How to Avoid the Post-Honeymoon Slump
- Lee Wilson Family Dynamics Institute
- 2003 8 Aug
The things I’ll share in this article aren’t just for newlyweds; they’re for any married couple looking to avoid slumps in their relationship. At times, we all may find our marriages out of sync. It seems that couples often experience a time of gloominess in the months following their honeymoon. Is this slump preventable? It is if you abide by the following principles.
• Principle #1: Don’t allow prolonged periods of anger
Christie and Ken argued into the late hours of the night. Finally, each became too sleepy to continue. While in bed, they fired verbal bullets at each other in an attempt to have the last word but eventually, both fell asleep.
The next morning Ken left for work earlier than usual to avoid breakfast with Christie. He did not call to tell her his lunch plans and when he came home, they did not speak to each other for several hours. It took weeks for the anger to subside completely and the event caused each to be impatient with the other when similar disagreements occurred. It seemed they had great difficulty reaching the level of emotional closeness experienced before.
The Bible tells us we should “not let the sun go down on [our] wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). It’s not that we shouldn’t ever be angry at each other. Anger and irritation are normal when we are intimate with someone because his or her actions and opinions matter more to us than someone we don’t know. The Bible does not tell us never to be angry. It tells us not to let the sun go down without making it right. I’ll go as far to say that we should resolve such situations with our spouse before we spend any time apart to work, play or travel. When one spouse must be away from his or her spouse for any amount of time, the relationship should be in a normal and intimate state. If it’s not, damage could occur in terms of emotional closeness and each would be at greater risk to temptations from the devil.
• Principle #2: Don’t punish the other by withholding sex
Jamie didn’t feel like making love with Brad after he’d forgotten about their plans to go out for dinner. He’d stayed late at the office and arrived nearly an hour after their dinner reservations had expired. Brad told Jamie he was very sorry, but Jamie was still hurt.
As the two lay in bed, Brad caressed her in the way that usually signaled his desire to be intimate, but Jamie let out a mocking laugh. Without saying a word, she turned away from Brad and shut her eyes. Brad stared at the ceiling well into the night while hurting inside. The space between them felt like a mile, and Brad felt alienated and rejected.
It’s very true that Brad should have placed more importance on the dinner Jamie had planned. His carelessness ruined what could have been a pleasant evening and hurt Jamie’s feelings. However, perhaps you’ve heard the popular saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Paul tells married couples in 1 Corinthians 7:5 to “not deprive one another except in a time of mutual consent … and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you.”
We should all be able to sympathize with Jamie. She was hurt and wanted Brad to know how badly. Maybe she wanted to get back at him. The Bible, however, tells us not to take revenge on each other and to be patient with each other (Deuteronomy 32:35 and 1 Thessalonians. 5:14). By openly rejecting physical intimacy with her husband, Jamie deeply hurt Brad. When the hurt diminished, Brad became bitter towards her. Not only did she reject him but she also rejected an opportunity to reconcile with him through physical oneness. The only thing she accomplished by withholding sex was to hurt Brad. It that was her goal, she succeeded.
Husbands and wives should never withhold sex in order to punish the other because God designed sex to be the ultimate expression of romantic love and unity between husband and wife. It is too sacred to be used in petty squabbles and fights or as a proverbial carrot dangling before the eyes of the other to produce desired behavior.
• #3: Avoid the temptation to blame unmet needs on life’s situations
Adam worked two jobs in order to save up enough money to make a down payment on the house he and Tiffany wanted. When he walked into the door each night, he was ready to go to bed. Tiffany, however, had other plans.
She expected him to tell her about his day and to listen as she told him about her own. She also expected him to sit down to dinner with her and to “cuddle” with her at bedtime. Adam usually wanted to go to sleep early and didn’t have the energy for lovemaking. When Tiffany would protest, Adam assured her things would change when he stopped working two jobs.
After several months, Adam had saved up the money for a large down payment and the two moved into their house. Adam eventually quit working two jobs but continued to be cold and distant. Whenever she would question him about this, he promised things would improve when his stress level at work diminished or when he began getting more sleep. It seemed that he had a different set of excuses every time Tiffany inquired.
It wasn’t that Adam’s job kept him from fulfilling Tiffany’s needs or opening up to her. It was that he developed the habit of not fulfilling her because he could blame it on events beyond his control rather than himself. The solution would be for him to place first importance on meeting her needs regardless of the situation. After all, no situation is more important than the needs of your wife or husband, and their needs do not disappear during times when we think we are too busy to fulfill them.
If meeting the needs of your spouse is as important as it should be, life’s difficulties won’t get in the way because you won’t allow them to do so.
It all comes down to …
If every husband and wife would put the other first, the situations described above would not occur. However, because we are imperfect humans, it’s important to be patient with our spouses and constantly work toward the goal of being the best husband or wife we can be.
If you avoid the three areas discussed above, you can keep your marriage free of many slumps and difficulties. Above all, remember what 1 Corinthians 13 says about love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
© 2003 Family Dynamics Institute
Lee Wilson is a ministry consultant at Family Dynamics Institute, a marriage and family ministry that works with churches and concerned Christians to build strong, healthy marriages. You can visit their Web site at www.familydynamics.net or call them at 1-800-650-9995. If you are interested in working with married couples at your church, ask for Lee.
To learn how God can help you make your marriage all it should be and all you want it to be, click here to purchase "Becoming One: Emotionally, Spiritually, Sexually," written by Joe Beam, the president of Family Dynamics Institute.