No marriage falls apart in one day. According to Jill Savage, it’s usually when something goes unnoticed or unattended to, over a long period of time, that two people to drift apart.
“When you hear about a marriage that has been 25 or 30 years and they go through a divorce, it is most likely because they had fades that were happening; they were unattended to, and they thought they were letting things slide, but the truth was they were pooling.”
To identify if a slow fade has crept into your marriage, it’s important to understand the nature of them. Jill teaches us about the slow fade of minimizing.
“Those that are self-minimizers, they’re internal minimizers, so they’re always telling themselves, ‘Oh, what I think doesn’t matter. I’m not going to say anything; I don’t want to rock the boat.’”
She explains how this slow fade affected intimacy with her husband, Mark, during a season of crisis.
“Coming from the abusive background that he came from, that was almost hardwired into him. He was often minimizing his thoughts and feelings, and not saying anything about them. He made the statement something to the effect of, ‘I thought I was just letting things slide,’ but the truth was they were pooling in my heart.”
“That pooling was causing them to separate their hearts from each other, until it got to the place where they looked at each other and said, ‘I feel nothing for you anymore and I don’t want to be a part of this relationship.’ Indeed, that was happening in Mark’s situation, far more than what either one of us understood.”
Jill took the opposite approach of an external minimizer.
“I wasn’t helping him in any way, because I tend to be primarily an external minimizer. That means I minimize the thoughts and feelings of others. In my early marriage years, I was a ‘buck up’ wife. I was a ‘buck up’ mom in my early mothering years.”
Slow fades will always pull you away from your spouse, rather than draw you closer together. Jill describes how slow fades can harm marriages if left unattended.
“The first time that you let something slide – no big deal. Maybe you separate your heart from your spouse’s heart by one centimeter. Then, you do it again and it’s two centimeters. Then, you do it again and it’s three.”
“You still don’t notice that, but if you do that over, and over, and over again; the centimeters become inches, the inches become feet, the feet become yards, and the yards become miles.”
No marriage is going to be perfect, but all marriages could use some improvement. We need to identify and work through any slow fades that are causing us to drift apart, so we can turn around and have the marriage God intended for us.
Mark and Jill Savage speak and write on issues of faith and family. Known for their honesty, humor, and practical teaching, they travel across the country to educate and equip families. Jill is the founder of Hearts at Home and has led thousands of moms to keep their priorities straight and their heart in tune with God. Mark served in church ministry and pastoral roles for more than 20 years, before transitioning to partner together with Jill in encouraging families through Hearts at Home.Is there a "slow fade" in your marriage?