Marital Drift and How to Stop It.

Have you ever had the experience of looking at your spouse in thinking, “We use to be so close. How did we drift apart? What happened?” If you have, you are not alone. I think that thought crosses the mind of nearly every spouse at one time or another.

Marriage can be like a boat without an anchor. It has a tendency to drift. In the beginning, when you’re close to shore, it doesn’t seem like a problem. But the further you get from shore the more prominent and problematic the drift can be. You start to experience things like:

  • Parenting problems.
  • Finances pressures.
  • Disagreements.
  • Career demands.
  • Differing sex drives.
  • Changing health.
  • Dashed expectations.

These types of things can contribute to a marital drift that is subtle and imperceivable at first, but over time noticeable and even threatening. Though normal, this tendency toward marital drift, left unattended, can leave a marriage boring at best and broken at worst.

So every marriage needs some anchors to keep it from drifting. Thankfully, these anchors are relatively simple, but you can never stop working at keeping these anchors in place…no matter how long you’ve been married.

Here are a few of the anchors that will help to hold your marriage in place and keep it from drifting:

  • Time. We’re talking about time together. When dating and first married, spouses spend a lot of time together. They watch movies together, go out to eat together, travel together, and in general just hang out together. But as responsibilities increase, the amount of time a couple spends together tends to decrease. Some of this is inevitable at certain stages of marriage, but when couples quit being intentional about spending time together, marriage starts to drift.
  • Laughter. The loss of humor is a telltale sign that a marriage is drifting. Yes, the seriousness of life has a tendency to suck the fun out of marriage, but that’s still no reason for us to completely hand over the left track in marriage. Fun, playfulness, and laughter do a marriage good. Even the Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Prov. 17:22 NLT) A couple who laughs together tends to stay together.
  • Kindness. You show kindness toward someone by the way you treat them. I don’t think anybody sets out to initially or intentionally treat their spouse unkind. But over time, we get caught up in the “big” things of marriage and start neglecting the smaller acts of kindness. Things like: saying “please” and “thank you,” opening the door for them, offering to help, refilling their glass, bragging on something they’ve done, lending a hand, etc. These types of things may seem small and inconsequential, but they are actually part of the glue that holds a marriage together and anchors it in place.
  • Talking. I’m not talking about sharing-your-deepest-darkest-feelings type of talking. I’m talking about just talking…about anything and everything; deep and shallow. Keep the flow going. I know we guys can have trouble with this. All this talk can seem unnecessary to us. But guys, this kind of talking keeps the gears of marriage lubricated and running more smoothly. It also helps wives feel like they’re a part of our world, rather than feeling shut out. So if you tend to be a little tight-lipped, I encourage you to suck it up and open up. This is a powerful anchor that you can use to keep your marriage from drifting.
  • Common goals. This is something that many couples lose as time goes by. At the beginning of the relationship, couples have a common goal of getting married. Then they have the common goal of building up their home and starting a family. But then, the tyranny of the urgent tends to take over. Goals tend to get lost in demands, and before you know it, spouses are either working towards different goals or no goals at all. It doesn’t have to be major. Your goal could be as simple as a weekend get-away, a simple renovation, some recreation you both like, or anything else you would both enjoy and look forward to. If you don’t know what that would be, then finding out is your first goal together.

So if your marriage is drifting, and it’s getting harder to see the shore, you might need to invest some time and effort into shoring up your anchors. I’ll guarantee it will be a whole lot easier to do that, than to bail and have to swim for it.

Do you feel like your marriage is starting to drift? Which of the above “anchors” do you most need to introduce or strengthen? Can you think of something else that would help to keep your marriage from drifting? Leave a comment and tell us what anchors help to keep your marriage from drifting. 

Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg

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