Has your marriage drifted apart, been a constant fight, headed towards divorce or separation? If you answered yes to any of these questions you need to put your focus back on your marriage.
Before a couple can refocus themselves on the intimacy between them, they must make sure that no intimacy is being lost outside of the marriage. An escape is an intimacy leak. It is essentially any behavior we take when we don’t know how to talk about our uncomfortable feelings with our spouse. These behaviors are conscious or unconscious ways to avoid dealing with each other. We either withdraw inside ourselves or we go elsewhere looking to get our needs met. Whatever we choose, we drain the relationship of its intimacy until it becomes lifeless. We, in effect, have filed for an ‘invisible divorce’.
There are varying degrees of escape. Some are terminal such as divorce, which permanently ends the relationship. Others are catastrophic, backup plans which seriously damage a relationship to a degree which is often irreparable. Examples of these would include both emotional and physical affairs, excessive use of pornography or lots of contact with “friends” of the opposite sex. The remaining backup plans are less severe but are so hurtful that they can do equal damage in the long run. These escapes can be intentional, a feeling expressed as a behavior with the clear motivation to avoid involvement with your spouse, or they can be functional, a behavior you enjoy but your involvement in the activity clearly takes energy and time away from the relationship. Examples would include television, video games or activities your spouse doesn’t enjoy.
While some of these examples are valid forms of recreation, if one of the reasons you are doing this activity is to avoid spending time with your spouse, it is considered an escape and robs your relationship of intimacy.
Here is a list of common escapes that can rob your marriage of intimacy:
6. Television, Music, Video Games
9. Headphones to avoid talking or other interaction
12. Talking on the phone
13. Going to bed at different times
There are surely other escapes that do not appear on this list. Whatever they are, it is important to recognize them and understand that these are forms of “acting out” your frustrations about your marriage. Just as our children may “act out” when they are hungry or not getting enough attention, adults react similarly when their needs are not being met. When we feel unloved, ignored, or unappreciated we go everywhere but to our spouse to get those needs met. We find others and/or other activities that will meet those needs or we withdraw within ourselves, feeling hopeless about ever possibly getting what we want.
Talk about your feelings with your spouse and a professional counselor or your pastor. Without out resolution the wounds will fester and the marriage will die.
Are you doing any of these things in your marriage? Did I miss something on the list, let me know.