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.