The #6 most referenced reason Marriage Gets Messy: Complacency.
Complacency makes messes in many areas of marraige.
Shauna Shanks has graciously shared an excerpt from her newly released book, A Fierce Love, with us that shows the most important way to combat complacency. Much like Karen shared with us a couple of weeks ago, God restored Shauna’s marriage after adultery, but not before teaching her some crucial lessons about how our Spiritual walk can be an indicator of so many other messes in our lives. And how curing complacency in our walk with God can clean up many of those other messes, too!
An Excerpt on Complacency from A Fierce Love
It would have been easy to pin the failure of our marriage on Micah, on the most obvious problem at the time: infidelity.
It would have also been wrong.
I became heartbroken to realize my own failures and shortcomings. I discovered the sin in my own heart that had contributed to this failure. I was not blameless here.
One particular night, I wrote in my journal about how unbearable it was for me to witness the way Micah was acting. That night Micah had been watching football on the couch across from me, yelling carefree at the screen and casually playing on his phone like nothing was amiss. Just like any other normal day. He acted completely unaffected by the breakdown in our relationship, and that hurt beyond words.
Here sat this person who had stood at an altar and professed to love me. Yet his behavior proclaimed an attitude of blatant indifference toward me. Those are the actual words I wrote down in my journal. “Blatant indifference.” It was as if he couldn’t care less one way or the other about me. Not even one little tear that our ten years together was over. Nothing. Not one emotion. Just indifference.
Only a few days later God revealed to me that He Himself had the same complaint against me.
It wasn’t just the last few days that I held this attitude, but rather the last several years. “What was the term you used?” I felt the conviction of God. “Blatant indifference?”
God’s gentle conviction touched me in the deepest places, “You made a commitment to follow me, serve me, and love me. You surrendered and dedicated your life to me. You professed to give yourself over to me, to use your life for my glory, to be passionate about me and spend time with me. And what do you do? You fill up your time up with complacency and laziness. None of the things you do matter apart from me. Yet all the while you ignore me. You confess with your mouth that you love me, but you are acting toward me just like Micah is toward you. There is no difference. You are living here, showing me no affection. No time. No attention. You are blatantly indifferent.”
Ouch. That message pierced my heart. What did it matter that Micah had hurt me if I had hurt God? I was a sinner. I had been so unfaithful, maybe not to Micah, but to God Himself.
My unfaithfulness is what had been the most wrong in my past, in my marriage, and in my promise to God to live for Him.
When I turned thirty, I was not exactly in the best place of my life. I was embarrassed by what I had become. I wasn’t anything too terrible on the outside, like a murderer or arsonist, I just hadn’t really become….anything.
I had a problem with Netflix binging. I wasn’t living the life I was given to the fullest.
I don’t know when everything began to spiral into a careless halt, but the breaks of caring had been turned on for some time. I had given my heart to Jesus as a little girl, even doing missions work in my teen and college years, but clearly by the time I hit thirty I wasn’t exactly up there with any of the great saints yet.
I wasn’t trying to do much with my life. I was watching Mad Men. That’s what I was doing.
Now, to some this may not seem like that big of a deal. I was still a good person, after all. I took good care of my kids, I volunteered at my church.
But this lazy and passive behavior became corruption in my life. Revelation 3:15 addresses this. “I know your deeds,that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!”
If you keep reading that same passage you’ll find the consequences of these “not a big deal” sins are pretty severe. In fact, it turns out luke-warm-ness, or laziness, it’s actually a really big deal to the Lord.
It hurt to hear God use my own term, “blatant indifference” about myself, but it was true.
These revelations turned out to be the kindest thing He could have done for me.
Do you know what it did? It took my eyes off of Micah. I started searching into my own self, realizing how far from God I had traveled. I stopped feeling so hurt that Micah had hurt me and instead felt burdened that I had done this to my God.
How could I despise Micah for doing something that I myself was guilty of on a much more significant scale? I couldn’t be that other person anymore.
I had to be reborn.
Shauna Shanks is a wife, mother, blogger and entrepreneur. She started Smallfolk, a health food café, out of her passion for health and fitness and unchecked desire to make fancy pop tarts. Shauna and her husband, Micah, who is a police officer, have been married for more than a decade, and they are building a house out of shipping containers with their three boys on an Ohio farm.
In her newly released book, A Fierce Love, Shauna shares an intimate season after finding out her husband was having an affair. She writes about her journey of discovering the Love Filter in 1 Corinthians 13 and describes what followed as a crash course in the ludicrousness of God’s love.
This book was written in the midst of Shauna’s deepest trauma, and she purposefully did not edit out her mistakes and failures during that season. It will resonate with women who do not feel like the picture-perfect Christian woman with the fairytale life and marriage. A Fierce Love is the story of a train wreck and reaching out to God not in the calm but in the chaos and finding hope for the future.
Complacency creates all sorts of complications, but pointing fingers rarely solves problems or overcomes the messes in marriage. As Shauna pointed out, looking inward was the impetus for real change in the way she viewed her marriage. She was reborn spiritually, and in the process God breathed new life into her relationship with her husband, too.
Has complacency corrupted your commitment to your mate?
Let’s look at three ways to avoid apathy in our own marriages.
The AAA Cure for Complacency
When our marriages feel messy, we more likely to point out faults than appreciate any effort put forth by our spouse. But this one step can transform the way we think. Gratitude literally changes our attitude. And just wait until you see the change in your spouse when you notice and mention, even the small things he does, to support and love you.
We have a decorative dry erase board that sits prominently in our home. On it is the prompt, “I love you because…” We take turns writing something the other person has done. Right now, it says, “I love you because… you made room in the garage for my car.” Over the years, the hand scrawled messages have ranged from minuscule to monumental.
But every time I see my husband’s hand writing on the board, I get a little thrill. Even before I read what he’s written. Because I know he took the time to locate the marker (we have kids, you know that thing won’t stay put), wipe off the good deed I previously praised him for, and replace it with a new note on the glass. It means he noticed something I did for him and appreciated it enough to mention it. That encourages me to keep on doing things I know he will notice.
Appreciating small acts is an antidote to apathy.
I get it. I really do. Life happens and leaves little left over for loving our husbands well. But if doing something nice for our mate takes more energy than we’re willing to put forth, not only has complacency crept in to our marriage, but it could signal a struggle in your priorities, too. We’ll talk about that more in a couple of weeks.
Taking action is the antithesis to apathy. Just do it. Do something nice. It doesn’t have to be a huge production. You don’t even have to dream it up on your own. One of the wisest pieces of marital advice I’ve ever received was to ask my husband each day what I can do to help him. First thing in the morning (or perhaps after coffee), simply ask what he needs from you. Then act. Do one thing intentionally for your husband Every. Single. Day. Find out what his love language is and do that for him. If you need some more ideas, my friend Betsy at Faith Spilling Over has some simple suggestions for making your marriage better.
Intentional action keeps you from being a lazy lover.
One of the best benefits of marriage is the way a husband and wife become more comfortable with each other over the years. The more we learn and the more confident we become in our commitment to each other the better our relationship should become. But we have to be careful not to let this comfort cross over into complacency.
It would be really easy to read this post and then duck back into our old, tired lives without anybody being the wiser. But that won’t make the messes go away. When we are really serious about overcoming the messes complacency makes in our marriage, we’ll find an accountability partner or mentor couple to keep us honest. This is one way our inner circle can help us keep the fire kindled. Find someone who will not only ask if you’re actively appreciating and taking action but challenge you to do more. It is too easy to let things slide when nobody is looking.
Committed couples counteract complacency through accountability.
When complacency is the culprit for messes in your marriage, appreciate, act and be accountable to rekindle your relationship.
Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
4. Misaligned Priorities
3. Yoked Unequally
2. Communication Breakdown
and the #1 reason marriage gets messy is because God Isn’t Invited
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.