I know. It’s not you. Or maybe it is.
The more likely truth is both of you have room to grow. My husband and I both would have to sheepishly (or with gusto?!) raise our hands to confess our need to grow.
Alas, marriage can’t sustain on the giddiness of falling in love. (Of course, people falling in love don’t quite comprehend this). Marriage has to be made and remade all the time. Like, all the time. Why is that?
Probably because when two people get married, they are individuals, and they don’t stop being and growing as individuals as they simultaneously are wrestling on how to be one.
There’s a lot of wrestling going on, what with the finances and the in-laws and the little
heathens children and the career meanderings and the house projects and the soccer games and the “we are out of milk again” and the moments of seething and the moments of rejoicing.
So many joys. So many losses. So many confusions. So many delights. All huddled under the umbrella of matrimony like wriggly children who sometimes squabble and sometimes hug with abandon.
And let’s not forget the calendar that looks like all the sharpies and highlighters and sticky notes had a drunken orgy.
(Yes. I do know that few people are using actual paper calendars these days. But you now can’t unsee my wildly accurate image, right?)
We don’t spend too much time in marriage before the work of it saunters on to the scene, like a stray cat that acts as if this is indeed a lifelong home. The hard work reads the room, plops down on the couch and brashly declares, “Why yes, I would like to stay here forever.”
I love marriage. I really do. I just don’t always like the work of being married. BUT—and this is an ever-so-important but—it is within the work where we find the potential for profound connection and the revelatory knowing of one another.
Yup. All the good stuff in marriage is a by-product of choosing to put in the effort and to love well.
Ponder for a moment what happens when a husband and wife drift away from their consideration of one another, their friendship, their respect and their intentionality. Glance at your own marriage and reflect upon when things were quite good…and when things were quite bad…and pinpoint the general variables that are common threads in those scenarios. What was it that made things good? What was it that made things bad?
All the good stuff in marriage is a by-product of choosing to put in the effort and to love well. And that takes work. Even if you don’t want to call it work, I still would say that’s what it is. Worth it, yes. But work, nonetheless.
And that includes sex.
Beautiful and pleasurable sexual connection in a marriage flows out of this wrestling and this hunger to know one another. It flows out of intentionality. I absolutely love sex. Love. It. But loving it isn’t alone what makes it great. Just like loving marriage isn’t alone what makes it great.
There’s a Pink Floyd song with the line, “Was it love? Or was it the idea of being in love?” I can’t tell you how many times I have thought of that line.
Sometimes I think we love the idea of being in love rather than the intentionality of actually pouring into love. The former is summed up in surfacey romantic memes. In restaurant lingo, we’d call this front-of-house stuff. The latter is drenched in behind-the-scenes gut-level micro-choices made on a somewhat regular basis against a backdrop of a lot messiness. That’s back-of-house stuff for the restauranteurs of marriage.
And yes, I do know there are marriages that stand in their healthy footing more often than not. But what got them there? Back-of-house stuff got them there, I have no doubt. Learning to be intentional amidst the ebb and flow and mess. I have long said that whatever direction we walk long enough becomes our normal.
If you are intentional with healthy relational habits (or any habits, really), then that becomes your normal. If you drift into careless, nonchalant or indifferent relational habits and walk in that direction long enough, then that becomes your normal.
So who is the slacker in your marriage? My guess is you both are, at least to some degree. But the bigger question is, “What steps…even baby steps…can you take to get to the profound knowing of one another?”
I wish I could tell you it won’t take some work. I also wish I could tell you that once you experience it, it will last forever on its own. But I’m here to encourage and motivate, not lie. And lest you think I’ve got this all figured out, I assure you I do not. I’m still sorting these things out in my own marriage and in my own bed.
The variables that make any of it profound are rarely variables we stumble upon, but rather they are treasures we pursue and mine and cement into the foundation of our relationship, like colored pieces of glass in a mosaic. The foundation is never done. We spend the entire relationship building—adding the beautiful pieces and repairing the broken ones.
Don’t be slackers, my friends. Not in your marriage and not in your bed.
Copyright 2021, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.