It's no secret that most of the couples who come for biblical counseling have marriages that are in trouble. The reasons won't surprise you much, the solutions might! Here are some common complaints and some rapid-fire thoughts I have on how to fix your marriage. The complaints are nothing new and fall into the typical categories: time, money, feelings, and sex.
Complaint: "I'm not happy." Usually at least one person will tell us they are not happy with their marriage. It really surprises me how little time couples spend together and how much of marriage is conducted via text message. If you are a wife whose primary means of "talking" to your husband is a text message or a social media post I have some advice for you- STOP IT. It is impossible to have a true relationship in 140 characters or through your cell phone text box.
Spending time together is the only way a couple will remain a couple. Every couple needs a date night. EVERY couple, EVERY week needs to go on a date. For those of you who don't remember what a "date" actually is I will refresh your memory. A date is when a man asks a woman to accompany him somewhere outside the house for several hours. A date can include dinner, coffee, dessert, water over ice, seeing a show or movie (not my personal favorite because there is no communication), a walk, a boat ride, a ride in the car or on horseback. In short, anything that the two of you do together for the purpose of enjoying each others company can be a date. The couple can take turns determining what date night will consist of, or one person can always decide. It does not have to cost a fortune or any money at all. The purpose of a date is to enjoy being alone together.
TALK while you are together. LEARN what is going on in each others lives during the day. LISTEN to your spouse talk about their hopes, dreams, job, latest project, favorite cooking show, the thing that bothers them the most, their favorite color or hand tool. Talking leads to relationship building, relationship building leads to understanding.
Talk about money and finances. Create and live by a budget! Discuss what your financial goals are for your family in 1-5-10 years and beyond. All of these things lead to what is known as happiness. Relationship building will also lead to that emotional connectedness that will increase sexual desire with your spouse.
While I am at it, lets talk a bit about sex. I am really astonished that so many Christian marriages are sex-less! It is heartbreaking to listen to couples say there is no physical desire between them, or that one partner could live without sexual intimacy for the rest of their lives. People...can I tell you how wrong that is?! Husbands and wives are to meet each other's physical needs on a regular basis. If you have no desire for one another, get to the doctor and be sure you have no medical condition that needs addressing. Once that is taken care of, if there is still no desire for sexual intimacy with your husband it is clear you have relationship issues that must be addressed.
Some common desire killers are: being overweight. Yes, I dare to say it. As a person who struggles with her own weight, there have been times when I was self-conscious about my appearance because I packed on a few too many pounds. I didn't want to be physical because I thought I looked bad. Few women will admit it, but many know it's true; some women hide from intimacy behind their size. The "simple" solution....you already know it. Lose the weight, every pound helps.
Another common desire killer is tiredness. Some women just do too many things in a day and are too tired to be interested in physical intimacy. If this is you, cut things out of your daily schedule that are non-essential like crafts, book reading, television watching, and so on and go to bed early with your spouse! If you have time, take a short nap so you are refreshed and awake enough to be interested.
Get the kids out of your bed and your bedroom. Your children do not need to sleep with you, even if you are nursing them! It is dangerous to have them in bed because they can be crushed as you sleep. It is also wrong to use the kids as a shield against intimacy. Even if they cry, like their little heart is breaking in the beginning I promise, your little one will be just fine in his or her own bed or crib. You and your husband need the private time in your room that will grow your relationship. Once the kids are out of there, determine not to have difficult discussions in your bedroom either. There are most likely several other places to have unpleasant discussions in your home.
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, the place that is uniquely yours as a couple. Fix it up in a way that stirs up romance and desire. If the television is a distraction, get it out of there and replace it with soft, sensual music. Repaint, recover, or redecorate if you can afford it. These things are simple and will help your mindset turn toward romance.
These are only a few of the more basic things to think about if your marriage is a mess. I will have more ahead in the coming days, deeper as we go!