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[updated: 5/8/19]

How many times have you heard these words from a married or divorced friend, “We just grew apart,” as if it was completely out of their control?

Or how about, “Our love just died,” as if “love” was supposed to just naturally carry on without any effort, without any nourishment or care?

What happens to a potted plant if you don’t water it?

Relationships are just like that.

Love doesn’t just die, it’s killed, either through abuse or neglect.

It’s likely you’ll fall deeply in love with your future spouse long before marriage is proposed. Part of that experience will involve spending considerable time with them and perhaps even more time just thinking about them.

If you stop investing that kind of time after the wedding day, don’t be shocked when you no longer feel as close to your spouse. It’s only natural.

The same is true in your relationship with God. In the rush of emotion upon accepting Jesus’ offer of salvation, many young believers pray to God a lot and think about Him even more. They can’t believe a God like ours would save someone like them. How could you not meditate continually on a God like that?

Then come “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches,” which threaten to all but choke the life out of that relationship (Matt 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8). These trials are meant to inspire me to press into my dear Savior all the more fervently, but the deceiver convinces me I can’t press into someone with so many demands pressing in on me.

And so God and I “grow apart.”

No matter how much time you spend with your love, you can’t expect to feel the electricity of romance every day of your marriage. (Well you can, but you’ll be disappointed.) Expecting romance to define every day of your married life would be like expecting the trees to bloom in every season. You’ve got to learn to find the beauty in each season of life, even in winter when it seems everything has died.

You should grow closer to your spouse year after year as you get to know them better. However, that won’t happen if you say, “I do” and then don’t continue to spend time with them.The same is true in your love relationship with God. If you expect to ride the high of salvation all the way into heaven, you may not understand the reason why you were saved in the first place.

Do you see the parallel?

Committing to grow together (instead of apart) in your relationship with God is preparing you to do the same in your future marriage.

Parallel 1) You don’t get married to enjoy a life of wondrous wedded bliss.

In the same way…

You don’t get saved to enjoy a life of spiritual ecstasy.

Parallel 2) You get married to start a new life, living as one with your spouse; committing to put their needs ahead of your own, and endeavoring to do the same for your children.

In the same way…

You get saved to start a new life, living as one with your Creator; committing to submit your will to His, and encouraging others to do the same.

Parallel 3) It’s only when you live like this that you find you grow closer to your spouse year after year, in spite of unforeseen roadblocks, emotional lows and spiritual dry spells.

In the same way…

It is only when you live like this that you find you grow closer to God year after year, in spite of unforeseen (to you) roadblocks, emotional lows and spiritual dry spells.

[If this post caused you to grow in your understanding of what God wants to do in your life, determine to grow deeper! This is an excerpt of the 2nd book in our discipleship series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. So seriously consider purchasing a digital copy and you will learn three key life disciplines for relational success; habits best best forged BEFORE you fall in love. Even before you date! Find out more or purchase the book at this link.]

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.

Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!

[originally published: June 6, 2013]