Complacency: The Silent Killer of Marriage

Young Couple Sitting on Love Seat

We can’t count the number of couples we have met through the years who were sliding toward the death of their marriage because one or both spouses yielded to complacency. This is part 5 of 7 in our series on what Jesus would say to our marriage. If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

Complacency is the silent killer of a marriage. Complacency is insidious in its stealth as it slowly coils around a husband or wife and squeezes their desire for their mate to its final gasp. At the root of complacency is selfishness. It’s when one begins to care more for self-preservation, self-fulfillment, self-gratification, avoidance of conflict and taking their spouse for granted—rather than investing the effort to improve the marriage.

If you looked up complacency in the Roman Dictionary, most certainly you would have seen a picture of the city–and the

Temple of Artemis with Acropolis rising behind

The Temple of Artemis with the Acropolis rising behind the church–in Sardis. 

church–in Sardis. The city itself was commercially prosperous as it was on a major trade route and was strategic militarily. They were famous for their Acropolis—their fort—which rose 800 feet above the city (see image).

It was the place where the city would take refuge when under siege. Only twice was the Acropolis conquered in battle—and that by not being vigilant.

Sardis was known for their wool industry. The luxury in which the people lived was such that they had become lazy and undisciplined as a people. Their morals were non-existent. And those influences had crept into the church.

“You have a reputation of being alive.…”

Sardis was a city that rested on their past accomplishments. When people talked of Sardis—or came to visit—they would see the luxury, the trappings, the magnificent buildings. What they saw were things that had been worked for, developed, and built by previous inhabitants.

Perhaps your marriage began with a flourish as the two of you focused on each other with stars in your eyes and dreams in your hearts. Others could see it in you. But as time slipped by you could still put on the “happy marriage” face in public, but at home you took your marriage for granted. Life got busy a few months/years into the marriage. Kids. Job. Church. Civic work. Sports. Friends.

And as long as no one is complaining—much—it’s easier to keep up the charade. There are too many plates spinning now to let one drop in order to deal with the marriage. That can come later.

“…but you are dead.”

Sardis was known as well for their Necropolis, or cemetery. It was seven miles outside of town, but the hundreds of burial mounds could be seen against the skyline. They were preoccupied with death. Jesus used a word picture they knew well to get their attention.

Men and women, complacency in your marriage is like sentencing it to a slow death. Don’t fool yourself. Complacency puts you in great danger in your marriage. When it takes hold you are nearly buried maritally and don’t even realize it. Jesus says, “Can’t you see??? You are ignoring the gift I gave you!”

“Wake up! Strengthen what remains….”

The impenetrable fortress of the Acropolis of Sardis was conquered twice—and each time it was because someone wasn’t vigilant. Jesus said, “WAKE UP!” and it was said as a command. Literally, he says to be “constantly alert” and strengthen what remains. You may not FEEL like doing what it takes, but your feelings will follow your actions. Here are some ideas to build your marriage:

  • Find 3 things a day that you appreciate about your spouse. Tell them.
  • Read books on marriage by authors like: Eggerichs, Kimmel, Parrott, Smalley, and Gottman.
  • Go to a marriage conference together (click here to have your church bring US in for a Build Your Marriage event!)
  • Spend time together—sit, talk, play games, go on walks or dates
  • Flirt with each other
  • KISS—OFTEN (read more on kissing here)
  • SAY I love you & act loving even when you don’t feel like it.

These are just some simple steps to take to turn the tide of complacency and breathe LIFE into your relationship as you Build Your Marriage!

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Melanie Dart

    I am finding your comparisons of marriage to the 7 churches very interesting. Also, I like the historical tidbits and pictures very much. I’m going to tell my husband tonight that kissing can lengthen his life!! Thank-you for your writings and your ministry. – Married in Michigan