Being “in the rut” is typically considered a good term for hunters especially right now. Does are ready to mate and bucks are strutting around the forests oblivious to orange clad humans with rifles slung over their shoulders. This is the point in the season where the odds are in the hunters favor and things start to get real exciting. Everyone is just waiting for the rut to begin….
In marriage finding yourself in a rut is usually by accident and it most often spells trouble. Not serious relationship ending trouble, but without proper monitoring and a plan to climb out, this small rut can turn into a good sized ditch, which can widen into a deep valley, and then ultimately a chasm that’s separated you from your spouse.
Ruts in a road are formed over long periods of time when tires drive through the same spots over and over again.
Creating a rut in our relationships looks something like this: Wake up, go to work, take care of the housework, cook dinner, tend to our children’s needs, brush our teeth, go to bed. REPEAT. Day after day, after day. It’s monotonous, and it can have a very negative effect on our monogamy. Faithfulness should be unconditional in marriage regardless of the quality of the relationship. But that’s not to say that a mundane and lifeless marriage can’t lead to temptations, that could develop into adultery.
Now I’m not saying that getting stuck in a rut will steer you towards divorce. I hate divorce and so does God. What I am saying is that we as couples need to have our eyes and ears open. Only you and your spouse can know how your marriage is doing and what needs to be improved. Test your awareness, see how in-tuned you are with your husband or wife. Can you tell by the sound in their voice when something is wrong? Or by a look in their eyes?
Can you both sense when there is a distance growing between you, it starts out subtle, a cold shoulder or response left unsaid. Our hectic and unbalanced schedules multiply the disconnection we feel and by the end of a long week you can look across the table at your spouse and they feel like a stranger.
How do we fight this pull to drive in the same part of the road, how do we make our days count with our spouse when we feel we have no time or energy left?
It starts with a recognition, being alert to the ebb and flow of your relationship. Become a master in reading your husband or wife so you can know what they need. Then get a doctorate in who they are, this part takes a lifetime though, thank goodness.
Then we get intentional, love is an action and not just a sentence we mutter going out the door. Serve your spouse in tangible ways everyday, stop with the excuses and just act! Hold hands, hug one another, kiss, check in with each other throughout the day, make time to catch up each night. Write love notes, or emails, text just to say you miss them, be thoughtful and help them in many different ways. Give compliments and thank each other for the little things. Talk about more than work, and bills, and diaper changes. Discuss your dreams and goals, share your struggles and what excites you.
Prioritize. This one messes up a lot of us. What do we put first in our life? For me the order is God, my husband, my family and friends. Putting God at the center of our marriage gives us solid ground to build from, we serve Him and that helps us serve one another. I put Christopher before everything else in my life, my work, my family, my personal goals. He comes first, and I have to show him that in my everyday actions and decisions. And he does the same fore me.
Some days you reflect back on what you’ve accomplished and it doesn’t account for much. After work you ate dinner and then vegged out on the couch watching TV for five hours. You chose television over reading the Bible, over talking with your spouse, or playing with your kids. Sometimes our misplaced priorities are what land us in our ruts and it takes intentional reorganizing to fix it.
When the rut you’re in seems too deep to handle on your own, turn to God, seek godly advice and counseling from a trusted couple who’s been there. And first of all, pay attention to your spouse, to your daily choices and most importantly your marriage.