It's true.  Occasionally, my wife and I get into it.  Figuratively speaking, we kick, punch, claw, wrestle and just plainly get mad.  Throughout our marriage, the fighting hasn't gotten better; it's actually intensified.  And now here we sit, with a total of 5 kids in our home, and we realize we have a problem.  The problem: we aren't fighting enough.

For years we have spent time with couples in pre-marital counseling, talking to them about how God's desire in marriage is oneness.  This oneness can be described as intimate, sacrificial, transparent love for each other.  It's the type of love that demonstrates to this world the love that God has for His people.  Our other option - isolation.

Years ago Steph and I attended a marriage conference hosted by Family Life.  This lesson of oneness vs isolation has probably been what Steph and I remember most about that weekend.  We walked away realizing that unless we were purposeful at pursuing each other, we would slowly drift apart.

Fast forward all the way to a few weeks ago.  Steph and I were on a date, fumbling around over dinner.  I asked her the question how she thought we were doing with having 2 foster kids in addition to our 3 kids.  (A total of 5 under the age of 5).  What we realized on that date was that we were drifting.  Our marriage was fine, but we could see the small degree of separation that was forming due to all the craziness of life.

Even after our date I sent out this tweet:

When you first get married, you kind of just ride on that cloud of the freshness in marriage.  That lasts for a while.  And then change begins.  Add a child, some financial difficulty, some unexpected changes at work, and the next thing you know, those "troubles" that scripture promises begin to tear you apart.  Fighting for oneness as newlyweds only requires what an obese man with a really soft pillow could win.  It requires little stamina and the "punches" feel more playful than anything.

For us, we realized we need to step up our game.  The enemy wages war on marriage, and we are in it to win.  The fight I picture now is of an MMA fight.  The pillows have been reduced to almost bare-knuckle fighting.  "Eye of the Tiger" is playing in the background.  We - like Rocky did - are running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, training for a fight that is ongoing in our marriage.

We talked about a few changes we needed to make:

Recognition that we need to fight harder. The first thing for us was just realizing that our fight needed to intensify.  Once that happened, we were on the same page to talk about changes together.

Pray together more regularly. This isn't just before meals, but earnestly seeking the Lord together.  This has been something we've in which we've been lazy.  We want that to change.

Go on more regular dates. We go on dates pretty often.  What we realized, though, was with each child we have added to our finally, it increased the need for us to get away and connect.  So for us, what might have been once every 2-3 weeks needs to be once every 1-2 weeks.

Be purposeful on dates to interact at a deeper level. Our dates had become routine.  We'd go out to dinner and then to Starbucks, or maybe a movie.  What was missing was a deeper, more intimate conversation. We don't want our marriage merely to survive, but to thrive.  For this reason, we are making these changes.

How about you?  Is your marriage drifting?  Have you already noticed it was?  If so, what did you do about it? 

 

For more blog posts like this on leading, following, parenting, fostering, and family, visit Kevin's blog at <a href="http://www.followingtolead.com" target=_blank">www.followingtolead.com</a>.