When a romantic relationship is starting out, what gets things going are fun dates and making memories combined with butterflies of infatuation.
If the dating relationship leads to an eventual marriage, fun dates and making memories take a back seat to working a job, stressing over bills, running errands daily, tending to kids constantly and trying to not be taken down by the constant piles of laundry
The norm of many marriages is that dating fades away when marriage begins.
I’m under the conviction that dating can become evenbetter after marriage begins.
(To clarify, I’m not talking about dating like a fancy night out with your spouse. Dating is pursuing the love of your life each day, getting to know them, learning to serve them).
As a Christian I’m also under the firm conviction that God is the one who infuses a marriage to be the amazing relationship it’s intended to be.
God can make your heart full of joy even when there is disappoint in the marriage.
God can give you discernment even when there is confusion in the marriage.
God can give you a grateful heart that finds something in the marriage to be thankful for when there is complaining and arguing.
Our culture is full of people whose lives seem plentiful when in reality there is so much lacking.
They have money, possessions, basic needs more than met, trips, hobbies and countless friends on social media.
What they are lacking is a quality relationship of love, unity and peace – a relationship best found in Jesus first and a spouse second.
Each spouse should examine where they are at in one of the three types of marriages:
(1) A Shoulder-to-Shoulder Marriage
In a shoulder-to-shoulder marriage, the couple looks together. In fact, they accomplish much (individually). They have an outlook on the world that is ambitious and they get a lot done.
The problem is, while they are getting a lot done (at work, with the kids, with a hobby, serving in the church), they aren’t soulmates living life together. They’re roommates living life apart.
A shoulder-to-shoulder relationship shows the person you’re with that you care more about where your day is headed personally than where your relationship is headed together.
This type of relationship is selfish.
(2) A Back-to-Back Marriage
This is when the marriage reaches a dry season of either arguing frequently over a deep-seated issue or even more serious where there is little hope going forward.
Instead of dealing with the issue face-on together and admitting fault humbly with a strong will and accountable plan to improve, the main issue neglects to get dealt with.
A back-to-back relationship shows the person you’re with that the best version they fell in love with was the person you were while dating before marriage as you regress in character and commitment when it comes to improving the relationship.
This type of relationship has settled.
(3) A Face-to-Face Marriage
These people can’t get enough of their spouse when they stop to think about how grateful they should be. They are consistently pouring encouragement and question-asking into the person they promised their vows to.
A face-to-face couple prioritizes date nights (no matter how old they are or how old the kids are).
A face-to-face couple intentionally thinks, How can I thank them for making me a better person and what areas can I help assist them become a better person?
This type of relationship is sacrificial.
This type of ideal marriage doesn’t just appreciate the other with eyes of hearts since the euphoric feelings of romance are perpetual. But, even in times of disagreement and let down, a face-to-face marriage doesn’t ignore each other in life, nor do they combat each other when there’s an argument. Instead, they remain face-to-face (not yelling), but continuing to work on the marriage to the point of love, unity and peace.
Here are three pieces of advice to have a face-to-face marriage if you find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder or back-to-back.
STEP ONE: Learn to enjoy being with one another more than you enjoy what you are doing apart from one another
Choose the relationship over personal goals, work/task responsibilities and interests. Be aware of what you prioritize in your heart, schedule, excitement and dreams.
STEP TWO: Learn how to quickly and gently put water on a relational fire (rather than gas).
Choose humility, pray for patience, pursue forgiveness rather than grudge holding and anger.
STEP THREE: Work intentionally at what cultural values you both want in the marriage while seeking the guidance of other godly married couples.
Think about how Hollywood shows a couple sleeping in the same bed together. Those who sleep back-to-back are assumed to be arguing. Those who sleep shoulder-to-shoulder on their backs look fine when there could be so much more of an intimate, qualitative relationship.
When we see a couple sleeping face-to-face, holding each other, that’s what people yearn for when it comes to the closest human relationship one can have (I’m not saying you should sleep face-to-face with your spouse, I’m saying how it looks on the big screen is a close and intimate and that’s how it should look daily while awake with your spouse).
In your marriage, what is the issue you have been ignoring as you allow yourself to be distracted by your day (where are you shoulder-to-shoulder)?
In your marriage, what is the issue you have been continually arguing over that needs to be dealt with, killed and buried (where are you back-to-back)?
Finally, what married couples you know who have a face-to-face marriage and what can they teach you? Who are the couple with faith and joy and grace and abundant support and energy for the other?
And by the way, where are you with Jesus? Are you mad at Him (back-to-back), disinterested in Him and very interested in you (shoulder-to-shoulder) or are you pursuing Jesus as earnestly as you can (face-to-face).
Because we are His bride, He pursues (dates) us every day, and one day soon we will see Him face-to-face.
Thanks for reading, you are so loved!