If you find yourself struggling with the challenges of togetherness, here are some simple suggestions.
- Remember who brought you together. God has united the two of you for a reason. It’s no accident. He calls you to become one (Genesis 2:24), to honor one another (Ephesians 5:22-33), to love one another (I Corinthians 13), and to remain together until death separates you (Matthew 19:9).
- Change the way you think. You’re still an individual. But God has called you to leave your father and mother and unite with your spouse. That means making changes in your thinking (you belong to someone else now) as well as your behavior (you don’t act like a single person anymore). Changing the way you think can change the way you feel. Start thinking like a married person, and you’ll probably begin to feel like one.
- Educate yourself about God’s desire for unity in your marriage. Read Bible passages that emphasize the importance of oneness and unity (John 17; 1 Corinthians 7). Personalize them by inserting your name and the name of your spouse. Pray that God will show you any attitudes and actions that stand in the way of oneness. Stop focusing on your mate’s mistakes, and start working on unity by changing yourself.
- Learn from others. Ask couples you know who have strong marriages how they moved from independence to interdependence. What mindsets and habits did they adopt that worked for them?
If you asked that of Bill and Ruth, here’s what they might tell you.
Bill was independent. So was Ruth. For the first three years of their marriage things were so rocky that both felt they’d made a mistake in getting married. They developed separate interests and friendships, spent little time with each other, grew apart, and even considered divorce. But because of their church background, they felt they had to stay together.
Things changed on their third anniversary. They made a commitment to each other: No matter what, they would learn how to connect and develop intimacy. They began studying the Bible and praying together, and attended every marriage conference they could find. They made spending time together a hobby; where you saw one, you’d see the other. They took up golf and skiing. For the next 20 years they would have at least one date a week.
Recently Bill and Ruth went to another marriage retreat — where they were voted Most Dedicated Couple. Their switch from aloneness to togetherness hadn’t just happened. They’d intentionally drawn closer and stuck with that commitment.
They’d probably tell you that intentional intimacy is an investment that always pays off — and they’d be right.
From Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, published by Tyndale. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.