By TERI M BETHEL
Have you ever pulled a slice of stale bread from the bag and just could not bring yourself to eat it? That once delicious baker's delight which used to tantalise your taste buds is no longer appealing. In fact, you are so bored with it, you leave it on the counter to dry up.
That's how some marriages are--untouched, dry and unappealing; just left to the side. Your marriage doesn't have to be like that. Like old bread, your relationship becomes stale when it's taken for granted. As a former director of a local marriage ministry (along with my husband ), it was not unusual to hear some wives complain of their boredom in marriage. Being overlooked drove a wedge between them and their husbands.
Men were also claiming boredom with their relationships. Those with young families often complained that their wives did not give them the attention they had become accustomed to prior to having children. Their relationship had become more about the kids and careers than about themselves. As time passed, they continued to drift in separate directions.
How do you bridge the gap
One of the main areas of concern for most couples was the lack of healthy communication. Women wanted to talk; to share their day with their husbands. Men wanted quiet; by the time they came home from work their total allotment of words for the day was used up. The only thing left in their bag of vocabulary were grunts and other unidentifiable sounds. For them to rehash their day was about as thrilling as sitting in a dentist's chair for a tooth extraction. Hearing about her day was even more painful.
Are you ready to take your relationship to a higher level?
For a married couple, balance is key. While each needs their private time, it is just as important to have a 'together time'. Not just for a sexual encounter, but for building intimacy with each other. Contrary to popular opinion, intimacy begins with conversations along with random acts of kindness, not a roll in the sack.
The good news about rebuilding your relationship is that you don't have to do everything at once or expect an overnight turnaround to habits that took years to develop.
Simple steps to make big improvements
Punishing your spouse by being unkind will not bring satisfaction in marriage. Instead, try the steps below:
• Explore what the purpose of marriage is -- the creator of a thing knows the purpose for which it was created.
• Discover how effective marriages thrive -- so many people spend years studying for their careers but won't invest the time or resources needed to build a happy marriage.
• Treat your spouse with love and respect -- adjust your attitude to one that honours your mate.
• Take time to develop your friendship -- get to know your spouse all over again.
• Prioritise your relationships -- some friendships could be destroying your marriage.
Just the two of you
Despite your business, it is important to stop the running at least once a week to reset and reconnect with your spouse by spending quality time together. Choosing to bypass a normal activity to spend time with your spouse shows how much you care for them.
The first thing many couples say is they don't have the funds to do anything together. Finances are an issue so they stay home. Some of the poorest people in the world have the richest relationships. Their focus is on people and not things.
So how about taking a scenic walk in the cool of the evening, or sitting together on the back porch to watch the sun go down. Do something that you can connect with; practice eye contact as well as open displays of affection such as holding hands. Speak positively to each other, avoid negative remarks and criticisms. Share your heart, tell a joke, get a good belly laugh; cultivate your friendship again without your cell phone in hand.
Rebuilding your relationship doesn't take much. Make an effort to rid yourself of a dry marriage once and for all.
Let's pray: Father, I'm tired of having a dry marriage. I would like to have my relationship with my spouse revived. I need your help and invite you to change my heart. Please show me how to renew my thinking to correct where I have been in error. Rather than pointing fingers at my spouse, teach us how to work together to restore our marriage. I'm excited about what you are going to do in me and through me Lord, and I thank you in advance for restoring our relationship. In Jesus' name, amen.
• Teri M Bethel is an author as well as a publisher of books that seek to entertain, empower and promote healthy lifestyles for adults and children. Additionally, she provides a free online directory for local authors to showcase their family friendly books. Teri and her husband serve as marriage and family advisors for a local ministry. The couple has two adult sons. Visit her website, www.BooksByBethel.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.