What Your Marriage Needs after 10 Years that it Didn’t Need at First

What Your Marriage Needs after 10 Years that it Didn’t Need at First

Gary Chapman writes, “Being in love is an emotional and obsessive experience. However, emotions change and obsessions fade. Research indicates that the average lifespan of the "in love" obsession is two years. For some it may last a bit longer; for some, a bit less. But the average is two years.”

We all rationally know that relationships change. They are not the same on day 1, day 1,825, and day 14,600. And in so many ways, this is a good thing. Love does grow, but not without elements to foster the process. Just as a plant needs air, soil, and water, relationships need key ingredients, too—love, trust, time, grace, truth, patience.

Some of these things are more willingly given at the front end of the marriage because we’re high on the newness. We have a lot of energy to devote to one another.

But then, other things start to come into our lives—demanding jobs, children, financial responsibilities, elderly parents, volunteer obligations, etc. We feel pulled into so many arenas, our priorities fall out of whack, and sometimes we forget to feed the very relationship that is part of our sustenance. Yes, God is always the true source of love and wisdom and power, but He also said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. He knew what we needed to function in this world—a solid relationship with our partner.

Whether it’s been 2 years, 10 years, or 20 years, what marriages need is intentionality. There will be some parts of your relationship in which it’s easier to remain intentional. But just as a plant will not grow with just water, a relationship will not grow fully if you only pay attention to certain parts of it. 

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  • Here are 5 areas where your intentionality will help your marriage grow:

    Here are 5 areas where your intentionality will help your marriage grow:

    Slide 1 of 5

    1. Intentional in-depth conversation:

    There’s a laundry list of things we need to talk about daily in order to keep our household running smoothly. It’s awesome to have a partner who can help keep things on track. But conversations about who is running carpool, who is going to the store, or who is taking off work to care for the sick kiddo will not ultimately contribute to the growth of your relationship if this is all you discuss.

    Your partner is rich with stories, struggles, and dreams. Part of the reason God brings us together is so that we have someone who will draw those struggles, stories, and dreams out of us. And we all become richer in the process. Remember, these conversations are not about fixing, solving, or making things happen. They are about seeking to understand and creating space to listen.

    Make it happen: Brainstorm a list of questions individually that you’d like to ask or be asked. Look at your schedule a week ahead and carve out time to talk. Even if it’s 15 minutes, that’s such a good start. Here are some resources to get you talking.

    Photo Credit: Thinkstock

  • 2. Intentional sacrifice:

    2. Intentional sacrifice:

    Slide 2 of 5

    One of the reasons God cares so much about marriage is because it’s supposed to reflect how much Jesus loves the Church. This is a type of love (agape) that is unconditional and enduring.  Jesus’ love for us was so compelling that He was willing to die for us—the ultimate sacrifice.

    Thus, in marriage, we too must sacrifice for each other. (Note: Good marriages are where both people are sacrificing for each other and for the benefit of the marriage, not just one.) It’s easy to get caught up in our own needs and desires. It’s easy to get caught up in the tit-for-tat or the “when he does X, then I’ll do Y.” But where does this cycle ever end? The truth is, It doesn’t and it definitely doesn’t help grow your relationship.

    Make it happen: Have a conversation with your spouse. What are both of your primary needs and how can you work together to prioritize them? Take it a step further: What are the needs of your marriage and how can you prioritize them? 

    Photo Credit: Thinkstock

  • 3. Intentional sex:

    3. Intentional sex:

    Slide 3 of 5

    Busyness, headaches, children, conflicting schedules, date nights go wrong, unforgiveness, medical issues. I could go on. It seems that for some of us, there are numerous reasons why we can’t seem to have sex on a regular basis.

    But there is an intimacy found in this act that God deemed crucial for the health of our relationship (hello, Song of Solomon). It is supposed to be pleasurable for both. I know this is not always the case, but it is worth exploring how it possibly can be so you don’t miss out on this kind of connection.

    Make it happen: Have an honest conversation about how you both feel about sex. What gets in the way? What mental, spiritual, emotional, and/or physical hurdles are standing in the way of this healthy sex life? What avenues can you explore together to help get you on a path to healthy sexuality? 

    Photo Credit: Pexels

  • 4. Intentional spiritual growth:

    4. Intentional spiritual growth:

    Slide 4 of 5

    I’ve been reading The Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz and uncovered way more about myself than I ever wanted to know. If I don’t realize the *why* behind certain behaviors, I can just blame it on my personality or the “way I’ve always done things.” I can hide behind denial and self-protection and go about life believing this is the best way to live. Sounds good, right?

    Until.

    It sounds good until one reads sentences like this: “Their willingness to have their needs met is the first step in their spiritual journey home.”

    I’m a 2 on the Enneagram and my greatest fear is being unloved/not needed. I self-protect by going about making sure everyone is ok, helping them with whatever they need, and neglect letting anyone know that I have needs too. But this causes problems in my marriage. Because all my needs end up leaking out sideways and it’s just a big ol’ mess. But if I continued in my ways of self-protection, I would continue to recreate the same mess over and over again. It’s my responsibility to get with God and get this all sorted out—to find healing and wholeness and to allow Craig to help me where he can.

    Make it happen: Make some time for personal reflection. What’s hindering you in your relationship with God? In what areas do you desire to grow and change? Where can you make time for Jesus on a regular basis? How can you and your spouse partner together to make that time for you both individually?

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

  • 5. Intentional community:

    5. Intentional community:

    Slide 5 of 5

    Marriage is hard, even if it doesn’t look like it on social media. You need people who get you, who get the trials of relationship, and who are willing to support you through hard times. There is a reason Paul writes to the Hebrews to not give up gathering together so we can encourage and spur one another on. We need people with whom to do life.

    Make it happen: Join a community group at your church. Invite another couple out to dinner and be real with your struggles. Ask them to be real with you. Check in on each other often.

    No matter how long you’ve been married, you know when intention is lacking in your relationship. Even if you feel it’s lacking in all the areas listed above, don’t let it overwhelm you. Choose one and discuss it with your spouse. This act alone contributes to the growth and depth of your relationship.

    Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography and are also creators of the Marriage Matters Prayer Cards. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. Jen is also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

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