The natural occurrence of relationships is to either work at them by spending time connecting, or seeing them drift apart. Think back on your relationships with family members, childhood and adolescent friends, and ponder which you are well connected with now, and what the difference is between them and others you’ve lost “touch” with.
Most often the difference comes down to the effort the two of you have put into keeping the relationship fresh and meaningful to you both --- with a fair portion of that effort being, for you – about them, their needs, and life.
In marriage: we marry believing that our greatest needs will be met by our spouse – or do we merely have that as an unrealistic expectation? Yes, during our dating we are usually receiving sufficiently from the one we’re dating to keep us interested, and most us, if honest, would acknowledge that we were on our best behavior, focused on their needs as well. That level of receiving and giving usually lasts into the marriage.
Unfortunately a good part of that level of selflessness is hormonal and those hormones only are produced by our brains for a sustainably limited time – typically 4 years at best. Unless we have something more significant than hormones, our relationship will follow the natural drift phenomenon of all relationships moving to the time where there is not significant connection effort which leads toward distance, alienation, isolation, arguing, criticism, defensiveness and blame.
There are some easy to spot early signs that drift is looming in our marriage: avoiding time together, being “too busy” with work, kids, church, sports, failing to date your spouse for fun times, talk centering around the kids, work, others, rather than focusing in on what’s important to each other and to your marriage relationship.
We need to know and understand that marriage takes work, and that the natural occurrence for the majority of couples in America is to drift. Having something more substantial guides us as the hormonal drugs taper off and to sustain us for decades into the future.
I believe that “something” is a personal heart being transformed into Christ-likeness, learning from Scripture all we can about godly character – His Character – that we might imitate it and have Christ change ours from the inside out. Sharing such growth, in studies, on a date, teaching our children, will bring us closer, but that does not remove the need for individual investment in the study of God’s Word, prayer and fellowship/study with other couples.
Lastly I'd like us all to ponder what those aspects of drift from paragraph 5 above will do to our relationship with God. Can we expect Him to grow godliness in us when we are in a one-way relationship with Him? He has given it all just for us, when we don't or won't give ourselves to Him. David Ferguson writes in his book “Relational Discipleship” how the life of Jesus illustrated that God reveals what is needed only as we surrender to Him.