…don’t couples need date nights to renew their romantic passion? In one experiment, researchers assigned some couples to spend time by themselves and have deeply personal conversations, while others were set up with a couple they had never met and told to initiate similar conversations. Afterward, all the couples reported greater satisfaction with their relationship, but couples who had been on the “double date” reported feeling more romantic passion toward each other than those who had engaged only with each other.
If you’re looking for ways to renew the passion in your marriage, it may come as a surprise that alone time with your spouse won’t always do the trick. Stephanie Coontz’s recent New York Times article presents evidence about building a happy marriage that I think lines up with an important biblical truth: if you want to be refreshed, refresh someone else (Proverbs 11:25).
This month we are hosting Couples Night Out events all over the Bay Area, with the goal in mind of helping couples meet and befriend other couples. As Coontz points out, it’s all too easy for couples to retreat into “coupledom” – but to be happy and satisfied in life we actually need a strong network of relationships and a greater purpose for our lives.
Is your marriage in need of friends? Check out these signs to find out.
1) You’re looking for ways to revive your romance
Do you find yourself looking forward to your next getaway to connect with your spouse?
I know, life is busy. And in the busyness of life, it’s easy to get disconnected from each other. When I feel this way, I often think the solution is to get away from everything to a beach somewhere and be alone with my hubby.
And while there is certainly nothing wrong with a beach trip, the truth is that it’s temporary. A marriage that relies on getaways to feel close will feel distant most of the time.
The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)
I think what this scripture is saying is that we will be refreshed when we live a life of refreshing others. Do you and your spouse have a common purpose together that’s bigger than just making it through the day? Do you like helping people together? Do you believe you are together for a reason and that you can make a difference together?
If you’re looking for this kind of relationship, try getting involved in our families ministry. You’ll find couples who are devoted to making a difference in their community, and you’ll make some new friends in the process!
2) You know all the lines to “Let It Go”
Marriage should be honored by everyone…
Hebrews 13:4 NCV
Got kids? Then you know how hard it can be to stay connected to adult friends. We just had our first baby and it amazes me how easy it is for this tiny sleeping human to completely take over my life! Some of the best advice we got before the baby was born was to remember that our kid will [hopefully] move out someday, but our marriage is supposed to last forever.
How often do you take time away from the kids to prioritize connecting with your spouse? What are some creative ways you can still spend time with friends while giving your child the attention he/she needs?
3) You are easily anxious
38 While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. 39 Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. 40 But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.”
41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. 42 Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (NCV)
I think one of the reasons Martha was anxious in this scripture is she didn’t prioritize relationships. She wanted to get stuff done, instead of choosing to slow down and listen to Jesus.
I tend to be a very anxious person, and I’m learning that my anxiety increases when I’m not connected to people. When you share your fears and anxieties with God and other friends, they can reassure you and give you perspective. When I’m alone, my mind becomes an echo chamber for all my worries and i start believing and living by them.
What do you think your anxiety level says about your relationships? Who are some friends you could reach out to today that would provide relief for you and your spouse?
4) You’ve been married less than a year
These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children…
Just being a newlywed is a sign your marriage needs friends!
The truth is, marriage isn’t easy. This scripture says we must be trained to love- meaning, it doesn’t come naturally.
If you are a newlywed, don’t try to go it alone! I have desperately needed friends in my life to tell me their crazy stories and help me understand the patterns in my marriage.
5) You’ve been married more than a year
So, basically everyone needs friends.
Yes, even if you are no longer a newlywed you need other couples in your life. Sometimes as time goes by, we build patterns in our marriage that feel difficult to change. As Coontz points out, we need friends to help us change our perspective:
In another example of how friendships can benefit a marriage, happily married wives who experience conflicts in their marriage generally feel closer to their husbands when they can discuss and reframe the issues with a good friend.
I think this concept is what the Bible talks about in Hebrews:
12 So brothers and sisters, be careful that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that will turn you away from the living God. 13 But encourage each other every day while it is “today.” Help each other so none of you will become hardened because sin has tricked you.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (NCV)
Sometimes, sin tricks us. I can’t even count how many times I left a conversation with my husband convinced that he was the problem and not sure how to get out of my hurt and bitterness, only to talk to a friend and get a totally different perspective that snapped me out of my emotions.
Couples Night Out events are a great opportunity to build these much-needed friendships with other couples. We hope you will take the time to join us, get to know some new people and ultimately build an even happier and more satisfying marriage!
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