We minister to about 100 struggling couples a year in our Marriage Hub Intensives. People often ask me what is the number one problem you see in marriages? Many think it is communication…or the inability to resolve conflicts…or the lack of forgiveness…and those are some real biggies.
But I have come to the conclusion that one of the most common and deepest hurts in marriage stems from the fact that both husbands and wives do not feel like they are each other’s number one priority. They don’t feel like they are the most important or special person in their spouse’s life.
Let’s be honest. We live in a world filled with distractions. Keeping our spouses the number one priority in our lives is a challenge. All kinds of people, places and things are battling for our undivided attention.
We have kids with their school and other activities schedules. We have our jobs and all of those responsibilities. We have extended family. We have church obligations. We have hobbies. We have houses, yards, cars and all our other toys to maintain. And then, there are those pesky technology and TV screens that are sucking our time away into some mysterious black hole.
What’s the secret to keeping each other your top priority? The answer is one word: intentionality. You have to make a concerted effort to ward off these competitors for your time and attention. Here are some good questions to see how you’re doing:
- Are our parents, or other family members, intruding into our marriage?
- Do we seek our emotional support from anyone other than our spouse?
- Do we have a couple-centered or child-centered marriage?
- How is our work intruding into our relationship?
- Do we have any habits, hobbies or leisure activities that are becoming too much of a priority?
- How is our involvement in church or ministry activities impacting our time together?
- Do we have a scheduled time to intentionally connect with each other on a daily basis?
- Are we investing more time and energy into other friendships than we are into our marriage?
- The most difficult question becomes the one we ask our spouse. Do you feel like you are my number one priority? If not, what do you see as the biggest intruders in my life?
- Then ask yourself the most important question: Are these things that are usurping the priority of my spouse worth losing my marriage over?
Genesis 2 ends with a very familiar phrase to most of us. "For this reason a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife." That powerful phrase tells us that we are to leave all of the things that will keep us from making and keeping our spouse our number one priority.
So if you have let your spouse slip in his or her priority spot, make the decision today that you are going to begin to create some healthy boundaries for your marriage.