Christian Living


Be a Cheerleader in Your Marriage

Dr. David Hawkins - Marriage 911 Blogger

On a recent business trip to Atlanta, my wife, Christie, and I splurged and booked a room in a swanky, boutique hotel. We knew we’d be tired by the end of the day, and decided that staying in a nice place would be one way to pamper ourselves just a bit.

As the taxi dropped us off in front of the hotel, the ornate architecture suggested class. After a long and tiring flight, we were ready for some special care. As we excitedly stepped up to the front desk, however, we had to make an extra effort to get the clerk’s attention.

Looking up he barely broke a smile as he mumbled the words, “Can I help you?”

We offered our names.

He said nothing, and busied himself making our room keys.
“Room 202, second floor, elevator’s down the hall on the right. Continental breakfast is from eight to ten in the lobby.”

Making our way up to our room, my wife and I wondered aloud if we had made a big mistake.

“Wow,” I said. “I expected to be treated like royalty for the price we paid. He sure wasn’t very pleasant.”

“The hotel seems nice enough,” Christie added, “but he sure soured my first impression. Let’s hope it gets better from here.”

“You know,” I continued, “he could have made such a different impression if he had smiled, asked about our trip and where we were from, and made a few nice comments about his lovely hotel. He could have bragged about his wonderful city, and suggested some sights for us to see. He missed a huge opportunity.”

First impressions, as well as second and third impressions, are critical in the hospitality industry, and in marriage. In a recent book of mine, Nine Critical Mistakes Most Couples Make, I share the importance of championing your mate—a lost art in many marriages. Sadly, many couples have slipped into the kind of behavior offered by our hotel clerk: a blasé attitude, or worse, a critical spirit. It doesn’t take too many negative encounters to spoil an experience.

Each of us ends our day at the office, or tending children and their needs, hungry for affection and attention. We need to be admired, appreciated and yes, even offered a bit of cheerleading. We often “forget” to do those small things, and they add up to something much bigger and serious.

Consider this entry to our Message Board:
I have been married for nearly 8 years now. My wife and I are both Christians. We have never had anything come easy in our marriage it has always been a struggle to do the same things that normal Christians do, we try twice as hard and only come up with half of the results. She is in the ministry and she has fallen out of love with me and states that I am just a friend to her. She states that she should be happy since she is in the ministry and she is not so it must be my fault. We have a son, whom we both love dearly and I love her dearly. She tells me there is someone else that she has feelings for other than me. She states that she has not acted upon it because she realizes it would ruin her ministry. How can I get my wife to fall in love with me all over again? I cannot imagine living without her!

Several things jump out at me about this email.

First, while you may seem like you’re trying twice as hard as others, with half the results, I doubt this is the case. Everyone I know with a vibrant marriage is working at it. It’s never easy. There are no shortcuts, and no time when we can coast. It takes work—always and forever.

Second, I’m not sure anyone “falls” out of love, but rather, when a relationship is not tended properly, one or both partners can have a change of heart. This usually happens gradually, and the good news is that this can be prevented, and in many cases, corrected. You must become a student of your mate and your relationship, carefully examining what has happened, or not happened, to keep the romantic flame alive.

Third, I’m not surprised to hear that there is another person in the picture. When unhappy, we often look to see if the grass is greener. Of course, most often it is not. She says she has not acted on those feelings, and assuming this to be true, there may still be time to save your marriage.

Finally, you must take immediate action. You must meet your wife at her point of need. You must become the champion that she needs. You must stop doing those things that pull a marriage down, such as making critical comments, taking her for granted, making demands instead of requests, and forgetting to champion her. You must begin, one step at a time, to encourage her, treat her as the special person she is, and consistently strive to bring new life into your marriage. Guard your tongue and remember that every word counts.

The Apostle Paul implores us to be encouraging with our speech, that it may benefit those who hear. (Ephesians 4: 29) Undoubtedly this describes your wife.

With diligence, and steadfast prayer, there may be time to save your marriage. Keep your expectations simple, your demands few, and your hopes high. Worship with her, pray with her as she is willing, and ask God to renew your heart and spirit. One person, with God’s help, can change a marriage.  

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