“The more you invest in a marriage the more favorable it becomes” – author unknown.
Love is displayed through attentiveness. This is one reason our hearts can be glad in Christ; He has made clear to us the attentive nature of God. God has an infinite capacity for attentiveness. For example, consider Psalm 147:4: “He counts the stars and calls them all by name.” We can marvel at God’s awareness of all that is happening in the universe, but this verse describes something deeper. God doesn’t just keep an inventory of the stars, He determines how many will exist and names each one. That’s unrivaled attention to detail. As humans, we cannot match God’s capacity, but we can imitate Him—in this case—by being attentive to those we love.
A pretty good blueprint for being attentive to our spouse is found in Colossians 3:12-14. “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.“
If you get nothing else, get this. You don’t get much credit for going through the motions or doing the bare minimum. Nothing is likely to improve if you spend a few minutes now and again just for show, so you can check that off as being addressed. Marriages, in fact, all relationships, will not grow deeper or richer on minimal efforts and on tidbits and leftovers. Eventually, a successful marriage requires more. We should expect more as husband and wife. It’s too easy to give our best time and energy away to everyone and everything else, other than the one you vowed before God to “love, honor, and cherish” for the rest of your lives together.
Take a few moments and do a constructive evaluation of your attentive effort or your lack of effort. This is difficult to measure and not nearly as obvious as other marital challenges. There are exceptions to be sure, but many of us will assume that the relationship is going along just fine. It just doesn’t require as much effort because we have been married for several years and have settled into a routine that doesn’t require as much effort or as much romanticism. That’s a more businesslike way of saying that we take our spouse and our obligations to him or her for granted.
Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to become world class at something. I have no idea if that number is valid, but I do know the more time we spend doing something the better, the more quality, we get at it.
Practice investing time in your spouse. Learn to spend time and to make the time count for something. A marriage relationship cannot thrive if our contact with one another is limited to a quick bite of supper or a brief chat before bed. A good marriage requires serious commitment and hard work.
- Is your attention to your marriage good or does it need improvement?
- What can we do this week to increase our level of attention and intentionality in your marriage?