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Dr David Christian Marriage Advice

The Power of Attention

The Power of Attention

Can you remember the excitement you felt when your mate lavished special attention on you? Perhaps it was a special evening, when he/ she spent all day preparing that special meal, arranging for the kids to away so you could spend quality time together.

Perhaps it was literally a ‘time away’ when you could lazily sleep in, enjoy the bed and breakfast, and then simply spend the day any way you wished. The critical aspect was time together with your mate without distractions. Cell phones put away. Computers left in their carrying case. Just the two of you.

Every couple needs this concentrated time together to reconnect and without it you will get caught in ‘the tyranny of the urgent.’ All the demands of life will crowd in and sap the loving energy from your relationship.

Jill and Thomas have only been married five years, but already they are experiencing the struggles that come from distractions and sought counseling to remedy the problem before it got worse.  

Thomas has started his own electrical business, and with this business has come long hours on the job in an attempt to get it off the ground. Jill works part-time at their business while also tending to their two young children.

“We are always so busy,” Jill complained. “Whenever I do see him he is distracted with the business. I’m wondering if starting the business was the best idea.”

“I think we can weather the storm,” Thomas said. “I don’t like how hard I have to work either, but it’s the price you pay for trying to get ahead.”

“What impact is this having on your marriage?” I asked them. “Is the business, and the challenge of raising a family, stopping you two from spending quality time together?”

“No doubt about it,” Jill said emphatically. “I feel our marriage losing ground every day. I don’t feel close to him anymore and can’t remember the last time I felt like I had his undivided attention.”

“Do you feel some of the same thing?” I asked Thomas. “Do you ever feel neglected as Jill works and cares for the children and the home?”

“I haven’t really thought that much about it,” he said. “But when you put it that way, ‘yes’ I feel neglected. She always has something to do. When I’m ready for her attention, she has a hundred things she ‘has’ to do.”

Here are some helpful suggestions to you in your relationship, whether dating or married, together for five weeks or fifty years.

First, every relationship is built upon loving attention. We thrive on being attended to, being told and shown that we are important. We want that someone special to make time for us, to show their intention of making us feel special.

Second, this loving attention must be ongoing. Something that was easy at the start of a relationship takes a bit more thought and energy later in the relationship. Time and responsibilities have a way of eroding our intention to make our mate feel special. We are never allowed the luxury of coasting in relationship.

Third, without loving attention, we become vulnerable to a ‘connection collapse’ and seeking attention elsewhere. One of the primary reasons for an affair is that someone took the time to shower us with time and attention. We never know how hungry we are for this time and attention until it may be too late.  

Finally, loving attention, mutually shared, can be exhilarating. Loving attention is something to be enjoyed—never a chore. When two people share loving attention with each other, both will feel a sense of excitement and joy in the relationship.

Scripture implores us to ongoing loving attention with each other. “Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (I Timothy 1: 5).

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Publication date: July 1, 2013