When we started dating our spouse, the time we set aside to invest in that relationship was huge. We carved out time to talk; we spent hours on the phone; we spent money we didn’t have to buy flowers; we drove long distances just to see them for a few hours; we went out to dinner three times a week. We called in sick to work just to spend the day together. We had a deep desire to see that relationship develop and grow.
So when conflict arose in that relationship, it seemed minimal because there had been so much investment that a minor withdrawal was easily reconciled. So many of us got married thinking, ”Man we are the perfect couple. We rarely fight, and when we do we make-up so easily.”
But then…life happens. Careers start, and then careers start dominating our lives. Kids start being born, and then kids start dominating our lives. Schedules get busier. Work gets more demanding. Every night of the week has a game, concert, recital, or home improvement project. Gradually, our time at home consists mostly of watching TV after a long day. The only time we seem to have deep conversations is because there is conflict. The only time we spend together are at school functions, or baseball games, or driving in the car to one more weekend obligation. The only time we go out is to take the kids to the movies.
So we begin to argue more, and fight more and resent more and demand more and have to be right more. We begin to make withdrawals in our relationship daily, while the deposits we make become less and less. One day you wake up and your are miserable in your marriage, because your account is overdrawn.
Here is what that cycle looks like:
- You fight about the same things over and over again
- A level 2 issue in your marriage is given a level 10 response
- Rather than thinking the best about your spouse, you are consistently assuming the worst.
- You’re more than willing to give others your best, while giving your spouse your leftovers.
This is a cycle that just feeds on itself. You begin to write relational checks that you can’t cash. So conflict happens more, it is more intense and it is harder to get over.
Can I offer some suggestions that will begin to allow you to break that cycle?
- write a note to your spouse
- come home from work on time
- get a babysitter and go out to dinner
- spend 30 minutes a day talking to one another (not arguing)
- buy your wife flowers
- tell your husband you’re proud of him
These aren’t rocket science. But we can’t continue to do the same things and expect different results. Breaking the cycle sometimes means going back to the basics that lead us to want to be married in the first place.
How have you broken the cycle in your marriage?