If you’re like most couples, you launched into marriage as if it were a magic carpet ride to paradise. You were deeply in love and your wedding was a dream come true. Then came the honeymoon that you wished would never end! And when you moved into your first place together, you brought the honeymoon with you, right? You couldn’t keep your hands off each other!
But then, like most couples, that ecstasy started to fade and moonlight and flowers turned into tuna-noodle casserole and falling asleep watching Jeopardy. Now, we’re not saying that the honeymoon couple you used to be has mutated into a pair of fuddy-duddies who never have any fun. But you’ve got to admit that, as the miles have rolled up on the odometer of your marriage, some of the chrome has lost its shine and the engine coughs now and then. Whereas your married life came off the starting line with the excitement of a sports car accelerating through hairpin turns, you have more or less settled into a freeway existence on cruise control.
In reality, the intensity and ecstasy of the honeymoon never lasts for any of us. It wasn’t meant to. But that doesn’t mean you have to remain the victim of the status quo, or that you have to settle for a relationship that’s good enough—but not as good as it could be.
Cruise control may be alright for your Buick, but it’s not alright for your marriage. Cruise control means that you’re simply maintaining, that you have settled into a groove and are just rolling along at a functional—but not very exciting—55 miles an hour until Jesus comes. Your marriage may be good, but is it getting better? You may still be going together, but are you growing together? You need to guard your marriage against just being “good enough.”
And here’s the thing, folks: There is a subtle danger in just cruising through marriage. Unlike a car on cruise control, marriages can’t just maintain a constant speed. If your relationship isn’t growing deeper, it’s growing more vulnerable to relational disconnect, discord, and even emotional divorce. And that’s just what God’s archenemy wants. Satan is out to rob you of the vitality and success God has in store for your marriage. And one of the ways he can take you out is by convincing you to settle for a “good-enough” marriage – to give up hoping and praying and working for everything God can make your marriage to be.
In Proverbs 24, Solomon warns against laziness. He offers the illustration of a slacker who is more interested in sleeping in every morning and taking siestas in the afternoon than in keeping the weeds out of his crops. Eventually the weeds take over, and his life as a profitable farmer is history.
The principle applies to many areas, including marriage. If you’re not guarding your marriage by nurturing growth and dealing with problems as they spring up, you’ll quickly find your relationship withering. It doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, good-enough marriages shrivel over the years due to laziness and lack of effort. A marriage that seems healthy today can slowly and almost imperceptibly drift toward divorce over a period of years if it’s not constantly and purposefully reenergized.
You may say, “Hey, no marriage is perfect,” and you’d be right. But that doesn’t mean your marriage can’t get better andstronger and more fulfilling as the years go by—no matter how many miles you’ve logged together. It takes effort and energy, purpose and planning, time and tenacity. But the first step to a great marriage is deciding not to settle for good enough.
If you’re concerned that your marriage may be stuck on cruise control, ask yourself these questions:
- In what ways has your marriage relationship slipped into cruise control?
- How might you have conveyed to your spouse the attitude that your marriage is “good the way it is”?
- How many books on Christian marriage have you read in the last month? The last year?
- What else have you done to grow as a husband or wife?
- When was the last time you went away together for a day or two to talk and pray about your marriage, close the loop on any offenses between you, set goals for yourselves as a couple, and just have fun together?
So, here’s the drill. Take the initiative this week to get your relationship off cruise control and rekindle your marriage dream. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Do something different just to snap yourselves out of the status quo. For some ideas, see our book 40 Unforgettable Dates With Your Mate. It contains more than two hundred stimulating questions to prompt marital communication, 40 date ideas, and great ways to meet the love needs of your spouse.
- Take your spouse to a restaurant you have never visited before, or prepare a meal that has never been on your menu before.
- Sit down with your spouse after the kids are in bed and say, “I want to tell you something about myself, something that you probably don’t know.” Then share a pleasant childhood memory; a dream vacation you would like to take with him or her someday; a genuine, original, never-before-shared compliment for your spouse. Ask your spouse to share a memory or dream you have never heard before, then listen with interest.
- Ask, “What pleasurable event or experience from our past can we try to experience again?” Make plans to relive that experience.
Remember, the first step to a great marriage is deciding not to settle for just “good enough!”