After 12 years of marriage Sam and Kathy sit at a resturant with hardly a word crossing their lips.
Kathy plays with her salad and shifts in the hard seat.
Sam checks his phone and replies to a text message.
When he sets his phone down Kathy mentions that Tommy, their 10 year old son, has a ball game that Saturday. Sam asks when, and then checks his phone to see his calendar.
They go back to silence as the main dish is served.
Kathy wonders, "How did we get here? This man is a stranger."
Most evenings at home Sam and Kathy hardly talk, so this "date night" isn't that different. Sex is pretty infrequent, maybe 1 time every other month. They watch TV when they eat dinner and most nights they are running one of their 3 children to a sporting, school, or church event.
Their church friends have no idea that they are just living as roommates. Even some of Kathy's closest friends haven't gotten past the smile she puts on to know the loneliness she feels. Her heart aches. Secretly she is addicted to romance novels and soap operas. The fantasy land in her mind allows her to numb the pain and rejection she feels. But that pain goes back to high school when a boy she liked physically went too far with her...an event she's never shared with Sam.
Sam, well, he's pretty disconnected emotionally from the family. He figures he is the bread-winner, so he's providing for his family. Work is stressful, church commitments keep him busy, and he likes to play basketball on the weekends with his buddies from church. He figure he works all week and the weekends are "his" time. No one knows that he's lost really all interest in his wife. "Taking care of himself" is easier than connecting with Kathy, she never really liked to be physically intimate with him anyway...so he figures he's doing her a favor. His world pretty much revolves around him.
They both wonder privately, "How did we get here and how do we get back to where we were?"
(This story is NO ONE I know!!! Just patterns I've seen.)
Does this sound familiar?
When couples get married, they don't set out to be strangers 12 years down the road.
But they don't set out to be intentional in their marriage either!
So there's one mis-step...maybe a deep hurt that is never addressed, or a hidden secret that one is unwilling to share. It could be that children start to consume their time and they forget to take time for their marriage. Or maybe a childhood pain is "buried", but impacts the emotional well-being of one of them. It's easier to let TV, computers, ministry, friends, other activities, or work be more important than connecting with their mate. Or maybe there's some tension in the marriage that overtime becomes just an elephant in the room.
Whatever the mis-step, whatever the misunderstand, whatever the pain...the brick wall is built. Brick by brick the couple builds a tall, thick wall between them. They don't talk, they resent, they get mad, they seethe, they may try but don't understand each other...so they stop trying. They turn on "cruise control" thinking, "If we just stay busyness enough we don't have to deal with this marriage."
Then it's easier to just be self-focused so they don't tap into the pain they're causing. It's easier to stay disconnected than take energy to focus on their mate.
But does this resemble Christ and His Bride, the Church, at all!?
God created marriage to share the gospel, yet we've twisted marriage and the beauty of the covenant into a self-serving union. We look to be "happy" and to have our needs met. We've let satan sell us the lie that busyness is the norm. We don't remain teachable, so we get stuck in our pattern of treating each other as roommates and not as husband and wife.
These patterns I have seen have welled up in me a passion so deep...a passion for God-honoring, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-filled marriages where the husband and wife are serving one another selflessly. A marriage that screams the gospel to all who come in contact with this couple!
A marriage that thrives requires revived hearts to be directed under the mighty hand of God, where there is no thought of self, only the promotion of the gospel!
The man would be the servant leader in his home, willing to be teachable and be 100% emotionally and spiritually plugged into his wife and kids. Where his number 1 goal is to protect and provide, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. His thought life is pure and there is not a hint of immorality. He lives with no hidden sin and full of integrity!
The wife would willing serve her family selflessly, being the helpmate she was created to be. She would embrace biblical womanhood and the freedom that comes from that. She would know that she sets the emotional tone of her home, so she would be intentional to work through past pains and hurts, so she is emotionally free to lavish love on her family. She is a life giver to all she comes in contact with.
If more non-believers saw these types of marriages...the more hands-on the gospel would seem! But when they see no difference, what is the need for a Savior?