There’s a craze going around about self-driving cars – autopilot cars. Similar to Google Maps, you plug in in your destination, sit back, relax, and the car does all the work.
On one hand, it sounds like a blast! Imagine all the things you could get done on your morning and evening commutes? Think about all the things you already do that you’re not supposed to do while driving – brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, fix your hair, put on makeup, and catch up on your phone with emails, texts, or a myriad of social media options.
On the other hand, I’m more than a little leery of the entire proposition. First, I am a conspiracy theorist at heart. Movies like iRobot (a movie in the early 2000s that centered on intelligent robots and self-driving cars) do not help my condition. The thought of a car taking over - and me giving up control - is not for me. Also, we talk about how new technology will free us, but what we’ve seen is that it creates more room to be bound. We typically fill our new-found “free time” with other things, which is the opposite of freedom.
Unfortunately, some of us treat our marriage like a self-driving car. It’s just buzzing along in the background while we do our “other” more important stuff. Your “other stuff” could be things such as your career, recreational activities, shopping, entertainment, TV, sports, and the like. Fill in the “other” as you may.
If we’re honest, we did not get married to have our marriage and spouse just buzzing along in the background while we do “other stuff.” We got married because we saw someone with whom we wanted to spend the rest of our existence here on earth with every day. Marriage should not be placed on autopilot.
Here are 3 simple ways to keep your hands on the wheel.
Pray with and for your spouse. It’s been reported that there’s a 99% likelihood that your marriage will stay together and thrive if you pray together (numerous articles/sources). What should you pray about together? Anything and everything! What should you pray for your spouse? A great starting place is consistently praying through Ephesians 5:22-33 as it describes God’s intended roles for husbands and wives in marriage. Pray that you will fulfill God’s design for your role and that your spouse will fulfill theirs as well.
Date your spouse – even after you say, “I do!” What does date night look like in your marriage? Is it an intentional effort on you and your spouse’s part? Does it just kind of happen because you need something to eat or something to do? Or does it not happen at all because one or both of you are caught up in the “other stuff”? Reconnecting for a planned and intentional time with your spouse shows how much you value the relationship and your spouse. All dates do not have to be extravagant or rival the latest celebrity wedding, but a little forethought and planning go a long way in showing how much you value and cherish your spouse. (See Proverbs 31:10 and 1 Peter 3:7). If you need some fresh ideas for a date night, check out these 124 Date Night Ideas.
Weekly meetings to talk, listen, and share. Some of us dread the word or thought of meetings. Some may be asking, “why in the world would I want to bring MEETINGS into my marriage and family?!” Well, the good thing is you don’t have to call them meetings. You can call them share time, touch points, get-togethers, foreplay, or whatever you will. The point is to set aside time to engage in deeper heart questions for your marriage, sync up your calendars for the week ahead, and discuss finances.
My pastor always says, “start simply and simply start.” You and your spouse may not be able to do everything listed above, but the Lord honors our effort and not our result. He is always looking for willing, yielded, and trusting hearts. Can you consistently yield your marriage to the Lord? Can you and your spouse, through the Holy Spirit, trust Jesus with your marriage?
Just like autopilot cars, it may appear to be freeing to let marriage just happen without intentionality, thought, and planning. That is the passive approach to marriage, and God certainly does not call us to passivity. Check out Genesis 3 and how that turned out for Adam and his marriage.
Driving, at least for today, is a very active privilege and our marriages are no less. As we take our marriages by the wheel, it actually provides more freedom and dispels the farce of freedom that passivity promises but has yet to deliver. Following the 2 greatest commandments in our marriage (Matthew 22:37-39), will not only deepen our marriages, but enrich our communities, provide refreshing reassurance to friends and family alike, and make God’s renown known to all those we frequently brush up against. It’s a great time to be married, so let’s do it well!
Decide on a set time for your intentional “meeting” with your spouse. Come up with a list of questions that you can ask each other that will help grow oneness before you navigate the week ahead.
Start simply, and simply start. Plan a date night for your spouse, write them a note of encouragement, pray with them before their work day, surprise them with their favorite candy, or so something that would bless them by your intentionality.