We see couples all of the time in our intensive room whose marriages are suffering from a fatal illness. Couple complacency is a progressive disease that leads to loneliness, bitterness, and indifference; which if left untreated will often lead to a slow and painful death of a marriage.
Because it spreads so subtly, many couples don’t really notice the deterioration of their marriages until it’s too late. That’s why the second most vulnerable time for divorce is during the empty nest season of life.
So what’s the cure to couple complacency? It’s working to keep the loving actions and feelings alive in your marriage. Hey…you may not feel as goo-goo eyed as you did when you first met but that does not mean that love has died. It simply means that it has changed. What IS true is that when we start doing loving things for each other, the loving feelings seem to reappear. So let’s look at a couple ways you can fight off the negative effects of couple complacency.
Make the choice to keep studying your spouse. It doesn’t take us long to think that we know all there is to know about our spouse. But we need to remember…the person you married is not the same person he or she was when you met them. Neither are you!! So while you may think you know all there is to know, there’s probably a lot of new things to discover if you make the effort and have the courage to explore.
Work to bring back the magic. Remember the things you did that won your spouse’s heart in the first place? You’ve still got them in you if you dig deep enough. Think about the things you did that made your spouse’s day. Was she a “words girl”? Then compliment her. Did she like flowers? Spend an extra ten minutes and ten dollars to buy her a bouquet on the way home. Did he love it when you snuggled up close? Forget folding the laundry, and sit down on the sofa and snuggle with him again.
The struggle is that many of these gestures take time and energy…and these are scarce commodities for actively parenting and working couples to find. It took time and effort to win our spouse’s heart. It will take the same to keep holding onto it.
Start dating again. It’s too easy to just go out to dinner and sit there looking at your plates. Think back to your fun dates…what did you do? Walk and talk. Play. Take a ride to your favorite ice cream place playing your oldies on the radio. Bring back some of those fun memories of your dating days.The ultimate cure for couple complacency is active intentionality. So, if you are starting to feel the symptoms of mutual co-existence, make the deliberate choice together as a couple to begin working to pursue each other. You can not only produce a marriage that will bring you comfort and pleasure, it will also leave your children a legacy to follow.