Do you love your spouse more than anything else in the world? Or, do you find yourself loving things, your kids, your job, or your hobbies more than your spouse? Marriage is the centerpiece of the family. Research has shown time and again that a strong marriage has immense, innumerable benefits for the kids, community, and society.
But no matter how much ‘in love’ you are when you first get married, other things (some of them really good things!) will eventually compete for your time and affection. Putting your spouse first needs to become a habit in your marriage. Here are some ways you might be loving things, kids, career, or friends more than your spouse and what to do about them.
1. You willingly spend time with things, kids, co-workers, or friends but have to be coerced or bribed into spending time with your spouse.
Making time with your spouse has to be a priority. If you find yourself spending inordinate amounts of time with other things or people, talk with your spouse about it. Commit to regular time together, even at the expense of others at times. It doesn’t have to be a perfect 50/50 balance, but it has to be a priority.
2. You jump at the chance to meet the emergency needs of your things, kids, co-workers, or friends, but leave your spouse to fend for themselves.
It’s great to be a hero at work, with your kids, and elsewhere. But being a hero to your spouse is probably more important for the long-term health of your family. Look for opportunities to help your spouse with what they need, when they need it.
3. You light up around your things, kids, co-workers, or friends, and shut down with your spouse.
This could be an indication that your heart finds more joy in others than in your spouse. Even if that’s not true, that is likely what is coming across. Look for spontaneous opportunities to show your spouse, your kids, and others that your spouse delights you.
4. You spend your discretionary time and money on your things, kids, co-workers, or friends, and little to nothing on your spouse.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” is an important truth spoken by God. The idea is that what we spend on and invest in reflects what is most important to us. You don’t have to spend lavishly on your spouse just to prove your love, but you need to challenge yourself to invest generously in and on your spouse, even at the expense of others or yourself.
5. You feel a greater sense of accomplishment through your things, kids, career, and friendships than you do through your marriage.
Having a great marriage that lasts is a great accomplishment, but it may not be seen by others as any big deal. If you don’t feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your marriage, reevaluate the value of your marriage. Think of all the good in your marriage, and treasure it. Your marriage may be better than you think.
6. You pursue adventures and take risks for your things, kids, co-workers or friends, but not for your marriage.
A marriage often feels more adventurous in the beginning than it does down the road. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Look at your marriage with your spouse some night and talk about how your goals and dreams have shifted from the early days. Identify some areas where you want to take risks or pursue adventures together, and go for it.
7. You invest in fixing things or fixing problems with your kids, co-workers, or friends, but you invest little in fixing your marriage.
If your car’s engine is knocking, you get a mechanic to check it out. If Internet access, the satellite or cable goes down, you get on it and spend the time needed to get it back up and running. Likewise, when you sense brokenness in your marriage, you need to be willing to do what it takes to address the problem, to make repairs. That may mean considering counseling, seeking a mentor, or other voices to help.
8. You have nothing left in time, energy, or affection for your spouse after dealing with your things, kids, co-workers, or friends.
When you hear your spouse say, “You have nothing left for me,” take that as a major red flag. This is often a cumulative cry for help. Be encouraged that your spouse cares enough to tell you this and be willing to hear them out without being defensive. None of these signs is automatically fatal to a marriage, but they should be taken seriously. The time to talk about this with your spouse is now.
What are some other signs you’ve seen in marriages that indicate that a spouse’s affections are not as focused on the marriage as they should be? Please share your comments.