If you’re like most couples, you launched into marriage as if it were a magic carpet ride to paradise. You were in love, deeply in love. Your wedding was tearful, joyful, tender, and touching.
Then came the honeymoon. Wow! How could two people be more in love than you were? Dreamy days and steamy nights, a week of romantic violins and sparkling fireworks. You didn’t ever want to go home.
Once you settled into your first home, you brought the honeymoon with you. Parting in the morning to go to work was a real bummer, and coming home to each other every evening was the highlight of your day. Everything else took a backseat to the beautiful life you were forging together. Remember those days?
Where did it all go? At what point did the days of moonlight and flowers turn into weeks and months of tuna-noodle casseroles and falling asleep on the sofa watching Netflix?
Now, we’re not saying that the cow-eyed, heart-throbbing honeymoon couple you used to be has mutated into a pair of fuddy-duddies who never have any fun. But you must 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. Let’s face it: We would probably blow a gasket keeping up that pace for a lifetime! But this doesn’t mean you must remain the victim of the status quo, that you must settle for a relationship that is 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 are simply maintaining, that you have settled into a groove and are just rolling along at a functional pace. Your marriage may be good, but is it getting any better? You may still be going together, but are you growing together? You need to guard your marriage against just being good enough.
There is a subtle danger in just cruising through marriage. Unlike a car on cruise control, marriages cannot just maintain constant speed. If your relationship isn’t growing deeper, it is 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.
If you are not guarding your marriage by purposefully nurturing growth and dealing with thorny problems as they spring up, you will soon find your relationship withering. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course. Rather, good-enough marriages atrophy 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 is not constantly and purposefully reenergized.
“Hey, no marriage is perfect,” you may say. You’re absolutely correct. But that doesn’t mean your marriage can’t get better and stronger and more fulfilling as the years go by, no matter how many miles you have logged together. We encourage you to practice guarding love in your relationship.
So, what can you do to get your relationship off cruise control and rekindle your marriage dream? Here are a few suggestions to try or adapt:
Do something different just to snap yourselves out of the status quo. For some ideas, see our book 40 Unforgettable Dates With Your Mate.
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 share a pleasant childhood memory; a dream vacation you would like to take with him or her some day; or 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.
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.