Q: My wife and I have been married for 11 years, and though we still love each other, our relationship has grown stale. What can we do to put the magic back into our marriage?
A: When most couples vow “for better or worse,” in the starry-eyed magic of the moment they can only imagine their lives together getting better and better. New parents take one long, deep look into the eyes of their baby and vow to never hurt or disappoint the child. Children promise to stay best friends forever. Doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, volunteers, and others dedicate their lives to serving others. It’s love–that superglue of families, friendships, and every other good thing–that inspires such commitment. Why, then, do married couples squabble? Why do parents nag, belittle, and get impatient? Why do friends drift apart? Why does the inspiration to selflessly serve others wane?
As time passes, we become so familiar with the people we are closest to that we stop valuing and treating them like we should. The wear and tear of daily living takes its toll, and the bright newness of once-treasured relationships begins to fade. Up close and personal, everyone’s flaws and wrinkles begin to show. Routines become ruts. Our once-prized blessings begin to weigh on us.
When that happens, it’s time to reverse the trend. That will take a conscious effort and may not be easy, especially if the problem has been going on for some time, but it can be done. Count your blessings. Remind yourself of all the things about the other person that drew you to them in the first place. Then put yourself in their position and ask the same question. The quickest and surest way to return the shine to any tarnished relationship is to polish your own good qualities. Get busy being the person you set out to be at the start, and the other party will almost certainly follow suit.
And remember, God specializes in fresh starts. “If anyone is in Christ,” the Bible tells us, “he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). That’s a promise about salvation, but it’s also a promise for everyday living. God will revitalize and renew any relationship if we ask Him to start with us.