Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here are six characteristics of a "coasting couple:"

1. Visual Lethargy
You stop listening to and watching one another carefully. You used to be on the lookout for problems that might arise and then quick to apply the proper remedy. But now things are lazy. There is no "watching". Things begin to creep in the marriage, the schedules get busy, eyes get lazy, and sinful tendencies enter that would never have been tolerated before. If you're here, you have experienced visual lethargy in your marriage.

2. Habit Inconsistency
Marriage necessitates the institution of good habits. The problem is that after a period of time, the marriage is not 'new' anymore and the relationship begins to 'break down' and good habits that once were integral in the marriage are now least important on the priority list. You used to get to the bottom of conflict before even going to bed (cf. Eph 4) but now you're lazy and just go to bed and say you'll talk through it "tomorrow"—which seldom happens. You begin to step away from wholesome communication and say things that would not have been allowed earlier in the marriage. If you're here, you have experienced habit inconsistency in your marriage.

3. Laziness
Lazy marriages doesn't mean that the 'marriage itself' is lazy but it means that the people are lazy. You forget that marriage is hard work. When you just say "it's ok" to everything and overlook every offense, sin, and conflict you know your marriage is suffering from laziness.

4. Impatience
Every marriage between the fall and eternity is in the middle of a lifelong process of change. Your marriage may be better than it once was but it is not yet all it could be. God designed the marriage relationship to grow, sanctify, and mature each person first and foremost in their walk with the Lord. Be patient. Love demands forgiveness and patience (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7).

5. Responding to Discouragement
When you quit responding in faith, hope, and love and begin to respond to one another in discouragement and fear and your practical, everyday responses are formed more by what you are afraid of than by what you hope for you know you are responding to discouragement. Certainly, marriage can be and is often discouraging. But remember, you don't get hope and faith from your husband or wife (=that's idolatry!). Rather, you get it from God Himself. Remember that God is your hope and can allow you to properly and biblically respond to discouraging times.

6. Dining with the Enemy
If you think you have arrived at the end of marriage and if you've let go the good habits that once made your marriage a relationship of unity, understanding and love, you are dining with the enemy. That means you have opened the door to the devil to have an evening of dinner with you and your family. When you quit paying attention, let go of good habits, allow yourself to be lazy and impatient, and respond to discouragement without attempting to make any lasting change then you have invited Satan into your marriage to do what he's best at--deceiving, dividing, and destroying.

I ask you: have you become "coasters" in your marriage? If so, learn from these helpful principles and don't dine with the Devil.

(modified from Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, 236-48)

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