When you have been with someone for a long time, you may not realize how stale your connection has become until conditions force a new normal. With social distancing, we cannot help but take inventory of the health of our daily relationships. Recently a woman shared with me a struggle on her heart; as she spoke about her husband, I could tell she was surprised by her confession.

“I find the days long when I am near him,” the woman says with little inflection.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m in his company, but we do very little to keep one another company.” Her voice is hesitant as if she is disturbing wounded feelings that have been collecting in the corners of her home.

“Do you talk with one another?”

“We speak but say little. There are moments I question if we even like one another.” Her voice goes soft. “We are going nowhere but through the motions,” she sighs.

Many relationships begin nourished and hydrated in love, but somewhere along the way, they fade into active apathy. Some couples have been reduced to a collection of youthful memories – a cardboard box of pictures and ticket stubs that we hope to ferry us into the future. But waters are too still for the winds of yesterday to stir hope into the present.

“We keep busy, under the same roof, but we know in our separate truths that we have become comfortable strangers.”

“And what separate truths do you think he believes?”

“Ah, that’s easy. I’m sure he thinks that I don’t give him enough affection or attention. But who would want to give either to someone who acts like you don’t even exist?”

“Do you love him?”

“Love him? Yes. In love with him? I don’t think so. Like I said, most days, I’m not even sure I like him.” There is a weighted pause. “I think I would be less lonely if I were alone.”

Couples can live separate truths while doing life under the same roof. Physically near – emotionally distant. There is no creative fix. Quite the opposite: the longer we emotionally distance ourselves the less creative we become in our energies and latitude of thinking. We give up or shut up to preserve what little peace we think we have. Yet, all we are doing is stockpiling more wounded feelings in the corners of our homes.

Not liking someone takes very little imagination. Blame is easy to give; responsibility is much harder to accept. Chilled hearts can alter the entire temperature of a home. After a while, wounded feelings become idols of pain. And these idols are stone-hard and ugly.

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” – Vincent Van Gogh

To truly love another, we must follow Christ. Walking toward Jesus, we find our most significant rivals are often expectations, triggers, pride, unforgiveness, insecurities and fear. In this finding, our focus shifts from fighting against each another to addressing the real obstacles working against our collective peace.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Living at peace with another may not be possible, but may peace not be stifled because of us. May we not find ourselves so busy worshipping idols of pain that we misplace our worship on God above all.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

There is no fast fix for a wounded heart, but we can begin to take an active role in our healing in small, significant ways. We are not responsible for fixing the behavior of another, but we are responsible for attending to our restoration and wholeness in Christ. We are accountable for the condition of our heart – whether it be hard or soft is determined by the condition of our thoughts. By checking our thoughts, the winds of change begin to stir and clear the corners of the house.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

In our obedience to Christ, we practice intentionally replacing mental complaints against another with powerful prayers for those who grieve us. Instead of going nowhere but through the motions, we trust God to renew our spirit and restore our joy. By cultivating a willing spirit, we surrender to His will and gain His sustaining peace.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10,12).

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian Author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.