractions and follow through by giving your partner your full attention.
This is difficult in our culture. We are a fast-paced, results-driven society. We want everything done quickly and we want to reap the benefits before we even put in the work. Our brains are comfortable in multi-tasking mode; thus, shutting down our minds to everything else and focusing only on intimacy with our spouse can be difficult … but it is necessary.
I was at a restaurant and witnessed a couple out for a romantic dinner. They were dressed to the nines, ordered a nice bottle of wine and had the waiter take their picture. I don’t know the occasion, but they had obviously set this night apart as something special. Before their salad arrived, the husband had taken two phone calls. By the time the waiter brought the entree’ the husband had stepped outside twice and the phone call count was up to five. The sparkle that danced in wife’s eyes upon arriving at the restaurant had dwindled to a sporadic flicker of hope amid a lonely stare. Her shoulders drooped as each phone call he took sucked the romance from her.
Now I ask myself, was she gung ho to jump in the sack when they got home? Probably not.
Careers are important. Money is important. Doing well at your job is imperative to survival in our economy. But let me say this: unless you are a top surgeon, wherein someone will die if you do not answer your phone during a romantic, special dinner with your spouse, then DO NOT ANSWER YOUR PHONE! I am willing to bet that whatever business deal you have going down can wait until after dinner.
Intimacy in marriage is an active CHOICE. You choose to make your spouse feel important or you choose to make them feel insignificant. So many of us try to blame our careers or blame or responsiblities, but the truth is those are mere excuses to hide our own inability to prioritize our relationship.
When it comes to matters of the heart, we must make time to sow seeds and tenderly nourish the soil. You cannot expect growth in a garden you do not nurture. There are no fruits if there is no labor first.
“My husband knows I love him,” comes the voice of a forty year old woman, who makes-love with her husband once a week and openly confesses she would rather Facebook than talk to him. Relational satisfaction doesn’t come from merely loving each other. Love must be present but it must also be constantly built upon. Hearts tire. Minds change. Appearances wither. To keep the garden growing in spite of seasonal altercations, we must till the ground, pull the weeds, water, seed and nuture every day.