By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Marriage is supposed to be the fail-safe against a lonely life, right? Unfortunately, in many marriages, couples live under the same roof but function entirely independently. If we aren't careful, we only share the details pertinent to keeping our household running and forgo taking the time to connect emotionally. Loneliness and disconnection are sneaky ways the enemy tries to pull apart our marriages. They can creep in even when we aren't dissatisfied with our spouse. Our partner may be a great provider, parent, and helper, but even so, you may still feel disconnected. Life can get so hectic that we feel we don't have space in marriage for true connection.
True intimacy happens when we share our hearts with each other. A connected marriage takes so much more than cohabitation and efficient management of our shared responsibilities. We don't achieve this without intentional effort on both spouses' parts. Living as one flesh means connecting daily and regularly taking time to get deep. It looks like vulnerability and prioritizing one another; the bottom line is staying connected takes effort. For most of us, we have countless things screaming for our attention, and most of those things aren't your spouse. We prioritize our jobs, cleaning, kids, extended family, fitness, deadlines, dinner, and more over loving each other well.
Somehow tending to the most pressing need has pushed nurturing and investing in our marriages to the back burner. Yet, that is not at all what God had in mind for us. When we find ourselves stuck feeling distant, we have to do all we can to get invested in reconnecting with each other.
Here are some great ways to reconnect with your spouse:
1. Go out of your way to do something nice for them each day.
Rather than going over the top with romantic gestures, hone in on things you can do to serve your spouse each day. Find something that you can do to show them love outside your regular routine. This can be waking early to brew their coffee, coming home early to help prepare dinner, or planning a special treat after dinner to share once the kids are in bed. Daily acts of service provide moments for you to communicate love to your spouse. This consistent effort can help mend the wounds of an argument or help you stay connected when life feels crazy busy.
2. Ask helpful questions.
When things feel shaky in your relationship, some topics are hard to bring up in conversation. Yet, practicing remaining in communication, even when things are not at their best, is so helpful to restore a connection in your relationship. Think of questions or topics that you can safely talk about with your spouse. Some ideas are asking how you can help make their day better or asking what is on the schedule for the week and how you can be involved. Action-oriented questions usually are best when trying to reopen the lines of communication in your relationship.
3. Remember why you love them.
When life gets crazy, or conflict begins to escalate in your marriage, it's important to take a step back and remember why you love your spouse. No person is the sum of one or two choices. You can be frustrated with the way things feel in this moment without allowing that frustration to color your whole view of the person you have chosen to marry. Words to avoid in conversation and your mind when thinking about an issue you are facing are things like "always" and "never."
Pause to take a moment and remember their positive traits and all the ways they add to your life. Remembering the good can help you move closer to your spouse in times when you feel disconnected. No one wants to be close to someone they are frustrated with, but when we recall that this person is your partner, friend, spouse, and so much more, we realize the work to love each other is so worth it.
4. Ask your spouse what you can do to make them feel more loved.
Learning each other's love language can go a long way in keeping a connected marriage! Sometimes we think we are checking off all the boxes of how we should be showing affection to our spouse, and they may not be registering our efforts because we aren't really doing the work required to meet their needs. Spend time sharing your core needs, your favorite ways to connect, and commit to doing those things for your spouse. Take time to ask your spouse if you feel loved by their actions. Come up with a plan to ensure that you are doing your job to show love and respect to your partner daily.
5. Plan a date night.
Busyness kills intimacy. So many of us have schedules that are so full we barely have time to speak to our spouses over the course of a normal week. It is nearly impossible to connect without spending intentional facetime together.
If you feel distant, then it is time to take control of your schedule and carve out meaningful time together. If you have kids, it is helpful if this time is spent without them around. Hire a babysitter, get dressed up a bit, go out for dinner, or find a fun activity to do together. These are the moments that help you both destress, and they also give you the space to have meaningful conversations.
6. Prioritize physical intimacy.
Sex isn't everything in a marriage, but it is definitely important. 1 Corinthians 7:5 instructs us not to withhold sex from one another in marriage unless we have agreed to abstain for a set time frame for the purpose of prayer and fasting. Why does Paul give this very personal advice? Because he knew that sex is a vital part of keeping a marriage alive.
If you have fallen out of the habit of having intercourse, then awkwardly make a point to start doing it again! It may feel just as strange as the first time, but you will get the hang of it again with time and practice. More sex leads to more connection and conversation. Most women need conversation to have good sex, and most men need sex to show up enthusiastically to have conversation. Just get the ball rolling again, and you both will reap the benefits!
2 Peter 3:9 explains that God is not slow in answering our prayers. Instead, He is ever patient with us. Overcoming distance in marriage takes prayer, persistence, and patience. God is faithful to repair and hold together our marriages when we seek him and ask for help. Be encouraged; He is with you every step of the way. Even in your most lonely moments, you are not alone.
Related Resource: Listen to our new, FREE podcast on marriage: Team Us. The best marriages have a teamwork mentality. Find practical, realistic ideas for strengthening your marriage. Listen to an episode here, and then head over to LifeAudio.com to check out all of our episodes:
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.