It is a great tragedy when husbands and wives claim to love each other and then live their lives almost totally separate from one another! He has his interests which consume his time and energy, and she has hers. But they are not the same interests! It destroys one of the primary purposes of marriage. It can also easily lead to immorality.
We have known so many couples who do not sit together in church; who rarely go places together or spend recreational time together. He has “buddies” that he hangs out with. She has her “girls.” It seems that they have agreed to simply live a large chunk of their lives separately and independently from each other–and they perceive it to be good and normal!
But let’s stop and consider for a few minutes why God created the institution of marriage. Here’s a hugely important passage…
“31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV)
Married couples–in particular Christian married couples–should have a keen awareness that they represent to the world a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church!
When it comes to Christ and church, does “He go His way and she go hers?” Unthinkable!
Of course, as human beings, we are not omnipresent. So we cannot always be in each others physical presence. But when we have the opportunity to be together and choose to go our separate ways, it presents to the watching world a very poor picture of our relationship with Christ!
Sure, there are people who call themselves Christians who live their lives totally oblivious to the presence of Christ except for a brief devotion every now and then, or maybe a worship service. But, of course, true Christians realize their dependence upon Christ and their close intimate relationship with Him at all times–at school, work, home, church, shopping, play, etc. Not only that, if we truly are married to Christ, we long for His companionship, we constantly desire His leadership and His wisdom and His close presence as we live out our lives.
Couples will often say, “But we are just not interested in the same things. He likes cars. I like shopping. She likes cooking. I like ball games.”
Let me be blunt. There is a great deal of self-centeredness and laziness in that statement!
The truth is, there are hundreds, even thousands, of things that husbands and wives can do together. Many of them will not be enjoyed by the husband. Many will not be enjoyed by the wife. But on such a huge list, there will be many things that BOTH enjoy!
The terrible mistake that we see so many couples making is the husband doing things that he enjoys but she doesn’t enjoy and the wife doing things that she enjoys and that he doesn’t enjoy. When there are many activities in life that they would both enjoy and that would serve to bring them closer together as husband and wife–as well as providing a more perfect picture to the world of what our relationship to our Lord Jesus Christ is to be like!
So the self-centeredness comes in when a spouse doesn’t really care whether the other spouse enjoys the activity or not. He/she just wants to do what he/she wants to do when he/she wants to do it, leaving the other spouse “on their own.”
The laziness comes in because the couple isn’t willing to spend a little time and energy to compile a list of the things they might enjoy doing together.
If he likes football and she hates it–or if she like shopping and he hates it–but they both enjoy hiking or playing board games or reading aloud to each other… Well, I’m sure you get the idea. It’s time to reallocate some of the hours of our days!
The Adultery Factor
One other ugly factor that should not be lightly dismissed. The Bible is full of warnings from God to His people about the dangers of spiritual adultery. If we do not stay close to Him, we are in mortal danger of being attracted to other “gods.” God makes it clear that He is a jealous God. We must stay “glued” to Him! There are many enticing things in the world that will serve to drive a wedge between us and God!
The same happens in our marriages. It is so sadly common for a spouse to be attracted to someone else’s husband or wife because they are spending too much time with them instead of their own spouse! One reason adultery is so rampant in our society is because husbands and wives are spending their free time apart from each other instead of doing things together that they both might really enjoy–things that would bind them closer together as a couple!
As husband and wife, sit down and read this together. Take out a piece of paper and a pencil. Write down things you both enjoy doing together. Keep the list handy. Add to it from time to time. If you need a jump start in forming a list, you might find Willard Harley’s “Recreational Enjoyment Inventory” to be of great help. You can see it here…
Then both of you are going to have to start saying “Sorry, not this time!” to invitations to spend time with others away from your spouse. It’s very freeing to say, “I’ve got another commitment!” And what could be a higher priority commitment than spending time building your relationship with your spouse?
As married couples why don’t we set a goal? A goal that younger couples will look at our marriage and say, “They are a good picture of the relationship between Christ and the church! Their marriage is what marriage is supposed to be! I want my marriage to be like theirs!”
Many marriages have serious problems that the mere act of spending time together will not solve. Vickie and I highly recommend the Marriage Builders Web site (by Dr. Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs) as a great starting place for people who are serious about solving those problems and making their marriages powerful and wonderful models. There is a ton of great help on that web site, good for many hours of reading and study and application!