Did you hit PAUSE on your marriage?

There was a point in my career when any couple who wanted to get married in five local churches had to pass through my office for three sessions on the way to the altar. In those three sessions, I was supposed to make sure they were as ready as possible to be married.

What happened?

It happened to “Linda,” who told me that she knew she had found her soulmate — and then it fell apart. She said, “We were so in love, so in sync. I thought we would grow old together, support each other, and stay in love. I was wrong.”

Which causes a problem for the marriage.

People don’t know that marriages cannot be paused. They are either progressing or declining. They are either growing or receding. They can’t be placed in suspended animation. If you hit pause, your marriage recedes and declines for a specific reason.

Many people treat their marriage more like I treat my laptop.

If I am not using it, I shut the lid of the laptop. The computer suspends activity, keeping things just as they were (if all works right) until I need the computer again. Then, I open the lid and jump right back to where I was (less just a little battery life).

Not much connection, though.

They stayed busy enough to not notice, though. And the more they became strangers, the more they distracted themselves. But the more distracted they were, the more they detached.

But for other couples, the situation is more dire.

The symptoms were missed or ignored. The pain was buried or blamed. And the marriage slipped into a life-threatening coma. It takes far more intensive care and effort to pull the relationship back from the edge and back to life.

Is life just limited, then, to your marriage?

To be clear, couples do need to tend to other parts of life. Children and career are important, toy and travel are enjoyable. The problem is asset allocation. You only have so much time and energy. Often, time and energy are pulled from the marriage. The marriage does not get the same attention it did earlier. And sometimes, it can’t. Immediate priorities shift. There may be a crisis or a demand that requires more focus at that moment.

Until one day, you are staring into the eyes of an intimate stranger.

This article may be descriptive or preventative. If you have avoided hitting pause, good for you! Stay on-track and stay connected. If you hit pause, time to un-pause. Time to tend to your relationship.

Over the years, I’ve learned some lessons from these couples.

1. People don’t intentionally hit the Pause Button. They don’t really even know they did it, except in hindsight. Once they marry, they tend to think that the marital relationship will take care of itself. After all, you are married! And usually, that means you are in the same home together, seeing each other on a daily basis. That leaves room to take care of all the other areas of life. Except marital relationships are not self-maintaining. They need time and attention.

Is your marriage on pause?

Do you see the places you hit pause? If you and your spouse hit pause, you cannot go back and un-do it. But you can begin a re-do. You can start working on restoring the connection. You can focus on the priorities of the relationship. You can begin to repair the hurt, taking responsibility for your side of the pause. Don’t spend the time in regret when you can spend the time in repair.

Doing my best to be my best. Thriveologist working at thriving and helping others to thrive. Family guy who loves to paddle, run, and roll.

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