My husband, George, and I love to play games. One we made up is called the E game. The goal is to make the other spouse be the one driving the car when it needs gas. At times, I have driven the car on fumes so I could win. Recently, I pushed the limit too far. I even ignored five warning signals. Then the car sputtered to a stop. While it is fun to play the E game with our car, it is dangerous to play it with our marriage. It’s easy to think that our vows, our history together and our love can keep our marriage exciting. But if we don’t refuel, our marriage could sputter to a stop.

Flashing lights and bells

If you learn from my experience, you won’t ignore these warning signs that your marriage might be running on empty.

Irritations One of my friends is married to a witty guy. He sees life through a “fun” filter. In college, he was the life of the party, and my friend fell deeply in love with him and his sense of humor. Recently, she confided that she is constantly exasperated. “He can never be serious about anything!” she said. The thing that attracted her most is now a source of irritation. Living together magnifies differences in personalities. If you find yourself muttering under your breath things like, “I can’t count on her to do it” or “He always does this or never does that,” check your gas gauge. It may be inching toward E.

Failure to Date It is so easy for a couple to fall into a routine. As surely as my car died, so will your marriage if you forget to spend time together. Plan a weekend or evening out. Take a walk around the block. Sit on the sofa and hold hands while your favorite song plays on the radio. Failure to deliberately plan dates for the two of you is a low-fuel warning.

No Spiritual Partnership Mike and Janet are at church together every time the door opens, but they don’t worship together in their home or kneel in prayer hand in hand. When couples don’t get spiritual refreshment together, dashboard lights are usually flashing.

Fueling Up

Fill the Reserve Tank We once owned a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia with a reserve gas tank. We could drive the car anywhere and ignore the gas levels. If we ran out, we flipped a small switch to engage the reserve tank. Every time we forgive each other, it adds fuel to the reserve tank of our relationship. Fuel pumps. A fuel pump supplies the engine with a continuous flow of gas. Expressing your love to your mate in some way each day is a pump that will keep your marriage going. We recently moved into an apartment from a single-family home. The first morning that George left the apartment, he locked the door. Later, I told him how wonderful his small gesture made me feel, because it showed his concern and protection for me. Now he never forgets to “lock me in.” It has become his way of saying “I love you.” Don’t play the E game with your marriage. Keep your tanks full and pay attention to warning signals. Your marriage will never run dry.

Karen and her husband, George, play the E game in The Woodlands, Texas.

This article appeared in Focus on the Family magazine.

Copyright © 2002 Karen Porter. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used with permission.

Porn Addiction Destroys Marriage | Restoring What's Been Lost