I want a new car, I want a new house, and I have recently started running a few times a week. So, all of a sudden my wife is convinced I am having a mid-life crisis. It is really a running joke that her and I have batted back and forth for a little while now. Every time I mention something I want to buy or make a change in my life, she will kick in with the jokes. But in all seriousness mid-life crises are for real. At a certain age, we can fall susceptible to looking at our age, what we have or have not accomplished and what we would like to accomplish and all of a sudden a real “mid-life” crisis erupts.
But here is something that I have thought about for a few years now. If individuals can have a mid-life crisis, can relationships also have a mid-marriage crisis? Is there a point where our marriage relationship makes assessments about where we are and where we are going and then slips into crisis mode?
You probably have guessed that I think that such a thing can exist. The reality is, when we get married we chart a course either on paper or in our heads of where we are going and when we will get there. However, the crisis kicks in, when we look back at our marriage and don’t feel we are getting “there” fast enough. Then, we look down the road and we are not so certain that we will ever reach the “place” we have envisioned for our marriage. Or, we encounter personality, parenting or financial differences that were outside of our initial plan. These are realities that many marriages are familiar with. So how then do we avoid having a mid-marriage crisis?
- Action Plan. I am a huge proponent of having written goals. But as important as having goals is, having a plan for achieving goals – an action plan – is equally important. It can be a real source of hurt when we dream and hope for things that never come. So for the things that are important, the things that God has placed on your heart: What small steps need to be incorporated in your daily routine to lead to the fulfillment of your dreams?
- Share Dreams. Have frequent conversations like: Where are we going. What do we want to accomplish together. What kind of lifestyle do we want to have and what legacy do we want to leave through our marriage. They can sound crazy to every one else, but the dreams you create with your spouse become a glue for your relationship.
- What is important. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. A nice car or a nice house don’t define a Christian’s walk with the Lord. If you live in a small house or a big house is not what determines your position in Christ. But what’s important about possessions is, why do we want, what we want? Read: Check out, Proverbs 16: Planning For Your Marriage
- Perspective. Every marriage is different and we have to keep a good perspective of what God has brought us through in our own marriage situation. Comparing our marriage to other marriages is an enormous undue pressure on us. But when we think about what God has brought us through, we regain a perspective filled with thanks-giving, for what God has brought us through and where we are in our marriage.
- Enjoy What You Have. Paul says, in Philippians 4:11-12 that he has learned to be content all circumstances, whether in prosperity or in need. Likewise, be content in what, where and who you are in our marriage. If God blesses you with “niceties” – enjoy them. On the other hand, where we don’t have the nicest car on the block – enjoy that too. Every time I go to work, I park my paid for 12 year old Honda in between two big luxury cars with a bunch of numbers and letters on the back of them. It is a constant reminder to be content with where you are in Christ.
- Build healthy friendships with other couples. Having other couples to hangout with is really crucial. Without friends, our marriage becomes an island. And if you have ever seen an episode of Gilligan’s Island, LOST, or the movie Castaway – then you know two things, (1) being on the island is boring (2) everyone wants to get off the island.
- Enjoy God – together. Time can work to pull us away from our spouse. Keep God as that common bond. It is a fluid relationship, sometime He will feel real close, other times he won’t.
- Annual Vacation. We need time to reset, to refocus, and just to simply enjoy each other. Make it a priority to get away at least once a year. It is three months of looking forward and counting down to the time away and several months glowing about how great it was to get away.
- Stay/Get Healthy Together. A relationship finds freshness when you both are feeling good and feeling good about each other. Staying healthy can become a lifestyle that keeps you connected. Recently, I received a huge box of okra and other fresh vegetables from my uncle’s “farm”. My wife and I have enjoyed finding cool ways to cook all this food – before it goes bad. It is part of a healthier lifestyle and it keeps us connected as we discover just how many ways you can cook eggplant and okra.
- Tackle Debt. Remove debt and your marriage is different! Financial discussions are pleasant, a night on the town is fun without concern about a huge credit card bill. Removing debt brings about freedom to become more intimate without financial worry in the way. Read: How Would Being Debt Free Change Your Marriage
- Stay Spiritually Healthy. To every challenge, Jesus is the answer. Beyond just going to church, keeping Christ in the marriage is essential to staying healthy and connected. Read: 16 Ways to Keep God in the Center of Your Marriage
How about you, have you ever felt the constraints of a “mid-marriage crisis”? How did/do you fight through it?