I heard a young woman on the radio the other day discussing how she had turned around her marriage. The bloom had come off the rose and the marriage was in a rut – nothing dramatically awful but no excitement either. To quote the disillusioned wife, she loved her husband but was no longer “in love” with him. She was frustrated by her situation and the future seemed long and dreary.

One of the main reasons for her dissatisfaction was that her husband didn’t initiate romantic outings or adventures and was content to let their relationship proceed apace at the level of comfort and ease that had been established. She wanted more and was waiting for him to provide it.

One day she had an “aha” moment and realized that she didn’t have to wait for him; she could take the initiative. You wouldn’t think this would be such a shocking recognition but I hear a similar complaint from young women all the time. “He should plan our dates.” “He should figure out where to go.” “He should provide witty and stimulating conversation.” (Where is feminism when you need it?!)

But back to our story. After the light bulb went off, our subject acted. She planned picnics and concerts and dinner dates and quiet nights walking along the water and special dinners at home and on and on. Before you knew it, the spark was back in their marriage and it has stayed lit ever since.

What was her succinct summary of the problem? “I was a lazy wife.”

What was her succinct summary of the problem? “I was a lazy wife.” Wow. It’s not just her. It struck me that I am also a lazy wife – if not in this specific area but perhaps in others. We get complacent. Things seem fine. And then slowly, subtly, we stop making an effort. It doesn’t seem necessary. Things are stable and good. But, as with everything in life, there is no stable plateau. We are either growing or regressing; we are either moving forwards or we are moving backwards. Nothing stays in one place for very long. And of course, this is also true for lazy husbands.

We can’t take our marriages and relationships for granted. We need to make an effort. And it needs to be constant. Yes, we’re tired at night but I still need to be attentive if my husband wants to talk and, as is more frequently the case in many marriages, he needs to muster his focus if she is the more communicative one. Yes, the children are pulling on us and their needs are overwhelming, but we need to carve out time for each other – on a daily basis in small doses and away from home wherever possible (despite their complaints!!) Yes, our jobs are demanding and there are deadlines to be met and bills to be paid, but when our productive years start winding down, it’s not our jobs that will provide comfort, solace and companionship in our old age. We need to plant those seeds now and nourish them regularly. Yes, every aspect of life is coming at us with whirlwind speed as the world and information and our family’s needs seem to spin out of control, but we need to slow it down and take some time to focus on each other.

Each couple has to do what works for them depending on the age of their children, their jobs, their location etc. but we all need to do it. We all need to prioritize and put our marriage at the top. This is not the relationship that can be put on the back burner while we attend to all others. This is the most complicated, important, demanding – and, hopefully, rewarding relationship we have. We need to give it our all.