At the beginning of a marriage couples spend hours talking, laughing and enjoying each other. But that gradually changes. Life is busy, children take up time and attention and couples drift apart. Drifting apart usually happens very slowly. If it happened suddenly we would notice it more readily; we would react to the change, we would talk about it and work to stop the drift.
Drift happens when we don’t have enough time together. Couples working different shifts have little time together and often find it difficult to stay connected. Some times drift begins with a disagreement that causes hurt and anger - so much hurt and anger that we shut down. We harden our hearts and become cold to the other person.
Drift also happens when we stop talking about important things. We keep all conversation safe. We talk about the weather, sports, our routines. We talk in cliques. “I’m fine. How are you?” We avoid controversy. We avoid our feelings. We don’t talk about our hopes or dreams. We never get beyond small talk.
Before we know it the drifting apart becomes a cold war. In an extreme form drifting apart finds us eating meals separately. We pass messages through our children rather than talk to each other. We work late and find other ways to avoid each other. Drifting apart becomes quite serious.
To overcome any degree of drifting apart, do the following:
1. Face issues that started the drifting apart process. If a major disagreement caused your drift you will need to talk about this. If it’s too difficult at first, each person can write out their thoughts about what happened. Later you can share what you’ve written but do so with respect.
2. Face difficult issues by talking about them. Some of us “stuff” our feelings to keep the peace. We can’t connect unless we learn to be open with each other. . Listen carefully to your partner to understand his or her point of view. We’re all different and we often hurt each other unintentionally.
3. Make a conscious effort to affirm each other. List all the positives about your relationship. List your partner’s positive traits. Share these with each other.
4. Make your marriage one of your highest priorities. List the things you enjoyed in the past but have stopped doing. Begin doing them again. Have fun together.
We drift away from God in the same way we drift away from our partner. We’re too busy for prayer or Bible study or worship. We say a brief prayer on the run, telling God we’ll get back to him later. We skip Sunday worship because we’re tired.
Do we really want to know God? Drifting is serious business. I know, because I drifted far away from God for many years. God waits, wanting to hear from us every day. And he always takes us back. We miss out on so much when we drift away from God. When we stay close and seek him we feel his presence, receive his guidance and live by his Spirit. We may even feel our hearts burn within us. Have you spent time with God today?
Work at the most important relationships. It will be worth it.