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I never meant to stop choosing my husband. But somehow, it happened.
I don’t remember when it started for us, but I know when I noticed it. It was about six years into marriage, with one toddler, and a new baby due any day.
Affection felt routine. Every screen I owned was full of our daughter’s pictures—no longer us. Date nights fell off the map because we were “fine.” We don’t need dates, I thought. Plus, it’s sooooooo much work now with babysitters and schedules. We can skip it for a while. It’s fine.
Work started to come home with me more and more, and I let it. The roommate effect—that I had sworn would never be us—was subtly setting in.
My husband & I weren’t fighting. We were functioning on everything we had to do to keep the details of our life moving, but that was it.
Until one day, I noticed. Maybe I had noticed before, but this time, I noticed and felt it.
Something was missing.
I remembered how good we were before. How excited I was about us. It hit me strangely because I wasn’t actually any less excited now. Nothing about us had changed. Nothing was even wrong!
I still felt inspired by our life plans. I loved watching him as a dad. I was often dreaming about where we’d travel to next. Life had just become so full. I didn’t have the margin to appreciate everything I still loved. If I paused, I could find the good, but it felt like I never had time to notice much less the energy to enjoy it.
I was tired. Operating on autopilot. And despite being ridiculously precious, having kids felt consuming.
I know some marriages are legitimately in a much worse position, but I can’t help but wonder if we sometimes get to a bad spot unnecessarily because we don’t treat the “small things” seriously. We let “harmless” distance and “normal” stress or apathy in, and it starts to subtly send us to scarier places.
We follow Jesus, so we’ve always said divorce will never be an option for us. But I started to realize—that’s just not enough. Vowing against divorce does not guarantee a good marriage.
Marriage is a covenant—a forever-binding commitment meant to be so much better and stronger than just not ending. It’s meant to thrive with intimacy, teamwork, empathy, fun, and connection. We’re to be each others’ deepest allies, friends, advocates, encouragers, fans, freedom fighters, inspiration, and delight.
It’s not enough to just say, we will never split. We have to say, we will fight to stay great.
Thankfully, following Jesus means we are not in that fight alone. Over the course of a year, God began lining up shift after shift that was softening my heart and drawing us back together. Because I was finally noticing, I listened.
The Bible has this intense word that’s often misunderstood called “repent.” It’s usually thrown around with intensity and shame, but it’s actually a really freeing word. It is simple. It means to change directions. To intentionally choose to turn back to God, to turn away from whatever is hurting you or against His design. I began to repent of how familiar and casual I’d let our relationship become.
I noticed work held way too big a role in my life. So, for my husband (and many other reasons), I began to pull back. We stopped turning on a show as soon as the kids were in bed and started turning to each other instead. I noticed I’d usually give a quick, passing kiss far more often than a real one. I apologized to him for it and began to change.
For some reason, the most meaningful switch was the simplest one. I changed my computer background to one of my favorite pictures of us. All of my backgrounds and screensavers were our daughter (because, I mean, come on, she’s insanely cute…) But at the moment I felt prompted to switch it, I knew it mattered.
It was a choice much deeper than whose face I wanted to see when I opened my computer. It was a reminder of who I chose first. That (after God) I choose him first. I want to choose him first. Everything else in my life is better because of him and how well we choose each other first.
The final shift was a dramatic one—one I hope doesn’t fall on anyone else. At the end of our second pregnancy, I was a week overdue. My husband fell weirdly sick. The doctors even suggested deathly sick. It’s a crazy story, but because of all the other aligning God had been doing in my heart, I responded in a totally different way. My heart was soft. I wasn’t afraid of losing him, but it was a clarifying moment—once and for all that he was my priority.
For the days he was sick (while I was 41 weeks pregnant, may I remind you), the crazy doctor diagnoses that were thrown our way, and the many prayers for him to get better in the last few hours before the baby was born, my biggest prayer was to fully choose him. That this next baby would mark a new season in our life of focus on only what matters. I don’t know why it takes me life or death scares sometimes to remember what I actually care about, but it worked.
Now when I notice I’m not feeling it, I choose him. I choose to look him in the eye. To show real passion—no more casual or obligatory affection. To believe him when he compliments me and not dismiss it. To move closer to him on the couch instead of letting inches separate us for no reason. To acknowledge him when he walks in the door instead of continuing to do whatever I was doing. To flirt and have more fun. To affirm him for all the things I appreciate and not let them go unspoken. To quit being stubborn when we’re fighting and remember that I love him more than I am annoyed. To ruthlessly and regularly unbusy ourselves so we don’t miss what we have.
These shifts might seem SUPER simple, but I have a hunch that the big marriage problems start with small ones like these. I’m so grateful we stopped to notice. Our marriage is so much better. Our family culture is better. I think our kids notice it and feel more secure. They’re crazy affectionate, and I sometimes wonder if it’s because affection between us is real again. Our joy level soars in comparison.
I wanted to write this for myself as much as anyone, because I know this won’t be the last time I get too busy or have to make this choice. So I write to remind myself to make it again and again—when the next baby comes, when the next trial hits, when our kids grow old—and every day in between.
I choose God. I choose you. I choose us.