The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that most couples today are more interested in what they gain from, than what they contribute to their relationship.
Since we got married, my wife and I deliberately set time away from our busy schedule to review our life together.
As we use this break to rest and to enjoy each other’s company, we also take time to do some house cleaning, getting rid of the cobwebs and little foxes that could undermine our love life.
Being around people is draining. Having worked in the people businesses since we got married, we have always been surrounded by people.
Serving as teachers and thereafter becoming pastors made us realise that as much as relationships can re-energise us, they are also responsible for the emotional drain, stress, conflict and pain we face.
HAVE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
A friend said to me once, “Putting more than two people together in a room is a conflict waiting to happen.”
True, but even just two people are enough to brew conflict — if you do not deliberately work on your marriage, you will soon get to a place where you start to irritate each other.
Relationships, just like careers, need to be upgraded often to remain vibrant and productive.
One of the simplest, yet most effective things you can do for your relationship is schedule time for it. Life is busy, and if you’re not careful, your relationship might get lost in the midst of the rat race.
It is also important to keep replenishing what you take from your relationship. If you keep taking yet you don’t give back, the resources you have will eventually dry out.
Due to what I do, I have had an opportunity to hear numerous stories from relatives and friends who have been through cycles of conflict.
Listening to them made me realise just how much couples can be devastated by a series of unresolved issues, including inability to have children, which comes with its fair share of pressure from society.
If lack of support for each other is thrown in, it becomes even worse.
As we do to a stuffy room, we can get rid of the accumulated unresolved issues in our relationships by letting in fresh air. This you can only do through free dialogue.
Recently, a friend bought a new lawnmower. After a few months, one of his employees reported that the mower was not working.
When he returned it to the dealers who had sold it to him, it turned out to be a case of negligence — the engine oil had not been changed as had been required.
Could your relationship be like that lawnmower? Have you ever changed the oil since the two of you got together?
If you don’t inject some freshness into it once in a while — it could be having monthly dinners, going on holiday together or simply spending time together — then do not be surprised if you start becoming unhappy.
We all run out of gas some time, and when we do, it only makes sense to stop and refuel.
Challenges should also not hinder romance. Problems will always be part of every healthy and growing relationship.
However, the hard times we face should not necessarily spell doom for your relationship.
A friend once recounted an interesting story. He came home from work carrying several bills that cast a dark cloud over his head.
He wondered whether this was the cycle he was stuck with every month. Would he ever attain the financial freedom he had aspired to for a long time?
He felt that there was nothing to celebrate, but walking into the kitchen, he found his wife making dinner. She turned around and gave him a hug.
And then his two-year-old son came to him and started pulling on his trouser, calling “Daddy, Daddy!”
The little boy then handed him a painting he had made. Looking at the masterpiece, the boy pointed to a drop of ink on the paper and said, “My Daddy!”
This friend told me that all his worries melted away at that point after he realised just how lucky he was in spite of his financial situation.
In the midst of work and the many engagements we have are the silent voices of pain, exhaustion, fear, and anxiety.
But it is important that we tune off these voices and begin to hear the silent voices of love and affirmation around us.
I heard from a preacher recently that the health of one’s work should be a reflection of the health of their family. Family should always take precedence over work.
How consistent and deliberate are you in creating room in your life for each other? Romance must be deliberate and carefully nurtured. This may include setting aside alone time that fosters reconnection.
Ironically, everyone wants to be in a marriage that brings pleasure, but not many are willing to pay the price of investing in such a marriage.
We all want love, peace and fun in our relationships, but we must be willing to sow the right seed because we reap what we sow.
There are no shortcuts to making a relationship productive. True, we are all human, living in these bodies that are plagued with selfish desires and tempted towards self-indulgence and personal profit, but we can change the cycle if we’re intentional about it.
For a marriage to work, there are choices the man makes and choices the woman makes.
Unfortunately, many of the choices we make come with consequences that we tend to regret later.
For example, I can choose a job a long way from home, denying me time with my family, or I may fail to schedule time with my family.
The result is a growing distance between me and those that should matter most to me. When we choose not to put time aside on a regular basis to re-energise our marriage, we will soon run on empty.
When we stop taking time off with our spouse, it communicates several factors. First, we believe that our spouse is not a priority.
Deep down, those in unsatisfactory relationships have this belief that they don’t have everything they need physically, emotionally, intellectually or materially in their relationship, yet they still do not see the need to prioritise it.
The result? A wild goose chase in the pursuit of elusive happiness.
Many believe getting into another relationship will get them the happiness they miss in their current one.
The problem with this approach is that if you are unable to care for one relationship, how can you care for the next?
Generally, we don’t show the needed care and patience that our relationship require, simply because we are greedy and want a quick way out.
For others, work has become their mistress. Obviously, those who prioritise work over their family value it more.
It does not occur to them that should they, for whatever reason, not be capable of working anymore, all they will have to fall back on is their family.
Unfortunately, by then, it might be too late to build a relationship with your family, your wife and children. There is more to life than closing that deal or getting a promotion and a raise.
Sometimes pastors work themselves to the grave, working seven days a week because we find identity in the work we do.
When I was younger in my marriage and in the ministry, I was caught in the fear that I was not working hard enough for the church.
Alongside this was the frustration of thinking that I may not have enough time for my family.
For most of us, money is a big worry, we live in the constant fear that we may not be in a position to pay our bills and take care of other needs.
I believe this is the same worry that many other men like me, whatever their station in life, have.
With this in mind, I have since learnt that allowing myself to be controlled by worry will not multiply the money in my account, and therefore I take whatever comes my way in my stride.
The right way to go about it would be to celebrate the good things we have in our relationships instead of losing what we have by chasing after what we wish we had.