You want to feel connected. That’s what you expected in marriage. The hormones and pheromones and all the other “mones” kept you feeling connected for a while, but those change. If you want to still connect with your spouse today, you will need to invest physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Feelings are fickle. “Falling out of love” is not inevitable, nor is it something that just happens to you. Every marriage has real challenges, but the quality of your relationship tomorrow depends on the intentional things you do today.
We know enough about human beings, about men and women, and about relationships to know what keeps husbands and wives feeling connected. These ways to connect with your spouse have scientific backing. So you can start right now to connect more deeply, knowing it will make a difference.
(These assume your marriage is disconnected. If your marriage is toxic, a different approach is appropriate.)
Find something to be grateful for about your spouse.
You see more of what you look for. Research has proven how gratitude has a positive effect on your perspective of your marriage and of your spouse. Daily look for one thing for which you’re grateful. Write it down, and/or express it to your spouse. It may be “large,” such as “I’m grateful for how you provide for our family.” Or it may be “small,” such as “Thanks for being graceful when we got stuck in traffic on the way home.”
Ask a heartfelt question, and then listen.
Active listening is not primarily about seeking information, but about seeking your spouse’s heart. You genuinely are interested. It might be a simple “How was your day?” Or it might be more like, “You seem anxious. I’d like to understand that more. Will you tell me about that?” The most important key is that you’re not trying to form a rebuttal in your mind, but you’re paying attention and listening to their response with an open heart.
Share something vulnerable.
Vulnerability fuels vulnerability. Unless your spouse has an evil heart, choose a time when they can hear you and share something vulnerable from your own heart. It might be something you’re afraid of, or worried about, or embarrassed about. That will usually invite them to be vulnerable also, and make the two of you feel closer together.
Express a need.
This is another aspect of being vulnerable. Needing your spouse makes you vulnerable, and gives them “power” to potentially hurt you. Expressing a need means you’re not self-sufficient. This is not a demand; it’s an invitation to your spouse to come closer. It’s expressing how important your spouse is to you.
Work on a problem together.
Partners who see each other as the problem are building walls. Partners who see the problem as a “third thing” that they are working on together become more connected. If the relationship is not all it could be, see that as a challenge. Invite your spouse to work with you toward solving the relationship challenge, or parenting problem, or practical issue, etc. The experience of working through something together can bring you closer.
Share an adventure.
A shared adventure can be bonding. This can be a cool vacation. Or it can be simply driving together down a road you’ve never seen, or trying a new activity together, or learning something new as a couple. Get a telescope and watch the stars. Cook a new meal together. If you struggle to both enjoy the same things, take turns choosing something to do together. Be willing to invest in something your spouse enjoys.
Read a daily devotional together.
You need your own private time with God. In addition, doing this as a couple keeps Christ as the foundation of your marriage. Choose a daily Bible reading plan to go through together, or one of the multitude of devotional books available. Keep it simple; read the Scripture or devotional together, and then take 5 minutes to share with each other what that reading means to you.
The strongest glue holding you together is praying with and for each other. Let your spouse hear you lifting them up to God. Invite Jesus right into the middle of any challenges you are facing as a couple. Thank Him for how He has blessed you. Invite His guidance in any decisions you need to make. Ask Him to make you the husband or wife your spouse needs. If you are not regularly praying together this may seem difficult. Here are a few suggestions to help that happen.
For marriage to work, both husband and wife must have a voice. When either husband or wife dominates the relationship becomes very unhealthy. Ask yourself, “Does my spouse feel that I take them seriously? Do they feel their voice is heard?” Talk together about how you make decisions as a couple. If it’s not mutual, you may need to make some adjustments.
Having sex is an important part of connection in marriage. Sex can also be used as a weapon. When the other parts of connection are present, sex creates strong chemical and neurological bonding between you. For the average husband, realize your wife will need to feel emotionally connected before having sex. For the average wife, realize how deeply important sex is to your husband in creating his sense of connection with you.
If sex is not working well between you, ask Why. You may need to work on some of the other above elements of connection first. You may need to deal with some matters in your own heart such as entitlement, or hiding, or “I hate sex.”
To deal with those very important matters of the heart around sex/sexuality, our new online course Sexpectations walks you through the steps necessary in coming to sexual wholeness. I’d love you to join me in the course.
Your Turn: How connected do you feel with your spouse? How connected does your spouse feel with you? What steps will you take to make that connection stronger? Leave a comment below.
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Need some Help with the Sex Part?
The Sexpectations online course is all about the issues in your heart around sex. You will deal with your sexual story, find the transformation Jesus offers, and write the next chapter with hope. You can do this regardless of what your spouse does or doesn’t do.
Don’t wait any longer! I’m inviting you to join me in the Sexpectations online course, and take the next step in finding the wholeness Jesus offers.