I find it interesting that the first human institution created by God was marriage. Its importance is clear in the words of Genesis 1:27 when we see that the relationship between a man and woman actually reflects the image of God, in Genesis 2:18 when God declared it was “not good” for man to be alone, and in Genesis 2:24 when he calls for a husband and wife to be “one flesh”—a physical, spiritual, and emotional union.

That’s why I believe that your marriage relationship should be paramount in your home. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a healthy, happy, and stable relationship with your spouse.

The challenge, of course, is that it’s very easy to drift into isolation in marriage. Often a husband and wife begin drifting apart so slowly that they hardly recognize it’s happening. Then, after a few years of poor communication, they realize that their love life has grown stale. That’s why many successful-looking marriages aren’t much more than two successful people independently doing their own thing—they aren’t friends and life-partners. And when that happens, the children suffer.

Here are two steps for battling the drift toward staleness and isolation in your marriage:

First, seek God by regularly praying together as a couple.

Shortly after we were married in 1972, Barbara and I began praying every day together. I believe this one spiritual discipline has done more for our marriage and family than any other single thing we have done. Why? Because it’s tough to pray with someone you’re ticked off at! We have found that we either resolve the problem and pray, or go to sleep angry. So we seek to build bridges of understanding between us, forgive one another, and then pray.

When you pray together, you multiply your joys, divide your sorrows, add to your experiences with God together, and help subtract your haunting past from your life. During the rugged times of your marriage, you can share your burdens. Prayer can also take away the desire to get even and replace it with a willingness to work things out.

I urge you to make this commitment with your spouse. You may be afraid to start, and let me assure you, you are not alone. Many people are hesitant to start praying with their spouses. If this is the case, try saying this prayer: Lord, teach me how to pray with my spouse. I’m afraid.

Second, spend time together to build intimacy and romance into your relationship.

When you were dating and considering marriage, you probably developed many creative ways to woo and attract each other. But after your children arrived, did your romance begin to fizzle?

You may be thinking, How can you plan romance? It’s supposed to be spontaneous! Sometimes that is true. But I’ve found that, more often than not, spontaneous romance is a common characteristic of early romance. Once you’re married, and you are accustomed to being with each other day after day, month after month, romance needs to be planned.

It’s especially difficult to be spontaneous when you have children. Many couples attending our Weekend to Remember® getaways say they haven’t been on a date in over a year. Even more shocking is the fact that some haven’t been away alone together overnight since their honeymoon!

How long has it been for you? Get away to spend some time together. Your kids will thank you for it.

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