How to Avoid Relationship Drift

Today is my wedding anniversary and a great day to reflect on relationships. I’ve observed couples with good relationships and couples with bad relationships. I’ve seen friends become enemies and I’ve seen a few instances when opponents become reconciled. I can confidently say that relationships are made or broken over time through a continuous series of decisions and events. Broken relationships are usually the victim of relationship drift.

What is it?

Relationship drift occurs as one person in a relationship makes a series of choices that weaken the relationship. Listen, you don’t wake up and decide to hate your husband one day. You didn’t just have a random mid-life crisis and decide that you suddenly despise the sight of your wife. Relationship drift happens subtly and slowly.

Relationship drift between two people is usually prefaced by relationship drift between one party and God. We’ve all been guilty of skipping prayer or bible-reading time. I get it. But what begins as a “busy season,” can quickly turn into a cold relationship. Whenever we spend time reading the word and talking to God, we align our heart with His heart. As our hearts are aligned, our nature and behavior more closely resembles God’s nature. Our decisions will reflect our alignment with God’s heart. As we drift more out of alignment, our behavior tends to look less and less Christ-like. A cooling relationship with God will quickly lead to decision-making that hurts your relationships with other people.

What does it look like?

You and your wife used to have one date night per week, and then you had one per month. Now you ask, “What’s a date night?”

You used to think your husband was sexy, but now you think fictional characters in racy books are sexy and you wish your husband was “more exciting.”

You used to do random acts to surprise your wife and show her you loved her, then you started telling yourself, “she knows I love her,” so you cut back. Eventually you decided, “That kind of stuff is for newlyweds.”

Taking people for granted leads to relationship drift. Selfishness leads to relationship drift. Laziness leads to relationship drift.

How to avoid it…

Stop making excuses. Start doing the right thing. Don’t decide you’re going to start reading your bible “next week.” Do it right now. Don’t decide you’re going to do something nice for your spouse next month. Do it tonight. Just as relationships sour after months and years of relationship drift, they are healed by steady applications of love and selflessness.

Your relationship didn’t “lose the fire.” Intimacy is not something one finds and then loses like a set of keys. Intimacy is something that is created by intentional cultivation. The way you get intimacy back is to correct your course, realign your priorities, and pursue the one you love.

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