Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Staying Connected With Your Spouse When You Feel Like Two Ships Passing In The Night

It's been just over 6 months since I wrote, "The night I wanted to divorce my wife, and why 4 years later, I am so glad I didn't"  If you didn't get a chance to read it, here is the link;

It received a huge response (a couple thousand peeps read it).  I didn't realize at the time, how many couples were longing for language to help them work through their difficulties.  For those of you who are married (or once were), you know just how hard marriage can be while simultaneously being the most tremendous gift you've ever received (when things are going well!) :)  When couples are able to work well together and intentionally fan the flame of their relationship in ways that grow it...there is simply nothing like it (insert here all of your favorite synonyms of, "Joy"!).  While at the same time, you are fully aware of the Jenga like nature of your relationship, where just one wrong move can send the whole thing crumbling.  The good news (sticking with our Jenga theme), it can be rebuilt (sometimes daily...sometimes hourly).  

This fall, was another change for our family and marriage...my wife (Kari) received her dream job, but it meant our schedules had to change.  She is up and out of the house early, and I am up to get our 4 little ones moving, dressed, fed, with some semblance of good hygiene (and by good hygiene, I mean minimal bed-head).  Once the kids are off to school/pre-school the fun hasn't stopped, it's just begun for the day...once school is out, Kari picks the kids up to start the second half of the crazy (homework, activities, sports, etc...).  Throw in the carpool routine and you've got a family of 6 running around from wake-up to 8pm, with about as much marital connection as a wet band-aid (wet band-aids aren't sticky or "connected" well...for those of you still kicking that visual around) :)

So, in an attempt to help you start thinking about being better connected with your spouse in the midst of the busyness of life...here are some thoughts that have helped Kari and I stay connected when we've felt like "two ships, passing in the night."

1.  Stay Intentional!  Do you remember when you started dating your spouse...you were busy then too.  You both had individual lives, working, going to school, studying, etc...you had to be intentional about getting time together, and you loved it as you were excited to spend time together.  Why has today's busyness caused you to stop being intentional about your time together?  A few years ago, Kari and I decided that we would plan at least two significant times together throughout the year...one of those times would be a few nights away just the two of us, and one would be a time away with our kids.  It's an intentional act to take a pause from the busy and to invest in the most important thing to us...our marriage and family.  What ways are you being intentional in your marriage?

2.  Never Stop Dating.  Dating is related to the first point in that, it has to be intentional...people love to be sought after.  We love to be longed for, to be needed, to feel wanted.  Dating is one way you can tell your spouse, "I need you...and I want you to know it!"  If you only took two trips a year together, my hunch is, you'll have a pretty disconnected marriage...but dating can take place any time and on a regular basis.  Sure it can be a dinner out, a movie, or drinks...but if you are on a budget, and can't afford these things, there are hundred's of things you can do at no cost; Go for a walk, play a board game, play frisbee golf together, read a book together, lay in bed naked as you talk about your day (you probably want to do this when the kids are gone), watch funny animal videos on YouTube together...do something!!!!  If you don't date on a regular basis, you are missing out on an incredible opportunity to grow your relationship.  When is the next date you have on your calendar with your spouse?

3.  Talk positively about each other, to each other, and back it up with your actions...I know this sounds like a "self-help" idea, and perhaps it is, but there are power in words (positive and negative) and telling each other what we like about the other is work that cultivates growth.  I had shared in my previous post on marriage that I had stopped thinking positively about Kari, and it was killing the way I viewed her and our relationship...my heart was growing hard.  Once I started thinking positively about her, telling her and showing it through my actions, it not only changed the way I was thinking about her and our marriage it changed the way she was responding to me.  This is one of those areas that we neglect in the midst of the crazy...and it's perhaps the easiest thing to do.  When you walk in the door from work/school/activities...just stop, hold your spouse, look them in the eye and tell her/him what you like about her/him...even just one thing.  Not only will this grow your fondness to each other...your kids will see it and you will be modeling what it looks like to grow a great relationship.  Lastly, be sure to back this up with your actions...I could tell Kari how great she is all day long, but if I don't make the bed, help with the dishes or help around the house in ways that speak her love language, then my words are deafening to her.  So here is my question for you...how are you speaking positively about your spouse and showing it through your actions?  

As you surely know by now...to be good, marriage like anything, takes intentional work...in marriage it takes the intentional work of both people to truly flourish.  Keep working at it friends...your marriage is worth every moment of intentional work you put in to it.  Now stop reading and go on a date with your spouse!

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