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Article by Sheila Wray Gregoire:

Last week my husband and I were in Colorado, recording two shows for Focus on the Family. While there we decided to go hiking on some of the gorgeous trails around Colorado Springs.

We headed down to one in the middle of nowhere–Akin Canyon. It was a 4 mile loop, and we thought we’d give it a try. But as we started on the trail, it got harder and harder. Trees blocked our way. Rocks were everywhere. Sometimes we even had to climb through rocks to get to the trail!

After about a mile we gave up, retraced our steps–and found that we had missed the actual trail. We had gone off on a side trail that wasn’t really cared for. Once we found the real trail, all was easy going!
It’s a lot like that in marriage. If you get off track in the early days, it gets harder and harder to travel together. Things will trip you up or knock you on the head.


Marriage Mistake #3: Spending Your Leisure Time Goofing Off Alone

Before you were married you likely went out and did things. But now you’re married, and you don’t need to go out. So at night you tend to goof off. You go on your computer; he goes on his, or he plays video games. At first it’s fun – you have all this time to unwind! But soon you find that you’re not spending time together anymore or sharing experiences.

But if you say, “what do you want to do?”, he often doesn’t have an answer. So you retreat back onto your screens. Then, when kids come, it gets even harder to carve out time for each other, and soon your lives revolve around children and not around each other.

Marriage Mastery: Create a habit of “connecting time” when you share with each other, even if it’s just for twenty minutes a day. Go for a walk after dinner; play some 2-player board games every night; just do something on a daily basis. It doesn’t need to take the whole evening, but schedule time to connect into your day.

Marriage Mistake #4: Not Going to Bed at the Same Time

Night time, as you’re getting ready for bed, is the perfect time to catch up about your day, figure out what’s happening tomorrow, snuggle and talk about your dreams or concerns, pray together, and, of course, make love with your husband!

But if you don’t head to bed together, you’ll miss out on those natural times to connect. And soon you’ll start feeling much more distant. You’ll feel as if you’re living separate lives, under the same roof.

Marriage Mastery: Unless shift work is involved, create a bedtime routine when you both head to bed together, without computers, TVs, or screens. Make the last thing that you do everyday together cuddling with each other.

Marriage Mistake #5: Not Talking About Things that Bother You

Maybe you don’t want to rock the boat. Maybe you have this idea that a good marriage doesn’t have conflict, so you’d rather keep the peace. Maybe you’re just embarrassed and you don’t know how to address something that’s bugging you.

If we don’t talk about the things that bother us, we build up walls. Over time, those walls get bigger and bigger, and then it’s even harder to dismantle them. So whether it’s that sex doesn’t feel very good for you and you’d like to figure that out; you want more help around the house; you feel lonely when he goes out with friends – talk about it! Don’t bottle it up; it will lead to more contempt (see #2, above).

And here’s something else: Ask for help. If there’s something you want your husband to do, then ask him. “Can we spend more time on foreplay, because I feel rushed during sex.” “Do you mind doing the dishes?” “I’ll get the trash ready, but can you take it out to the curb?” He’s not a mind reader, and he doesn’t know what you want. And especially when it comes to sex, guys often appreciate knowing what you’re thinking.

Marriage Mastery: In those times when you catch up everyday, mention the things that are bothering you. Own your feelings–“I feel lonely when…”, not “you make me lonely when…” Problem solve together. When you keep short accounts with each other, you learn how to deal with conflict well. That puts you in good standing for a long life together!
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