Is Your Marriage Comfortable...or In a Rut?

The differing perspectives of men and women has ceased to amaze me. This is probably because I have talked to so many couples and seen so many examples that I finally believe that all the stereotypes are true. There are exceptions, of course, but most couples fall into the typical "men function and think one way and women operate an entirely different way" patterns.

An example: how men and women view the concept of a "comfortable, conflict-free marriage."

Couple-on-couch-back-heads-380pix1 For most men, if the relationship is free of conflict and tension, then things are great. I don't know if this is because our standards are so low, but, from a man's perspective, if there is peace, then things are great.

On the other hand, most women would never think of using a "conflict-free" marriage as the standard for satisfaction in the home. They want so much more than that. Fellas, you would be wise to note that.

Gary Smalley puts it this way: he says that God has given the wife an overwhelming desire to have an amazing, powerful and intimate connection with her husband. And God has also given her a built-in barometer to let her know if she has one or not. The application: just because things are comfortable doesn't mean that she's even close to satisfied with the marriage. Instead, it's likely she feels that the marriage is in a rut. A man would never think this way.

Another example that comes to mind is the simple "rate your marital satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10" test. When I ask couples to do this without knowing their partner's number, I can usually expect the wife's number to come in two or three points below their husband's. Again, what he sees as comfortable, she sees as "we could do better."

One more example: consider YOUR relationship. Have you ever heard something like these statements come out of one of your mouths? Things like: "I feel distant from you," or "We haven't connected in a while," or "I feel like we're just managing our life and not having a marriage." When somebody says that, who is saying it?

I bet you a million dollars that 95% of the time, it's the wife. Guys just don't say stuff like that. It's not because we don't care or don't agree (we usually do), it's just that we don't notice it as quickly as our wives do. And we are not near as apt to bring it up. Again, as long as things are comfortable, we are usually just content to coast.

Does this make us bad people? No. But it does require us to do something about it. And ladies, you can help.

Guys, we must be willing to take the first steps to move things from "comfortable" to "incredible" in our married lives. When you see things moving in the "ho-hum" direction, we must be willing to say something or do something that generates the kind of love and intimacy that our wives crave from us. She will notice when you do it and it will likely surprise the snot out her. But the blessing will be worth it.

And ladies, you must be willing to extend us some grace. Just because our tolerance for the comfortable is greater than yours, it doesn't mean we don't care. In fact, it usually means that we are completely at ease with you, seeing you as a great strength in our lives. Don't move us out of the rut through confrontation. That can sometimes feel like you are picking a fight...and we HATE fighting with you. Just say something like: "I love nothing more than being close to you and I feel like we aren't right now. What can we do to fix that?" (The answer to that question might involve sex, but that's a different blog post.)

For both genders, the starting place for any solution might be a good conversation. For starters, just ask the question: "Is our marriage comfortable...or in a rut?" 

So, what can we learn from this reality? It is that