This is a picture of us in 1978…When I look @ that happy couple I see two young people who were clueless about the pressures and stresses heading their way.
Here we are 25 years later…still together, not quite as clueless…
In Mid May, I had a small kitchen remodel project for Bill and Sue. Everything looked solid and normal until we opened up the wall. The 2 by 4′s on the left side of the window had little white bugs on them, and the wood had been turned to paper, it would fall apart when you touched it…..
Their house had Termites
Fortunately, they caught them in time. The exterminator came, did a thorough examination and only found one other spot where they may have been working. He thought they had only been gnawing for maybe 3 years.
I’d never seen termites in action before….they completely destroy a home from inside the walls, they are silent, you never know they are working, unless you know what to look for. I can see why house could suddenly fall into a heap if it had been infested for years.
The exterminator told Bill and Sue, termites are everywhere in the soil of Iowa. You just need to be aware of them, best thing you can do, is look for the little tubes:
picture of termite mud tube on the foundation of a house.
I believe there are “relational termites” you need to watch out for, if you are married. They’re like the wood termites. They quietly eat away @ the structure of your marriage…might be there for years…then one day, you wake up and your standing in a pile of rubble.
(disclaimer- I got this termite analogy from a great book by Charles Swindol on marriage – Strike the Original Match. This is his word picture )
Here are some of the “termites” we’ve encountered in our 30 yrs of marriage:
Children come first termite - The best gift you can give your children is a healthy marriage. Unless you are very careful and intentional about it, once you start having children, it’s very easy for one of the parents to begin placing the demands of their child above everything else. It sounds so noble, and babies do demand a lot of your time and energy- especially at first. Like I told my eldest again recently…you need to keep dating, just the two of you, carving out some one on one alone time. Months can go by without the two of you going out on a date. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money- just take a walk. Barter with another family- you watch their kids while they watch yours. You need to stay engaged with each other on an emotional, relational level. ..talk about your feelings, your thoughts, the highlights and low lights of your day…work @ staying in touch w/ each others lives. Keep dating, keep having fun. In our relationship, probably the most significant daily time for us, is coffee in bed in the morning…I stumble down stairs, grab 2 cups. Every couple needs to find routine that works best for them..preferably daily
Financial Stress termite We live in such a materialistic, hedonistic saturated culture. Young people today sometimes make the mistake of thinking they have to have all nice fancy things their mom and dad have…forgetting it took years for their parents to get to that place financially. Easy credit allows them to borrow more than they should, forcing both parents to work, full time and then some just to stay one step ahead of the wolf. The financial pressure will cause stress in your relationship. You meet each other coming and going, you’re both irritable, you’re not on the same page financially. If there is tension in your home because of money, don’t ignore that- that’s like seeing a termite mud tube and thinking, “Oh well, I don’t see the little buggers, we’ll be fine. I just have to work a little longer.”
Other things/relationship termite You start out, with your partner as the love of your life, your first priority, but over time, other things start competing for that place in your heart and your spouse gradually feels like there is another lover in your life they are in competition with. It could be your work, (because you love your job), it could be another relationship, as weird as it might sound, it could be your commitments @ church- dumping more of your energy and passion into some group so there is nothing left for your mate, it could be your hobby (s)..it might be the amount of time you invest on the Internet, it could be just about anything.
Unresolved conflict termite You know how it is, you have an argument about something, it never gets completely worked through, next thing you know, you have another..before too long, you sense tension in your marriage, can’t really put your finger on it, discount it, maybe you’re just tired and need a break…when in reality, the two of you have allowed all of these little conflicts and issues to pile up, can’t even remember some of them anymore…but because they are unresolved, this low grade anger and disgust has replaced the love, and affection you once felt for that other person sleeping in the bed with you. The smallest things they do irritate you.. Yep, you’ve got this termite…the unresolved conflict termite. I think it’s one of the easiest ones to acquire. and simpliest to get rid of- easy, not always :-) simple yes….give and receive forgiveness, admit when you’ve said or done something to hurt the other person.
If after reading this, you think you might have termites in your marriage- don’t despair. They’re everywhere. Like I told Bill and Sue, just be glad you found them now..and not 10 years from now. It’s never too late. There are so many awesome resources out there.
I’ve written on this topic before, so some of this may sound familiar.
Thoughts, comments, questions?