Imagine planning a cross-country road trip with the goal of seeing as much of America’s natural beauty as possible. You and your spouse have budgeted and saved for the trip, you’ve scheduled the places to visit, and you’ve created the countdown of days until you launch out into the greatest family adventure ever known to man! The day of departure arrives and everyone jumps into the car. The sound of seatbelts clicking into place fills the vehicle, and the youngest claps her hands. Finally! The long anticipated road trip begins. There remains one final step before proceeding down the highway toward an ongoing delight filled with oooh’s and aaah’s as you discover America’s beauty from mountain tops and valleys low. You have to put the car into Drive.
In the same way that a car in Park doesn’t carry its passengers to their exciting destinations, so a neglected marriage fails to deliver. All the planning and anticipating is fruitless without forward motion, and the same is true in our marriages. We go even a step further in understanding there actually is no Park in marriage. We’re either in Drive, or we’re drifting apart like a car in Neutral on an incline.
The one who senses the marriage is in neglect becomes the driver at the wheel. He or she puts the marriage into Drive with the decision to not ignore the pending crisis. We falter at this pivotal moment when we put the demand on the other to move us into Drive. We dig in our heels and say, “Well, if he isn’t going to make any changes, then I’m sure not going out of my way to try.” It is here that backward motion picks up speed.
The most practical and beneficial thing to do to get your marriage into Drive is to forgive. Forgive again, if necessary. And again. Marriages that enjoy continual growth are those with an ongoing practice of forgiveness. Enduring love keeps no record of wrong. Sure, the pain may continue to serve as a reminder, but a desire to keep your heart supple before the Lord assures your coming through the trial healed and strong. At the same time, do not doubt God’s power to supernaturally remove the root of offense from you and grant you emotional healing in an instant. It happens!
Remember that love is what you give, not get, so you put your marriage into Drive every time you intentionally serve your spouse in a way that communicates love and devotion. Is there a special dish you make that he loves? Cook that on a night you put the kids to bed early and create a romantic date at home.
- Write that love letter.
- Give a total body massage.
- Call your in-laws just to brag on their son and his most recent accomplishment.
- Learn more detail about a hobby or interest he has and schedule time to engage in it together.
- Help him with weekend chores.
- Ask if there is any task you can do in the upcoming week for him that may lighten his load.
Do you want to expedite your progress in marriage? Assign a day each week to lift up your spouse in prayer to the Father. Pray at all times for your spouse, but also consider a day specifically devoted to praying for his needs. Use your time in the Word of God to prophetically declare over him the eternal truths. And, pray with your husband, because we know that couples who view their relationship beyond repair have never cited too much prayer for one another as the culprit!
Putting your marriage into Drive may require more than the suggested forgiveness, demonstrations of selfless love, and prayer. Perhaps there are some deeply rooted issues that you both carried into marriage, and the complexity of living in relationship has compounded the unresolved matters that need attention. There is no shame in seeking outside counsel for a season of restoration. Couple-to-couple mentoring is often satisfied within the church family, but there are Christian family counselors also ready to provide a safe place for exposing hurts and receiving healing. And don’t give up the idea of professional counseling if the first appointment did not prove to be a good fit. Every psychologist has his unique personality, so you may need to give it time to find the right one for you.
Ready to move ahead into all the anticipated delight you planned for, saved up for, and counted down the days for when you planned your wedding? Put your marriage into Drive.
Article Written By: Renee Beamer