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I think one of the best ways we can nurture our marriage is to recognize where we need to mature.
That's what I have tried to do with regard to four ways I have sometimes sabotaged intimacy (sexual and otherwise) in my marriage without realizing it.
Do you see any of these four dynamics in your marriage:
It is so easy to take people for granted, even when (or especially when?) they are the people we do life with day in and day out.
I have sometimes become so comfortable with all that my husband does for me and for our family that I get laxed in actually saying “thank you.”
(Since we're being real here, I might as well admit I was even developing a bit of an entitled mentality.)
While I don’t think my lack of gratitude was necessarily destroying our intimacy, I began to see that it wasn’t building it either.
Showing appreciation builds tender connection (sexual and otherwise). Taking each other for granted, on the other hand, lends itself to stagnant co-existence, which sucks. It breeds a roommate mentality that is not healthy for a husband and a wife, who certainly should be way more than roommates.
I'm far from perfect in showing gratitude, but I am more conscientious of it for sure. It only takes a moment to speak the words, write a text or drop a note in his lunch box to point out something specific for which I am grateful.
“If only...” Those two words can be the death of intimacy in a marriage.
“If only he would parent like me."
"If only he would tackle house projects like I would."
"If only he would deal with in-laws the way I think is right."
"If only he would look at sex like I do."
Yes, it’s reasonable to expect that we find healthy ways to compromise and work out disagreements. But it is not reasonable to expect him to think like I do, no more than it is reasonable for him to expect me to think like him.
I have read a few books by Brene´ Brown, a social researcher, author and speaker who has written extensively about emotional vulnerability and how we relate to people. I like her book Daring Greatly the best, but she has other books as well.
In her book Rising Strong, one thing she digs into is what happens when we assume people are doing the best they can (which is freakishly hard to do in some scenarios, right?). Can that assumption, even when we are disappointed or frustrated with someone, help us better navigate the situation?
When I read that portion of her book, I began to wonder to myself, “Am I assuming the best about Randy?” Sadly, sometimes I’m not, even when I can rationally tell myself that I know beyond a doubt he is a good man, loving father and husband, and hard worker.
I'm trying to discipline my heart more to assume the best about him, rather than default to assuming the worst. Assuming the best about my husband builds intimacy between us.
I’m not proud to admit this, but I at times have been more gracious with my friends than with my own husband.
For example, a friend texts me and says she needs to reschedule our coffee date. I’m compassionate, flexible and happy to find another date.
But when my husband suggests changes to a date he and I had planned (and has a legitimate reason for the change), I can feel the resentment building in my heart before the words are barely out of his mouth.
And it’s not even like he is doing this on a regular basis.
Instead of being so easily offended by him (and so rarely offended by my friends), I started asking myself, “Why am I not more gracious with him?”
And you know what? I couldn't come up with a good answer, which of course was a humbling lightbulb moment for me. It challenged me to be as quick to extend him grace as I do with other people I love.
This side of heaven, I know we will all struggle to some degree with our selfish desires and depravity. That’s just the harsh reality of being human in a world marred by sin and the prowl of the enemy.
BUT we also are called to grow in our righteousness and reflection of Christ. That’s just the jubilant reality of being children of God in a world privy to redemption and the love of the Savior.
Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.