Auto-pilot is great for airplanes but terrible for marriages
I don’t know why we tend to put our marriages on auto-pilot. But we do.
Make no mistake: auto-pilot is a slow but certain path to relationship death.Make no mistake: auto-pilot is a slow but certain path to relationship death. #beintentional #marriagetruth Click To Tweet
The Louder Voices
There are many areas of our lives demanding our attention where auto-pilot is just not an option, where neglect comes with severe consequences that will quickly become apparent. If you don’t put effort into your job, you get fired. If you neglect your kids, at some point you end up in jail. If you don’t pay your bills, the creditors come knocking, demanding their money.
But with marriage, it is often different. When a couple neglects each other and their relationship, it’s often without immediate and obvious consequences. So we let it go. We give ourselves, our energy, and our attention to the other, louder voices in our lives. We believe we can work on our marriage later.
And when “later” never comes, the negative consequences begin to mount up. You wake up one day and find yourselves living more like roommates than lovers.
You Control the Switch
The first thing to realize is that we go on auto-pilot without us intentionally turning it on. It’s the natural course of relationship neglect. Our brains are biologically predisposed to seek areas we can auto-pilot.
The second thing to realize about auto-pilot is that you are the only one who can turn it off. Not your spouse. You.You have control of the auto-pilot switch in your #marriage. Not your spouse. You. Turn it off. Keep it off. #beintentional #marriagetruth Click To Tweet
You keep your marriage from drifting into auto-pilot mode by daily, simple acts of love. That’s it. Don’t worry about making grand gestures. Rather, choose every day to demonstrate your love for your husband or wife in little ways that are meaningful to him or her.
Do you need to know what this looks like?
- Ask your spouse, “What can I do to show you how much I love you today?” or “How can I make your day easier?” Think about how you might make him or her glad to be married to you.
- Be intentional about non-sexual physical touch. Hold hands. Hug. Sit close together. Learn the kind of touch that best connects you and do it regularly.
- Have at least a few minutes of meaningful conversation. Give your full attention. Don’t just talk about who is going to pick up the kids or the groceries. Talk about what is going on inside of you. Yes, it takes real effort if you aren’t used to doing it, but there is a significant intimacy payoff.
- Carve out regular “couple time.” Some couples allocate a few minutes at a particular time each day and teach their children (assuming they are old enough to do so) to entertain themselves during this Mommy-Daddy time.
- Go on date nights, weekly if possible, even if you have to do them at home some or all of the time.
- Even small gestures like bringing your spouse a cup of coffee or tea, prepared just the way they like it, tells him or her of your love. Bring home their favorite treat once in a while.
- Ask, “How can I pray for you today?” And do it.
- Speak kindness. Tell your spouse thanks for something they did lately. Tell him or her you are proud of them and why. Make a positive comment on their appearance.
My point is that it’s all about being intentional. It’s about having a mindset determined to feed your relationship daily, to watch for small opportunities to show love in ways that mean the most to your spouse. And remember, it’s very likely that the things that speak love to you are not the same things that speak love to your spouse. So pay attention and be a lifelong student of the things that most say, “I love you” to your husband or wife.
You might be surprised at how even the littlest kind and loving words and deeds shift the atmosphere of your marriage.
If you need some help with more ideas for keeping your marriage of off auto-pilot, check out my book, Pump Up the Passion. In it, I give over 60 simple, specific ways to keep the passion alive in your marriage. If you go now to my new web store and enter promo code PASSION25 at checkout, you get a 25% discount on the book. You can also get the Kindle version from Amazon.