It’s amazing how quickly unintended destruction can happen to a home.
A few years ago in my hometown, a family was shooting bottle rockets in front of their house on New Year’s Eve. Someone lit a rocket and accidentally tipped the bottle over. The rocket shot out, flew through the open door, and into the Christmas tree.
The tree had grown dry over the month of December, and when the bottle rocket popped, the tree exploded into flames; and within three minutes, the entire house was engulfed in fire. Gone were the Christmas presents, photos, and the family dog – the only thing they managed to rescue was the car.
Marriages are kind of like that house, which was actually a lovely home in an exclusive neighborhood. The right weak spot can leave a marriage or a home vulnerable to being destroyed. The problem for a lot of us is that we often don’t pay attention to what’s going on in our relationship to our spouse – we’re too busy, so we don’t think about our marriages enough to know what our weak spots might be.
To get an idea of what your marriage’s major weak spots are, ask yourself this: If I were Satan, what areas would I use to drive a wedge between my spouse and me? Where does the tension keep arising between us – even if it’s a low-grade, unspoken frustration? Maybe one of you works too much or you’ve stopped being physically intimate with each other; maybe you incessantly bicker, you can’t agree on the church you should attend, or maybe you’re paying too much attention to your kids.
Ignoring those areas is like leaving a Christmas tree in your house without being watered for a month and hoping Satan never manages to get a bottle rocket through the door. At the same time, paying attention to those areas doesn’t mean you should immediately confront your spouse. Instead, you might want to go to the Holy Spirit and some trustworthy friends and be honest about the ways you contribute to your marital problem areas (if you think you’re perfectly blameless, then you’ve definitely got a problem). After getting some feedback from your friends and the Holy Spirit, ask them to hold you accountable to change. It probably won’t improve things overnight, but dysfunctional relationships don’t get that way overnight, and it will probably take a lot of time, prayer, and discipline to improve the health of your marriage.
I know it’s hard work – personally, I find it easier to stick with what I’ve always done in marriage, even if it’s unhealthy – but it’s a lot better than turning around one day, finding your marriage engulfed in flames, and wondering how in the world that happened.