Health in marriage is important. Physical health, mental health, emotional health, financial health, and, yes, the all-important sexual health. Each of these areas can impact the marriage positively as well as negatively. Very little can try a union in the way declining health in any of these five can. We could talk about the whys and the hows of this truth, but we really covered that topic well on day one of the union. You remember the promise: “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”. We are not negating the serious effect these issues have even after the “promise”. However, because of the promise, the marriage may be tried, but the marriage BOND remains strong and often strengthened by these challenges. But if health issues are straining the marriage bond, then the real issue lies deeper. Let’s discuss that “deeper”, “real” issue which actually pre-dates the health issue.
We are talking about the health of the marriage itself. While we are watching the cholesterol, counting the calories and checking the fat content - while we are stepping on the scale and checking the mirror - while we are meditating, medicating, exercising, building it up, keeping it up, lifting it up, and checking it up - have we missed something? Have we failed to monitor the one area of health that holds the fate of our marriage? A healthy marriage is a strong marriage, and a strong marriage survives. Anything!
While we ask our partner, “How are you doing?”, we may need to pause a moment and ask, “How are WE doing?” Is our marriage healthy?
Say what? Yes, just as you know your body. When you are tired, you recognize fatigue. When there is pain, you recognize the discomfort. You don’t need a thermometer to tell you something is wrong. You go get the thermometer because you already know something is not right. The thermometer is just one instrument used to help diagnose. Marital health in one area can and most likely will affect health in other areas. Do we need an example? If your communication is weak, there is a good chance your sex life is impacted. I often inform men that the countenance of your wife is a public display of your success in husbanding.
We are the mirror for one another. That requires we keep the mirror clean. No one trusts a dirty mirror. Dirty mirrors give a distorted reflection, and therefore cannot be trusted. If your opinion in regards to the physical, emotional and psychological health of your spouse is already distorted due to over-exaggeration, narcissistic agendas, nagging, compulsive negativism, you have discovered a symptom of a health deficiency in your marriage.
If you have been married for any length of time, you are not the same two people you were when you met. Issues will arise. Your spouse IS sharing his or her issues. If they are not sharing with you, there is a problem. Question: Do you still talk to each other? Do you enjoy hanging out together? Would you rather hang out with your friends than your spouse on a regular basis? Do you still make love, or do you come together to enjoy sex? There IS a difference. If you don’t know the difference, then you have just identified another problem.
Is your marriage youthful, vibrant and exciting? Or is it comfortable, bland and predictable? Or is it withering away on life support? I have news for you. The age of your marriage is NOT the determining factor of the state of your marriage. Is your marriage healthy? It is what it is, but it should not remain as it is. I do need to add this caveat: Some health concerns just need first aid while others require a professional. A coach, a counselor, a therapist, a pastor or maybe even an exorcist. Do your checkup and please address what you find. If you need help, get it. Your marriage is worth it.
I digress. With any living thing, exercise of its vital functions is essential to its health. The marriage is no different. Exercise is vital to the overall health of your marriage. The principles of physical exercise still apply. The exercise must be consistent until it becomes habitual. Exercise by design is difficult. The more you push, the greater the benefit. The more you do it, the more you have to do to get tired, and the more you will enjoy it.
Here is your exercise equipment: Grab your spouse and lift them. Grab them with your heart, your emotions, your being (come on, it’s a metaphor - work with me here). I am grabbing my wife, so I will speak of her in the feminine. That “grab” will look different for each of us. Do you have your grip? Now lift. Lift her head, lift her heart, lift her day, lift her smile, lift her spirits - lift her. Wherever she is emotionally, elevate her. There is something heavy we all carry. Lift it off her. Help her lift it or at least let her know that she is not carrying it alone.
Healthy marriages, like healthy bodies, don’t just happen. Healthy today does not automatically equate to healthy tomorrow. Faithful exercise, monitoring and reliable checkups are required. If a healthy marriage is your goal, the best time to start is at the beginning. The second best time to start is always right now. Enjoy!
Rev. Grayson is the pastor of Israel Chapel CME Church in Oklahoma City. This article originally appeared in Lover's Laine Lifestyle Magazine (used with permission).
Let us aspire to understand the times and know what we
(1 Chronicles 12:32)