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How to Get Out of "Survival Mode" in Your Marriage (Part 1)

Are you investing in your marriage?


I don’t mean score-keeping.

“I cleaned out the car, so HE can make dinner tonight.” “I’ve had a hard day at work, so SHE can rub my feet and love me in the bedroom.” (If you or your spouse keep score in your marriage, listen to THIS podcast.)


I don’t mean “spicing things up” in your marriage, either.

Sexual intimacy is the thermometer of the relationship, NOT the thermostat. In other words, sex shouldn’t set the temperature; it should gauge the temperature, and if things between you and your spouse have been cold lately, sex won’t fix it. You must get to the root of the intimacy issues. (For more on this, read Let’s Talk About Sex and Why Isn’t Sex with My Spouse Satisfying?)


I don’t even mean financially investing.

(But, if finances are a source of stress in your marriage, check THIS out.)


I mean the kind of investment that changes your marriage; conforming it to reflect God’s purposes, not your own or the world’s.

Perhaps you and your spouse are in “survival mode,” deep down wondering, Is this it? Is this all our marriage will be? If marital inflation is slowly bankrupting your marriage, it’s time to invest.

But first… what is marital inflation?

I’m glad you asked.

Think of it this way: when we were young and in love, kisses were free and frequent. We always wanted to give more of whatever made our beloved happy. But now (if we’re honest), those simple things cost a lot more to give. Built-up anger, frustration, bitterness, and hurt make investing in our spouse emotionally, physically, and spiritually extremely difficult.

Nothing is free anymore.

Inflation is deflating our marriage.


It’s Time to Invest

Think about our nation’s economy: investments change. The market may be up today and down tomorrow, or vice versa, but it’s never inactive.


Marriage is like that- always in motion. We’re either moving toward each other or away from each other; there is no neutral ground.
If you want to move toward each other, you must invest in God’s goals for your marriage, NOT your personal ones.

For example

Let’s look to the apostle Paul as an example.

Paul, author of much of the New Testament, was a man of investment. Intentional. Goal-oriented. Always striving to do good in the sight of others. He says so himself in Philippians 3:4-6.


But God…

(I just love those two words put together!)

God met him on the road to Damascus, grabbed hold of his heart, and made him physically blind for three days in order to gain spiritual sight. (Read the story in Acts 22:3-21.) With this experience, Paul learned his old way of looking at life was worthless.

All of his self righteous investments amounted to nothing.

Once he met God, listened to Him, and understood who He was, Paul's first question to Him was: “What do you want me to do?” (Acts 22:10).

(I imagine we would react similarly if we were standing before God Almighty, Creator of us and all the universe, and He was speaking directly to us.)

God answers him clearly (Acts 22:10, 18, and 21). He gives Paul a new purpose for his life: to build God’s kingdom by sharing His love with others.

It was time for Paul to start investing in something that would last; something eternal.


Run the Race

Paul often parallels us (believers) and runners, and compares our lives to running a race. From Romans to Galatians to 1 Corinthians to Hebrews (and many places in between), he uses this analogy as a call for us to invest ourselves for the good of others; sharing God’s love to build His kingdom. He says:

  • Train yourself to be successful

  • Run your race with endurance

  • Press on towards the goal

  • Do not grow weary

  • Finish the race

We are a goal-oriented society. We make hundreds of decisions every week, each one with specific goals in mind. We invest our energy, money, time, attention, and heart in reaching our desired outcomes.

What’s your goal?

If you were to write down everything on which you spend your energy, money, time, attention, and heart, what would that investment portfolio look like? Your answers reflect your end goal. (More on that in a bit.)


The thing is, you’re not running this race alone.

God has put you and your spouse together: a three-legged race of marriage! Do you know what that means? Your husband/wife deeply feels the effects of EVERY. SINGLE. INVESTMENT. you make during the week.

They can tell when you’re on auto-pilot with them but ALL-IN on your hobby or your job.

They can tell when you aren’t walking the same path together; when one or both of you are veering off, not investing in your marriage or God’s purposes; moving away from one another.

There are two things you and your spouse must consider if you want to stay tethered to one another in this three-legged race of marriage (and enjoy each step!).

We'll cover the first one in this post:


First: Run toward the same goal; invest in God’s purposes.


What’s the goal?

For your marriage to reflect God’s purpose.

What’s God’s purpose for your marriage?

To be a picture of God’s sacrificial love for His Church.

(HERE is a great post for further study on God’s purpose for your marriage.)

Practically speaking, it’s being God-honoring and Spirit-led in all that you say and do. Then you will find unity with your spouse is real, and a passion for God’s purposes and design for marriage takes shape.


Are you and your spouse investing in that goal? Making daily deposits into serving, loving, and honoring your spouse- regardless of his/her actions- in order to glorify God?


This isn’t a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ You need to take an honest assessment of your current investments. After all, we need to know where we’re starting from if we want to reach our goal, right?

So, let’s get to it, because…

When we hang on to our own ideas of what’s important, eyes fixed on our personal goals, we miss the opportunities to see God move in our life and marriage.

I don’t want to miss those opportunities, do you?


Vow to Change: An Encouraging Call to Action

  1. Write down everything on which you spend your energy, money, time, attention, and heart. This list is an honest reflection of our ultimate goals.

  2. If your spouse is willing, both write your answers down separately, then come together and share them with each other. This is NOT to point fingers or make comparisons, so be sure to pray together first: God, please open our eyes to where change is needed in our marriage and lives.

  3. Be faithful and intentional to make the needed changes. Discuss how to implement them. Investment in your marriage is a kingdom investment; God blesses those! (Ephesians 5:15-17)

  4. If you’re not ready to show the list to your spouse, bring it before the Lord and ask Him for wisdom. He will give it freely and abundantly! (James 1:5)

Be a doer, not just a hearer…

If we know God’s Word, but fail to obey, we deceive ourselves (James 1:22-25).

Oy… I’m guilty as charged.

It’s so much easier to say all of this, but God actually wants us to DO it (and HE will help us!).

When we read verses like Galatians 6:2 (bear one another’s burdens) and Matthew 22:39 (love your neighbor as yourself), but fail to do what they say, no investment is made. We can read them over and over, memorize them, hang them on our mirror, but if we don’t put them into action, they become mere words, not life-changing, life-giving investments we choose to make.

It’s so easy to nod in agreement to what God asks of us when we’re listening to Sunday morning’s sermon or men’s/women’s Bible study. The true test comes when we’re asked to live it out. Even when…

  • Your wife has turned off all physical touch

  • Your husband would rather watch football or grab a beer with his buddies than listen to your heavy heart

  • You and your spouse have been living like roommates for several months; paths crossing and schedules synced, but without any spiritual/emotional/physical connection

Galatians 5:16-25 tells us there will always be a war between our flesh and the Spirit. The internal struggle is real. But there is FREEDOM when we walk in step with the Spirit; letting God’s Word determine our path, rather than investing in a path that takes us far from our spouse, far from God.

Being Spirit-led will always bring freedom for us, personally, and freedom for our marriage to be transformed into a picture of God’s abundant and beautiful love for His people.


So, what’s the second thing you and your spouse must consider if you want to stay tethered to one another in this three-legged race of marriage and enjoy each step?

Well, once you’re on the right path together, you must keep your zeal and passion alive.



To go deeper, listen to the corresponding podcast:


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