How close are you and your spouse? How wide is the space between you? What’s in that space?
When your relationship began you probably felt you couldn’t get close enough. You spent every possible moment together. You shared thoughts and feelings even when you didn’t really have to. You wanted to know everything you could about your sweetheart, and wanted him or her to know everything possible about you.
Time marches on. Life happens. Things change. Something comes between you and your spouse. It may be something small at first: a harsh word, a misunderstanding, an unmet expectation. This becomes a brick on the ground between you. It’s almost small enough to ignore at first. You stub your toe on it once in a while, but mostly you just step around it.
Then something else happens, and another brick gets placed on the ground next to the first one. This time it’s a little harder to ignore. One brick after another they start adding up, and before long there’s a wall between you. No longer do you just occasionally stub your toe: now you bang your head against the wall – and get nowhere.
Soon you struggle to even see each other over the barrier. You start to wonder what ever drew you together in the first place. How did this happen?
Al (my husband) and I have made a commitment to keep the ground between us clean. That doesn’t mean bricks don’t show up occasionally, but it does mean we don’t allow them to stay there. We have what we call our nightly “board meeting:” before going to sleep we check in with each other. Sometimes everything is clear, and the board meeting only takes a moment. Other times we have something to deal with. We may not solve every problem immediately, but we come to an agreement on what needs to be done. We go to sleep reassuring each other of our love, thanking God for each other, and with no barriers in the space between us.
Some unspoken “rules” have made our board meetings work:
- It’s a safe place. We each have freedom to bring up anything bothering us, whether or not it involves the other one. The agenda may be some annoying behavior the other one does. It may be a financial or health worry one of us is carrying. It may be a decision we’re struggling with, or a feeling such as sadness, depression, fear, or even joy. Anything is fair game.
- Unselfishness rules. God’s grace allows each of us to care more about the other one than about our own self. Board meetings are never a time to try and win the other one over to our own point of view. It’s always a time to listen, understand, and move toward each other intentionally.
- Nothing interferes. Board meetings are not interrupted by television, or any other business. If one of us is unusually tired it may be a very short “meeting,” but we always check in.
The goal: no bricks on the ground between us. Then it’s easy to choose to move toward each other rather than apart.
Try your own version of a board meeting. It’s so much easier to sweep away a brick or two when they’re still small. Don’t wait until there’s a wall separating you!
Your turn: How is the space between you and your spouse? How do you keep it clean? If there’s a barrier between you, how can you begin to connect again? Leave a comment below.
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