Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Drift

For those of us in the northeastern part of the US when we hear the word drift it is often associated with snow. Drifting usually occurs when a wind blows accumulated snow into a pile. Such piles tend to make life somewhat more difficult. They are heavier to shovel and they often seem to block places you want to get to.

Drifting in marriage has some things in common with snow drifts. It is as though a cold wind blows across your marriage. It tends to push one or both partners in a direction they would just as soon not go. It makes life more difficult because neither partner is happy when this occurs. And marriage drift certainly prevents couples from getting to their place in a marriage where they experience the joy that God intended.

So what causes the cold winds to blow across a marriage? There is no simple answer but certainly neglect is one of the culprits. Other possible causes of drift include - the kids take too much time and energy; work is stressful and demanding and often requires long hours; expectations while unspoken have gone unmet; the emotional void that your spouse was supposed to fill has gone unfilled; your perceived needs have gone unmet; and there seems to be little time for any meaningful conversation.

If your relationship has evolved into a living arrangement rather than a marriage because of drifting apart there is good news and not so good news. The not so good news is that if the drift is not addressed it could easily lead to an affair, pornography or some other undesirable channel for one or both partners. At the very least you will have marital d├ętente; with neither partner feeling fulfilled much less bringing glory to God.

The good news is that if caught early enough where both partners still care deeply about the other the drift can be melted. A commitment to the covenantal relationship is a beginning, i.e. we are in this for life with no exit strategy. Some behavioral techniques could be helpful, particularly if the drift is not too high. Such things as setting regular date nights; begin praying together; arrange for structured, planned times to talk together; and reading Christian marriage books together, i.e. Paul Tripp’s What Did You Expect?, are some of the activities that will begin the thaw.

For a more permanent solution there needs to be a heart change. The vertical connection of both partners needs to increase, i.e. they need to reach out to God, put Christ at the center of their marriage and the couple needs to accept the fact that the purpose for marriage is to glorify God. As each partner begins to spend more time with the Lord in prayer and more time with Him in His Word the heart will begin to change. Having Godly accountability partners can also help.

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