As a pilot, one of the things I’ve learned is that autopilot is a safe, efficient way to fly a plane…until a pilot becomes complacent. An over-reliance on autopilot can put you out of practice. You might lose the skills you need to deal with problems like turbulence or bad weather.
Marriage is the same way. When things are going well, we stop working at it. We go into autopilot. Then, when conflict arises, we struggle to keep the plane in the air. I want to discuss one key to keep your marriage flying high: Fuel.
One of the things my piloting instructors taught me over and over was to always be mindful of how much fuel is on the plane. As a pilot, you think of fuel in terms of hours. If you have four hours of fuel, then you always want to land with 30 minutes of fuel in the tanks.
You check it. You check it again. And you don’t trust the airplane’s fuel gauge, because it only has to be wrong once. You are constantly aware of fuel.
As with an airplane, fuel is essential to keeping your marriage “in the air.” There are three types of fuel for marriage.
1⃣ The first is God fuel. You need to wake up every morning and start your day in the presence of God. Why? Because the Holy Spirit gives you the power to love each other. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
These traits define God’s personality, and He’ll give them to you if you ask. Displaying them in your marriage will make you a great spouse.
Karen and I need that God fuel. We start every day with God, and He gets us ready to love each other.
2⃣ The second is spouse fuel. This comes from meeting each other’s needs and having fun. It is very important for a husband and wife to have fun together. Without sex and fun, marriage is mostly a business partnership—and a bad one, at that. Meeting each other’s needs fuels your relationship.
Every day, you need to spend some meaningful time together connecting. Maybe you go for a walk. Maybe you sit down with each other at the end of the day. But carve out time in each other’s company, just to talk and stay connected.
Then, every few weeks, you need to schedule special time together. Get away for a date. Go away for a weekend. Use this time to check in with your spouse. Ask, “Are you okay? Is there anything we need to work on to make our marriage better? Anything I need to change?” Talk honestly with each other.
3⃣ The third is friend fuel. We need good, Christian friends in our lives who support us, and who we enjoy spending time with. Karen and I met our best friends in church. They are critical for our relationship.
Children are wonderful, but they can burn fuel in a marriage. They require work. But time spent among encouraging, uplifting friends adds fuel to our lives—especially when those friends are pointing us toward Christ. It restores us.
Every marriage needs to surround itself with positive friendships.
As a pilot, you are responsible for making sure your plane has plenty of fuel to fly. As a husband or wife, you are responsible to make sure your marriage is always fueled up. Spend time with God. Spend time with each other. Spend time in Christian fellowship with friends.
Fueling your marriage ensures you never reach the point where you’re running on fumes. Pay attention to your fuel sources and you’ll keep your marriage flying high.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today