Nothing replaces quality, focused time with your spouse. There are no substitutes and no shortcuts. We’re learning and relearning this concept in our marriage. Whenever Selena and I allow our time together to be eroded by life’s chaos and busyness, our marriage suffers. How?
- We’re impatient with each other
- Sex is infrequent and/or insincere
- Frustrations mount as grace runs dry
- We’re increasingly inconsiderate of one another
- Everything in life seems to degrade slowly and surely
Our 10+ years married has taught me that we absolutely must have “connecting” time together. We need real time to connect face to face with ears and eyes wide open. This doesn’t include watching TV or sitting at home passively chatting while we’re droning around on the internet or on our phones.
Reconnecting with your spouse doesn’t have to be complicated, just purposeful. It’s more about quality and less about quantity. Here are some myths I’ve recently identified and dispelled in our marriage, hopefully my epiphanies will help you as much as they’ve helped me.
1: It takes time, but not much
We’re both busy, but who isn’t? The thing about time is that everyone has the same amount, no matter who you are, how rich you are, or where you live. Time is definitely the great equalizer.
The question is really one of how you spend your time. When someone says “I don’t have time”, they’re really saying “I don’t want to spend my time on that”. Everyone makes time for what’s important to them. If your marriage is important to you and you realize it needs investment, you’ll make time for it.
Selena and I have found that we don’t need days to reconnect, just an hour or two every few days is plenty. Who can’t manage that? Sure, we go on vacations and getaways periodically, but that’s not always feasible. You can reconnect in the simple moments if you’re both engaged.
Some of our best reconnection times happen over coffee and devotions before work or during late-night ice cream runs. Ironically, grocery shopping has become a very fun time for us! I love making her laugh, and the grocery store usually supplies ample opportunity and props for just that… (it usually involves me being awkwardly loud or goofy, but it’s a blast!).
That leads me to the next myth:
2: We must be intentional, but not intense
It’s not like we sit down, take deep breaths and stare into each others’ eyes until we experience some marital “connection”. Like the grocery store, it just means we engage with each other and interact. It sounds rudimentary, but it’s very easy to just gloss over conversations with all of life’s distractions.
I’m learning to actually listen when she tells me about her day. I’d like to say “whenever Selena talks, I listen”, but I can’t. When I do kick myself into shape, I can truly hear what she’s saying and provide meaningful feedback. We have actual conversation… imagine that!
Games are another great way to focus your attention on each other: Play UNO or chess (or whatever game you like). Don’t have a game you like? Find one; they’re pretty fun!
You don’t have to be intense about connecting with your spouse, just intentional.
3: We need to get away, but not far
We live in a pretty slow community with lots of retirees. Most restaurants close at 8pm and we aren’t exactly surrounded by diverse culture. This has created a sort of “opportunistic” attitude about traveling for us.
Here’s how it works: we look at sites like AirBNB and Kayak to see what’s cheap. If we find something in our price range and timeframe (usually 1-2 nights), we go. We rarely have any other agenda. It makes for some exciting and unexpected adventures!
One time I was browsing flights on Kayak and found flights from Seattle to Munich, Germany for $385 round trip! So I bought two tickets as fast as I could. Did we have a hotel? Nope. Did either of us have time off scheduled? Negative. Did we eventually figure it out? Yep!
We ended up spending 18 days backpacking Europe for less than $1,200 (flights included) by staying in cheap hotels and hostels. We had absolutely no agenda or arrangements other than adventure; and what an adventure it was!
A very atypical adventure indeed. We haven’t found a deal like that in the 5+ years since, so now we mostly just get in the car and drive. Most road trips start with a fight…btw.
Two weekends ago we packed and left for the hills hoping to find a spot to stay; we couldn’t find ANYTHING. We ended up just watching the sunset in the mountains, eating some apple pie (Julian, California has amazing apple pie) and driving back home. Cost: $30 in gas, $8 on pie/coffee. Boom.
Was the trip a failure? I guess you could say that… but it was exactly what we needed to reset our perspective and reconnect with each other.
Planning is great, but spontaneity is sometimes just the ticket. Go for a drive, stay in a dive hotel, and just be together. Stare at the ocean or some pretty hills. Sit and drink coffee together in a new place, even if it’s just for half a day. And if you’re really daring, leave your phones at home!
Make reconnections happen – your marriage will flourish
You need to consistently reconnect with your spouse, that much is for sure. It doesn’t have to take forever, cost a fortune, or be super intense, but it must happen as often as necessary.
Unfortunately, many marriages suffer because spouses forget how to stay connected. It’s only when serious problems surface that they realize their foundation is cracked or nonexistent. Reconnecting with your spouse on a regular basis, however works for you, is the best way to keep your foundation strong and guarded from small cracks growing into deep chasms.
Question: What are some ways you and your spouse purposely reconnect?
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