By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
I’m receiving an increasing number of calls from couples choosing to live separately while in the same house.
How can this be, you ask? How is it possible to be married, yet sleep in separate bedrooms and stop all forms of physical intimacy?
While initially critical of this arrangement, I’ve since learned that many couples are choosing these conditions. Please don’t misunderstand, they are not happy. They are not content and don’t like that their marriage is stuck in neutral, not moving forward and seemingly not moving backwards either.
“My wife has been angry with me for years,” one man said to me recently. “She stopped telling me she loved me and has even asked me to leave several times, which I did.”
“What is going on with your marriage?” I asked.
“We don’t really have a marriage,” he said. “We stayed together for the kids and now that they are grown, we still live separate lives.”
This man continued sharing his story, one of separateness, distance, and low-grade resentment. He shared how not only was he angry with his wife but she was equally angry with him.
I was reminded of the prophet Amos who said, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3) What happens to the couple who refuse to walk together and yet remain married, at least on paper?
As you might imagine, a marriage cannot really remain in neutral. A couple cannot coast and not incur damage. In this instance, not only were the man and woman both growing in resentment, but had come perilously close to having literal affairs. Both had made “acquaintances” on Facebook and called me in a “last ditch effort to save our marriage.”
As you can see and imagine, this couple, and couples like them, are in trouble. While they may deny or minimize their trouble, they are in danger nonetheless.
What should this couple do? What should you do if you are in a marriage that is coasting along? Here are some things to consider:
First, no couple really coasts. It is a fallacy to believe you can coast in marriage. This is absolutely incorrect. You are either growing and getting stronger, or you are slipping back, losing ground. Marriage takes work and positive momentum to remain strong. If you cannot honestly say your marriage is vibrant and strong, then it is in danger.
Second, take stock of the danger you are really in. If you are in danger, be honest about the danger you are in. Be candid with your mate and admit to the state of your marriage. Talk to your pastor or professional counselor and get an honest perspective about the condition of your marriage. Don’t be ashamed to admit you are in trouble.
Third, consider an intervention. Change is not possible without an intervention. With an intervention, anything is possible. While you may be discouraged, don’t lose heart. With professional help you, can break out of old habits and begin new ones.
Fourth, agree to repair your marriage. Positive momentum is just as possible as negative momentum. Once you’ve started to make progress, you can make big changes. God will help you in your desires to have a healthy marriage. Set specific goals and hold each other accountable for positive change.
Finally, follow through on proposed changes. Progress is begun one small step at a time. Make the decision today that you will no longer accept distance and mediocrity in your marriage. Honestly facing the prospect that your marriage is in danger, set your course for positive change. With the right help, you can do it. You can have the marriage you once had and enjoy the vibrancy you were intended to have in marriage.
Are you coasting in your marriage? Have you lost the excitement you once had for your mate? If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives as well as our newly formed Subscription Group, Thrive, for women struggling from emotional abuse.