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How Can Joe's Dilemma Help My Marriage?

Joe is your average married guy in his forties with three wonderful kids. My friend, Rob, talks about Joe in his book, Choices:


The doctor's words echoed in Joe's ears as he drove home from his annual physical. “Joe, if you don't get serious about losing those forty pounds I've been talking to you about – you're going to die”. Joe, like many former athletes, had become sedentary and had frankly let himself go physically. He didn't eat right. He didn't exercise. After a while he got used to carrying that extra weight around. Today, however, was Joe's wake up call. Joe is faced with a grim reality – make this a top priority or make funeral arrangements. Become deliberate about it or face the inevitable and undesirable consequences”.


“You see, Joe has a problem. Joe is addicted to himself. He enjoys comfort – a comfortable lounge chair, comfort food, comfortable relationships, comfortable church, etc. He basically loves doing what he wants and eating what he wants and not worrying about the consequences. Joe, like the rest of us, has a “on-off switch” for life that is, by default, set to SELF.  


But given the doctor's prognosis, we find Joe coming face-to-face with a dilemma that shakes him to his core. He has to choose against himself. He must choose against his very nature. In order to do what his heart truly longs to do (live longer and enjoy his family), he must change his entire paradigm of living. He is not just making a mental decision to start eating right and exercising. He is going to have to change the way he looks at, and lives, his life on a daily basis from here on out.” (1)


As I read about Joe, my thoughts turn to how easy it is for me to become complacent in my life. To not be intentional about some really important things that I know should be priorities. And if you are like my wife and me, one of those areas we grow complacent in is our marriage relationship.


My wife and I have talked to many couples over the years. I think, without exception, each one would say they want their marriage to be a priority in their lives. But when asked what they are doing to “invest” in their marriage on a regular basis, there are usually excuses rather than intentional plans shared. We all have good intentions for our marriage, but how far will good intentions get us without some action steps?


Thinking back on our friend, Joe – how far will good intentions get him in his plan to lose weight and get in shape? If he goes back to the doctor in 6 months and tells him of all the good intentions he has, do you think the doctor will pat him on the back and say, “Good job on those intentions, Joe!”  Of course not. He will tell Joe in the strongest words, “Get off of your easy chair of good intentions and take action!”


An Honest Assessment

So, take a minute to honestly assess your own marriage. Would you classify your marriage as “great” or “fulfilling”? What would your spouse say? Many couples we talk usually say “okay” or “fine” - at least that is their answer initially.


Sadly many, if they were honest, would say “stuck”, “numb”, or “living like roommates”. If the true goal in marriage is progress, not perfection, how do I take a step to intentionally move to the next level in marriage? How do I move from “near the breaking point” to “hopeful”? How do I take a step from “average” to “good”? Or how can I move from “good” to “great”?


My friend, Rob, has some great words to share on this from his book:


You see, the first choice we need to make to see real change in our marriages is this: Choosing to become deliberate. This is the same prescription that Joe received from his doctor:


1)  Things are serious, and you must make serious changes

2)  You must be willing to embrace a new paradigm

3)  You must make deliberate choices each day to achieve your desired results

4)  You will be thrilled with the results if you do


No one can make these choices for you. It is not your spouse's responsibility or even God's. Only you can make them. You must decide that the reward is worth the sacrifice and effort. If you don' make that deliberate choice for your marriage, then you will inevitably drift apart. You see there is no neutral in marriage – you are either moving toward one another intentionally or naturally drifting apart.


If, however, you choose to become a deliberate husband or wife, you will discover the tremendous joy and fulfillment of having a truly, healthy marriage.  The kind of marriage God created and intended for you and your spouse to experience. (1)


Don't we all truly desire that kind of marriage - the kind of marriage that “God created and intended for us to experience”?  But we don't get there with good intentions, any more than Joe will lose weight and get in shape, unless we make some deliberate changes.


I want to ask you to seriously consider doing something to help. Plan an intentional time to sit down with your spouse in the next few days and take time to do the following:


a) Pray together for God to be leading your time together (don't skip this step, please!)

b) Read over this article together.

c)  Take time to individually rate your marriage on a scale of 1-10. Then share your answers with each other and the reasons you chose your number. Don’t get defensive or upset if your spouse rates your marriage lower than you expected. Listen and try to understand their point of view.

d) Answer these questions together:

1.  What one step can we take starting this week to be more deliberate in growing in our marriage relationship?

2.  What is an additional step we can take together to intentionally fighting the “natural drift” we all have towards slowly growing apart in marriage?


My Young Friend’s Choices

I talked to a young friend earlier this week. He and his wife had been drifting for a while – really since their first child was born a year ago. But I was so thrilled to hear that he and his wife agreed to set aside one night each week, after the baby goes to sleep, to intentionally spend time together. And in addition, they are going to ask his parents, who live 10 minutes away, to begin babysitting once a month to give them a date night as well.


Your situation might not be like my young friend, but you can be like he and his wife by talking and choosing to take deliberate steps of action to help grow your marriage. Investing time and effort in your marriage is one of the best things you can do for your kids and your future together. I pray you will choose to take action today!



Additional Suggested Steps:

  • Join a small group or marriage/equipping class in your church.

  • Get Rob's book “Choices” and go through it with your spouse and 2-3 other couples.  Link Here

  • Read this blog post from Prepare-Enrich to help prioritize your marriage.   Link Here

  • Read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, What Did You Expect by Paul David Tripp, or Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich together as a couple or preferably with other couples.

  • Read our blog post entitled “Snippets: Making Time for Connection”  Link Here





Originally written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2016. Updated 2024. All Rights Reserved. Please contact us at for comments or questions.


Source: Choices by Rob Thorpe. Link on Amazon:


Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash


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