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How Can We Stop Becoming Isolated From Each Other in Our Marriage?

Every marriage, no matter how good, needs a plan to combat isolation and to bring about intimacy.

By Dennis Rainey

Isolation is a disease that afflicts every marriage at some point. A husband and wife slowly drift apart in ways they don’t even recognize at first. Signs of isolation include the following:

  • A feeling that your spouse isn’t hearing you and doesn’t want to understand

  • An attitude of “Who cares?” and/or “Why try?”

  • A feeling of being unable to please or meet the expectations of your spouse

  • A sense that your spouse is detached from you

  • A refusal to cope with what’s really wrong: “That’s your problem, not mine.”

  • A feeling that keeping the peace by avoiding the conflict is better than the pain of dealing with reality

If you are starting to observe these symptoms in your marriage, you have begun experiencing the disease called isolation.

Every marriage, no matter how good, needs a plan to defeat isolation and to bring about intimacy. Isolation is like a terminal virus that invades your marriage—silently, slowly, and painlessly at first. By the time many couples become aware of its insidious effects, it can be too late. Your marriage can eventually be crippled by boredom and apathy, and it could even die from emotional malnutrition and neglect. Follow these nine steps to defeat isolation your marriage:

Step One: Learn about God’s blueprints for marriage.

If you were to survey couples and ask, “What is your plan for making your marriage work?” you would hear the following response from many of them: “We have a 50/50 relationship. We meet each other halfway. We each do our part.”

On the surface, the 50/50 plan sounds fair and reasonable. In reality, this plan is destined to fail. The problem is simple: It is impossible to determine when your spouse has met you halfway.

Many times in a marriage, both partners are busy, overworked, tired, and feel taken for granted. If you try to operate according to the 50/50 plan, at some point you will start accepting your spouse according to his performance. Your natural selfishness will cloud your judgment, and you will start thinking that your spouse isn’t doing enough to keep the marriage and the family going. Thomas Fuller captured the thought process that occurs in most marriages: “Each horse thinks his pack is heaviest.”

Ultimately, the world’s plan, the 50/50 performance relationship, is destined to fail because it is contrary to God’s plan.

You can read dozens of books about what people think the plan for marriage ought to be, but since God created marriage, you should find out what His blueprints are for building a marriage. Here are three key principles:

1. To mirror God’s image. After God created the earth and the animals, He said, “‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27).

Your marriage should reflect God’s image to a world that desperately needs to see who He is. Because we’re created in the image of God, people who wouldn’t otherwise know what God is like should be able to look at us and get a glimpse.

2. To mutually complete each other and experience companionship. Scripture clearly outlines a second purpose for marriage: to mutually complete one other. That’s why God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Adam felt isolated in the garden, and so God created woman to eliminate his aloneness. Writing to the first-century church in Corinth, Paul echoed the teachings in Genesis 2 when he asserted, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman” (1 Corinthians 11:11).

You need each other. You recognize that now. But if you build your marriage according to God’s blueprints, as the years go by you will really appreciate the genius of how God has custom-made your mate for you.

3. To multiply a godly legacy. A line of godly descendants—your children—will carry a reflection of God’s character to the next generation. Your plans for children may still be in the future, but if He blesses you with this gift, you will be in for an amazing adventure.

God’s original plan called for the home to be a sort of spiritual greenhouse—a nurturing place where children grow up to learn character, values, and integrity. One of your assignments is to impart a sense of destiny—a spiritual mission—to your children. Make your home a place where your children learn what it means to love and obey God. Your home should be a training center to equip your children to look at the needs of people and the world through the eyes of Jesus Christ.

Your marriage is far more important than you may have ever imagined because it affects God’s reputation on this planet. That’s why it’s essential for you to set Jesus Christ apart as the Builder of your home.