Step 1 – Understand Entropy
Entropy is a fancy word that comes out of the world of physics and thermodynamics. Put in its simplest terms – “Stuff that is in order now will over time fall into disorder”. In other words, nothing gets better on its own. The barn shown in the image was not built with a leaky roof, missing doors or failing mortar. I’m sure that when it was first constructed, it was a fine looking barn – probably the envy of all the neighbors. But without ongoing maintenance and upkeep, it is now quite dilapidated.
God’s original design for marriage was for a man and a woman to unite in marriage and to become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). But it is important to note that His design was described before the fall of man. We see in Genesis 3, after man sinned and was expelled from the garden, that life would become much tougher. Rocks in the fields, weeds in the crops and pain during childbirth are just a few of the hardships specifically mentioned. It is safe to assume that problems during marriage also originated at this time. I believe this is the point in history where entropy was introduced.
And that is where we find ourselves today. We live in a world where anything subject to neglect will in time degrade to the point that it no longer functions. Marriages are no exception to this. So why do so many couples put their relationships on auto-pilot, putting the bulk of their attentions elsewhere?
We see it all the time. The couple that hasn’t had a date night in years. The couple whose interaction is limited to the brief passing periods between work and running the children from event to event. The couple that can’t remember the last time they made love – not for lack of desire, but rather because they’re seldom alone together. These couples all have one thing in common. They all believe that things will get better in the future. When the kids are older, when work settles down, when the kids go to college, when the finances ease up.
There are at least a couple of bad assumptions in these situations. First, the belief that tomorrow will be radically different than today. Yes, situations change, but new situations always arise. Look backwards in your life and you will recognize this as truth. Waiting for the ideal time to focus on your marriage may never come. Second, the thought that a relationship will be where it was when you “left it on the shelf” is wrong. Just as you can’t let a barn sit for years without ongoing maintenance, you can’t ignore a marriage and assume it will not erode.
Here’s the bottom line. Marriages are hard work. They take time and attention. They must be prioritized. Just as with the barn that is pictured, it takes considerably less effort to do the upkeep as you go rather than wait until it has nearly collapsed. No marriage stays where it is over time. Either you focus on it and make it continually better or you ignore it and it disintegrates. The choice is up to you. Just remember, a non-choice is ultimately a choice for entropy.