“Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk Have ‘Ideal’ Marriage Where They Don’t Live Together,” Vanity Fair announced.

Only a short eight months into their marriage, Gwyneth Paltrow admitted that she and her husband actually live in two separate houses much of the time. Even though they both live in Los Angeles.

“All my married friends say that the way we live sounds ideal and we shouldn’t change a thing,” Paltrow also said. Her friends are saying that marriages where couples are together every now and then are “ideal.” Implying that it’s best if you act like a married person half the time and a single person the rest of the time?

Yes, I’m difficult to live with at times. I’m often selfish—I’ll just change the TV channel without even asking my wife for permission. And sorry, honey, but you can be selfish too. Still, I don’t think my wife would respond well to, “Honey, I love you, but I can only take being around you about half the time.”

I bet yours wouldn’t either, so don’t try that at home!

Comments like these that question the value of marriage frustrate me. And recommendations of “ideal” practices that would hurt most marriages don’t excite me either.

Acting part time too

But before I throw Gwyneth Paltrow and company under the bus, God reminds me to examine my own marriage first. I live full time under one roof with my wife, but I often act like a part-time husband.

Some days, I can be sitting across from her at the same dinner table but not be present emotionally or conversationally. I’m lost somewhere else in thought or action as she speaks to me. Then I don’t hear a word she says. I forget to hold her and listen.

Maybe my worst habit is staying too long at work. Sometimes I’m engrossed in a project and lose track of time. But other times, I’m distracted by small, unimportant things and stay late. That might be forgivable on occasion. Except for those times I don’t even call to let her know.

I can articulate my values and my commitment to a strong marriage all I want. What really matters is whether I live it out daily. Cherishing my wife as I say other husbands should. Priorities are only goals and dreams unless they’re acted on.

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Focusing full time

I don’t want to be blind to my shortcuts as a husband. And I don’t want to shortchange my wife with a part-time commitment. So I’m going to try these four steps to live out my priorities in my marriage:

  1. Ask myself the hard questions to see if I am living out my priorities and values. What am I giving my time to? What am I thinking about most? Am I being selfish or thinking of my wife?
  2. Ask my wife how I’m doing as a husband (and not get defensive). Does she feel cherished and cared for? Is she valued? What am I missing?
  3. Make plans to live out my priorities and make improvements (and not just hope they somehow happen—because they won’t). Plan when, where, how, and do it. Keep it at the front of my mind and my schedule.
  4. Repeat on a regular basis.

I need to be reminded of these things.

Benefit of the doubt

Just so you don’t throw them under the bus, I haven’t actually told you the full story about Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk’s marriage. They are living apart some of the time as they try to gradually blend their families and children from their previous marriages. It’s a delicate process to bring two families together.  They’re just able to afford two homes and lots of help. Hopefully, they don’t believe this is ideal.

But they’re working to provide their family what each member needs as they start this new life together. I’m rooting for them to pull it off and work into a full-time life together situation.

I’m rooting for you too. And all of us in our daily marriages out of the limelight, because we choose the easier, on-our-own ways too often. I hope you’re motivated to work to be a better full-time spouse. With God’s grace, instruction, and help, it’s an ideal we can not only shoot for, but experience.

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