My husband is awesome. This man not only flies helicopters, but balanced the rigorous demands of flight school with raising our rambunctious two-year-old and a newborn he happened to deliver on the side of the road in the front seat of our suburban.
He completed nursing school with our three young kids and a fourth on the way, juggling bedtimes, Bible lessons, and Nerf wars with papers, exams, and clinicals. He does the dishes and the laundry (including the cloth diapers). He brews some amazingly delicious beer, and his French toast is sublime.
He works incredibly hard to care for me and our children, enduring long hours and a hectic schedule to serve both his family and his community. The ten years we’ve been married have been wonderful due in no small part to his devotion to our marriage and our family.
Yet marriage, as with everything in this fallen world, isn’t perfect, no matter how awesome you or your spouse are. Marriage takes work, patience, compromise, and communication. It has its ups and downs, joys and frustrations, its blissful moments and rocky episodes. Through it all, marriage is a blessed gift of companionship, love, support, and comfort. It is the base we build our families upon, and thus needs to be kept strong and healthy.
While one hopes the rougher storms are few, far-between, or non-existent, we will undoubtedly all encounter the occasional rut in our marital journeys. Life gets busy. Schedules conflict. Quality time together gets lost in the mix. When you start to feel disconnected or out-of-sync, these simple tips can help you escape these ruts when they occur.
1. Intimacy Is Important
When you’re feeling detached emotionally from your spouse, it can be hard to entertain the idea of kindling the romantic fires, if you will. But that physical connection is essential to the health of your marriage.
Our days so easily become hectic with work, kids, and everything pulling us in so many directions. It can be difficult to find the time and energy to love your spouse physically. Don’t find the time. Make the time, even if you have to schedule it on your mental calendar—or your actual calendar (I won’t judge; mom-brain is real!).
Ignore the dishes. Delay folding the laundry. That email can wait. Facebook will still be there with stupid memes and hostile comment threads. Put the kids to bed early, let them watch a movie, or send them to a friend’s house. Basically, do what you gotta do.
2. Keep It Simple
You don’t need to make elaborate plans, spend a lot of money, or go to extreme lengths to reconnect. Never underestimate the value in the little things. Let your morning goodbye kiss linger a little longer than usual. Hold hands during dinner.
It doesn’t take much effort to give a touch on the back as you pass by or a bear hug just because. Make a favorite meal or pick up their favorite treat. These are all little gestures that can make big strides in your marriage.
3. Get Creative
Who says your efforts have to follow rules, either? We don’t all have parents nearby to watch the kids, and babysitters are expensive (if you can find any you actually trust). But you can still have dates and special moments if you’re willing to think outside the box a bit.
Take the day off while kids are at school to spend the whole day doing something fun. Take a long lunch together or leave work early to share a flight of beer at the local brewery. And don’t think you need to ditch your offspring to enjoy each other’s company. Cook dinner together. Take a family walk. Play board games. Have a movie night. Take the kids to the pub.
4. Talk—Really Talk
This seems like a no-brainer, of course, but it can be easier said than done. This isn’t just a matter of making the effort to talk more often about the little things in life (although that doesn’t hurt), nor does it mean having serious, heart-to-heart, bare-your-soul discussions daily or even weekly (unless you both agree to, that is).
While you might be feeling disconnected from your spouse, you shouldn’t assume he or she senses it to the same extent. That assumption sets you up for a mass of frustration, especially if you expect your spouse to fix a problem he or she isn’t even aware of.
Instead, be honest and open, seeking to work together to address the situation. Note: proper timing is key on this one, as you don’t want to spring it on your spouse when he or she is busy, rushed, stressed, or otherwise distracted.
5. Attend Church
One of the best remedies for these disconnected times is to be in God’s word together at church. Stand in that pew. Hold hands. Share the hymnal. Pray, commune, and be absolved of your sins together. A shared faith is a strong foundation, and it can never hurt for us to remember that we are sinners married to other sinners, both of whom are forgiven of those sins.
This can help us forgive where we’ve been reluctant to and seek forgiveness from our spouse when we’ve hurt them. Both are necessary for the health of the relationship.
That relationship, your marriage, is worth nurturing and caring for through sickness and health, major storms and minor hiccups. We can’t all be awesome—I’m still waiting for my sense of humor to be even half the caliber of my husband’s—but we can all find our way out of the marital blahs back to wedded bliss. All it takes is a bit of effort.