By Jay Dee, Contributing Writer
Often people will come to my blog and comment that their marriage great except sex, or their husband is great, except he’s selfish in bed, or their wife is an amazing wife and mother…except she won’t be naked in front of them. And usually, it ends up being the case that this “one thing” is not their only issue. That’s one of the reasons I like writing about sex within marriage, because it’s a great proxy for the rest of the marriage. It’s like a barometer for how the marriage is going. Because, generally, people can’t have a great sex life without having a good, stable, healthy marriage. By contrast, if they aren’t having sex, almost universally, there is something significantly wrong in the marriage (and it’s not about the sex).
Sex also works as an implement of change in many cases. I’ve heard from many couples, and seen it in my marriage as well, that a 7 days of sex challenge suddenly promotes other changes in their marriage. All of a sudden, the entire thing takes on a new life. Many wives are shocked to find out that once they start having more frequent sex, their husbands turn into the husbands they were holding out for all along. It doesn’t always happen, but it does with surprising regularity.
Your marriage is one big connected thing
Now, most people know of the stereotype that women’s brains have everything connected, and men like to compartmentalize, and typically I think this follows through, but for some reason, marriage gets compartmentalized often by both genders in the same way. Ask someone how their marriage is, if they are honest, they’ll usually say something like “It’s really good…except this one thing.” Is it really good? Probably not. I’m willing to bet that “one thing” is polluting the rest of the marriage. Let’s quickly take a look at a few that I’ve seen, but by no means is this an exhaustive list.
This is first on my list, because this was a huge issue in our marriage. It took us nearly a decade to figure out how to manage money. We’re not out of the hole yet, but at least we’re filling it in instead of still digging down. You know what? I had no idea what kind of impact this had on our marriage as a whole until we started attacking it and forcing improvements. Living paycheck to paycheck is exhausting, and worrying, and stressful and it reaches far into other areas of your life. Your health can be affected, your sex life can be effected. You can begin to blame each other for the problems, or you get jealous whenever your spouse spends a dollar. If you are having finance problems, please, get help. The best book I’ve read on this subject, is Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. It’s been around for a long time, and most of the books, tools and programs designed to help with finances seem to be based on it’s simple system. It’s worth the small investment.
I know a few marriages where one spouse is a non-Christian, or they still claim to be, but you don’t see it reflected in their life, and they don’t want to talk about any of the “God stuff”. This is an incredible strain on a marriage, when you cannot share, what should be the focus and ultimate goal in your life with the person you want to share that life with. I couldn’t imagine. This can cause daily damage to the relationship. This is why every time my sisters brought a guy home, the first question I asked was “what does he believe?” Theological differences have started fights, battles and wars between nations, peoples and civilizations. Is there any doubt what it will do to a marriage? If you have this issue, talk to your pastor about it. Learn how to model Christ effectively. Don’t nag, don’t bully. Pray and model Jesus.
Children & Extended Family
Sometimes children can be difficult, and a source of strife in a marriage. All too often we see spouses choosing sides in it, or causing further division in how they want to deal with the children. Your spouse is your first responsibility. One day the children will be grown and gone. Figure out your priorities. Make the marriage a stronghold, then tackle the issue of the children together, as one unified body. Same goes for extended family. Don’t let them drive a wedge between you. Don’t choose sides, but rather choose each other.
Work & Ministry
We are called to work, particularly men. It is one of the first commandments in the Bible, we were designed to be productive, each in our own way. But that productivity can sometimes turn destructive. If work is detracting from your marriage, if it is damaging it by taking you away from them too often or for too long, maybe see if there is another way to support your family while still keeping your family. We have too many marriages that end in divorce, or in spouses just not knowing each enough to love anymore because one spouse, or both are more focused on work than on their marriage. Same holds true for ministry as well, don’t think that just because you are working for God, you can ignore your responsibilities.
So the next time someone asks about your marriage, or your thinking about how your marriage is, if you catch yourself thinking “It’s good … except for this one thing”, then stop and evaluate. Is it really this one thing? I’m willing to bet it’s a symptom of a larger issue that is affecting other aspects of your marriage. Trace the root issue, address it, and watch as the entirety of your marriage improves.
Do you have “one issue” in your marriage that is affecting the rest of your marriage? Are you avoiding dealing with it because “it’s only the one thing”. Have you faced the “one thing” in your marriage? Did the rest of your marriage improve? Is there another “one thing” you could be tackling?