We are always one step away from a changed life. I hate to simplify it, because I’m a big believer that life is never black or white, that tones of greys to yellows and every hue in between is where we all operate in. But as I sit here next to my person, the one whose picked up my emotional baggage and carefully packed it away into the drawers of our joined life, I reflect on these last 5 years. When is the last time we’ve held hands walking through the store instead of hastily stuffing them in our pockets? When is the last time we ignored what was on our phones and got lost in a conversation to get to know each other better?When is the last time we let that small greeting peck linger into a tingle worthy kiss? When is the last time date night was leisurely instead of a rush to enjoy our children’s company over each other’s?
World renowned marriage therapist, Dr. John Gottman, has one of the most compelling, research driven theories about successful marriages. Couples who are flourishing turn towards each other and those who are floundering turn away. We all make bids for our spouse’s attention. Gottman says, “a bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection.” Maybe it really is that simple, make a decision to turn towards one another.
We can be emotionally estranged in varying degrees without realizing there is anything wrong. Kids become the centrifugal force driving the family, but often propelling us away from intimacy. Maybe your ship is being powered by the obsessiveness over a career, a lust for bigger better things, brokenness over life’s tragedies, a thrill of finding greener grasses, or just comfort in the complacencies you’ve long welcomed as normal. As you look back and see which path you’re on it doesn’t matter the distance between where you are now and where you want to be, it takes one single decision to close that gap. Trust me, it can feel uncomfortable. Making the effort to turn towards your spouses bids can overwhelm you with an uneasy feeling because it’s unfamiliar. You are rebuilding a new normal. I’ve too often in my brief marriage had a silent inner dialogue of what if’s. What if he doesn’t like holding my hand? What if he pulls away when I reach out for a kiss? What if the thought of a trip with just the two of us fills him with dread?
But wouldn’t we be better served by reminding ourselves that we were chosen. Vows were exchanged in blissful love. Our beloved wants us to feel cherished.
Our marriage can make ripples of joy into all areas of our lives. When turning toward feels awkward start with one small decision, a tiny pebble. Greet them with a kiss. Verbalize only your gratitude for one day, fighting the urge to express each and every grumbling thought. Send a random sultry text message. Confidently grab their hand while driving. Tell Alexa to turn it up as you turn your kitchen into a dance floor.
Then sit back and watch the ripples grow as you turn your pebbles into stones. God is in the business of restoration. Invite him along in the process of making marriage a fun priority again! God can allow small things make big echos. Our marriage can echo straight to heaven, into the hearts of our children, making a resounding joyful noise to our friends and neighbors.
What small kingdom impacting decision will you make in your marriage today?