Monday, January 7, 2019

Unhappily Married

A few months ago our family went to eat at a local restaurant. This particular restaurant has booths divided by a glass divider and of course we were seated in one of those booths. While we waited on my wife to arrive, I noticed a couple sitting in the booth just on the other side of the glass divider from our booth. Being a tall person you can't help but look over dividers and walls when seated in a restaurant. This couple, seated within an arm's length of me, was eating their meal in silence. They were probably in their late 50's or maybe early 60's and simply ate their meal in silence. After I noticed they weren't talking to each other, I tried my best to watch out of the corner of my eye if they ever talked to each other. They didn't look particularly pleased to be eating a meal together, so I tried my best to observe them without being that weird guy staring at them from the next booth. For what seemed like forever, they never talked other than to the waitress when she brought them their bill. After that it was silence. They got up from their meal without saying anything and headed to pay their bill.

Now I know I'm making some assumptions from my limited observation of this couple I don't know, but they seemed to be unhappy about spending time together as a couple. We all know about couples who pour themselves into their kids or careers or hobbies for years and then when those things are gone, all they can do is stare at each other across the table because they no longer know the person to which they're married. I'm making a big assumption, but I think this couple I observed was experiencing this kind of marriage relationship.

Marriage is the second hardest job you'll ever have with raising kids being the first. You are two imperfect people attempting God's perfect plan for human relationships. Our baggage, failures, and selfish desires can make for a challenging marriage relationship. When we don't put the necessary time into caring for our marriage relationship, then we can expect it to suffer. Eventually what we find is that we are unhappily married to a person we barely know. Marriage is sort of like a vegetable garden you and your spouse plant. If you till the soil, plant the seeds, water the plants, dig out the weeds, and fertilize the plants, then you will reap an abundance of good fruits and vegetables. But if you don't put the work in and all you do is plant seeds, then you'll find yourself staring at your spouse from across the garden wondering what happened. Marriage is the same way. Marriage requires work, lots of work. When you put in the time you'll have a healthy thriving relationship. When you don't, then you find yourself with a withered, weed-filled relationship that doesn't feed you or your spouse.

To avoid being the couple who doesn't know each other and is unhappily married, start putting the work into your marriage relationship now. Whether its been 20 or 30 months of marriage or 20 or 30 years, you can still start caring for you marriage in a way that will help you avoid an unhappy marriage. Spend time together doing things you both enjoy doing individually and spend time together doing things you both enjoy doing together. Remember the little things your spouse likes and then do them or give them or celebrate them. If you're forgetful, make a list of your spouses favorite things and then find ways to surprise them with something from time to time. Probably the most helpful counsel I'd give you is to talk to each other. Communication is the life blood of relationships and without it, relationships can wither and die. When you talk, don't simply talk about work and the kids, also talk about those things that are happening in your spouse's life that matters to them. Work will one day be over and the kids will be out of the house. If they are your only conversation pieces, then you will find yourself staring across the table with nothing to talk about.

I'll close with this. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God. It is a perfectly designed and sometimes poorly executed personal relationship. Do what you can today to pour into your marriage all that is needed to make it the best and healthiest relationship it can be. When you do, you can avoid being that unhappily married couple that eats in silence.

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