This marital trap comes when our priorities get out of line. This normally happens in the subtlest of ways. Usually we have our priorities straight then along comes some pressure: A project at work. Then the focus shifts from home to the job for this project.
So a man picks up the pace and runs a little faster with the intention of accomplishing this project then turning back to his family but the problem is we conquer this project and there is no STOP sign telling us to slow down.
So we continue running at the same internal rate not realizing that we missed a turn somewhere. Then we wake up one day, long down the road and realize Oops, I left my family out.
The same thing happens to women often with children. The children become sick or need some extra help with school. Mom joins the PTA, becomes a soccer Mom and sets her priorities aside to be a good mother. It's the same thing any mother would do but soon the sole focus becomes the children and Mom forgets to slow down and re-insert her husband into the picture. Soon the marriage drifts and Mom and Dad no longer have a relationship together only their kids between them.
Sometimes we try to find self worth in the wrong places. We go to work and their is a relationship where another person values you because of your hard work or your expertise and we get the affirmation from him or her that we don't get at home from our spouse. Not necessarily an affair but you are having a connection with that person because they are filling a void in your life. When this happens, we no longer expect or pursue that feeling from our spouse.
Here's the cure:
We have the grace to embrace our place.
Many times we rise to a challenge, conquer it, and then look for a new challenge often at the expense of our family and marriage.
We have to be man enough to know our place. We have to value our marriage and family over affirmation at work and over socio-economic status.
I talk with some investors who sole purpose in life is to collect toys. Cars, motorcycles, gadgets, the party lifestyle. They brag and show pictures of this lifestyle and many people are attracted to it. It's easy to get sucked into this trap especially with all the media promoting it.
We have to accept the place and role we currently hold and make the best of it in the now.
I'm very guilty of this as I am always planning and looking towards the future, it is very easy for me to forget the now and solely focus on my future.
We also have to guard our heart.
I had a colleague at work who liked to play chess at night with someone of the opposite sex instead of being at home with his family and he couldn't see anything wrong with it. He didn't understand it was wrong until I talked with him.
Transference is a very easy trap to fall into and I have personally seen many marriages ruined because of it.
Proverbs 4:23 says "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
You can be friends with people of the opposite sex but your spouse should be your best friend and closest confidant.
Finally, we have to live our lives on purpose.
Most people take whatever life gives them and they are simply content to not be harassed. They choose security and comfort over Significance and Greatness.
You have to know where you're going. Especially in your marriage. Do we sit down and talk with our spouse and plan where we want to be in 5 or 10 years or do we just let the chips fall where they lay?
You can have romance and intimacy at 5,10,15,20 and even 50 Years of marriage if that is your goal. Marriage is about being a team and setting goals and milestones together.
You also have to live by biblical priorities.
Number one should be God and I do not mean church or church functions, I mean a close and intimate relationship of spiritual growth with our maker.
Number two should be our family in this order:
Spouse THEN CHILDREN.
Number Three should be our ministry. You're a Christian before your a soldier or a mortgage broker or a physician.
We also have to look towards others and their needs. It's easy to get wrapped up in our own selfish pursuits. We need to set these aside and focus on the needs of others.
"Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
Pride and Ambition can kill us.
If we work hard for an intimate relationship with God, put our wife second only to God and work hard to have a close friendship and lasting romance and intimacy with her. Then take the lead in raising our children and leave a lasting ministry by spreading God's word. We are living on purpose according to biblical priorities.
I ask God daily to help me strengthen these areas of my life because focusing less on my plan and more on his plan, is leaving a legacy and becoming a Legacy Dad.