Winter’s bite is in the air and it’s playoff time in the National Football League. Everyone knows that, even if you’ve decided to tune out the frenzy that accompanies the season.

Here in Seattle the tension and excitement is palpable. For the first time in years, maybe forever, we can taste success. We feel it, dream about it, and yes, talk about it ad nauseum.

A recent visit to Qwest Field — Seahawk Stadium — was an incredible experience. Imagine 65,000 rabid, frothing fans with a singular purpose — to see their beloved Seahawks win. Sportscasters talk about our "home field advantage," because the stadium is known to be a raucous and boisterous venue. There is no one in the trenches here, whiling away their time with mundane activities; only radical and fanatical fans in the grandstands, cheering excitedly.

I am ecstatic for the success of the Seahawks; I am equally discouraged about the time most couples spend in the trenches in their marriage. Imagine: we put time into painting our faces, tattooing our arms, buying megaphones and T shirts supporting our sports team, yet we fail to champion our mate.

Consider our plight — being caught up in what has been called "the tyranny of the urgent," we expend our energies on everyday things like work, getting kids to soccer practice and dentist appointments, or perhaps sprucing up our homes so they are the nicest on the block. None of these activities, of course, are bad. But, when they become our sole focus to the exclusion of championing our mates, our marriages suffer.

Perhaps your marriage is not in the middle of a huge crisis like pornography addiction or an adulterous affair. Yet allowing the spark to fade – slowing growing apart as the daily grind chips away at your relationship – can also be damaging to a Christian marriage.

I clearly remember a phone call from Debbie. She inquired about an appointment for herself and her husband, Kerry. During our brief conversation, she said they needed something to bring back the spark in their marriage. Several days later they came in for their appointment.

Kerry was a tall, well-built man with a long, flowing beard. My initial impression was that he would be loud and forceful, so I was surprised by his soft voice and passive manner.

Debbie was a large woman with long, blond hair. She wore jeans, tennis shoes and a sweater. She appeared tense and tenuous.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries, I got things rolling.

"Debbie, when we talked on the phone the other day, you mentioned that you and Kerry need something to bring a spark back to your marriage. Why don’t you tell me a bit about your relationship?"

"Well, I don’t think anything is really wrong with us. At least nothing major. But, we don’t talk much. I think we are the classic couple that has grown so comfortable together that we don’t really know each other really well anymore. I’ve noticed we’ve been doing more criticizing lately. I can’t speak for Kerry, but I think both of us may be getting discouraged about how things are going."

"How about it, Kerry?" I asked.

Kerry stroked his beard. "Well," he said slowly, "it can’t be all that bad. We’ve been married fourteen years and have two great kids. I work hard and enjoy the chance to play golf. Debbie works and likes to attend quilting parties with her friends. I guess I didn’t know things were so bad."

"So, things are okay as far as you’re concerned?" I asked.