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Overdraft Protection

Aug 28, 2022

There are certain rules to every relationship. There are principles that are true even though relationships and people and circumstance may be different. As Trisha and I talk with couples and coach couples in their marriage, there is a principle that all of us know, but very few of us are living with an awareness of: If you make more withdrawals than deposits into your marriage, a relational meltdown is on the horizon.

When we started dating our spouse, the time we set aside for 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’d call 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 some 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 have deep conversations is because there is conflict. The only times 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 are some symptoms to an overdrawn marriage account:

-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 add value back into your marriage relationship?

-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 I have seen in my own marriage how taking time to do these things, allows us to navigate conflict in a way that makes us stronger instead of tearing us apart.

Are there other ways to invest in your spouse that you would add to the list?