How to Warm Up a Winter Season in Your Marriage

a couple on a couch warming their sock-clad feet by the fire
iStock/Thinkstock

Sometimes, I really miss my husband — even when we are sleeping in the same bed or working in the same office. I feel the emotional distance despite the physical proximity because during this season of our marriage, Greg and I have been extremely kid-focused, and running hard with work. We've been carting kids to soccer games, basketball games, speech therapy, doctors' appointments and school activities. At home we've been supervising the kids' homework or watching Disney movies with them. These are all good and productive activities; however, Greg and I have not made the time to go on walks together or sit on the deck and chat.

Our alone time has been limited; we feel disconnected, and I miss him. I miss the times of traveling together, just the two of us; I miss the kids going to bed early and leaving time for us to watch Hallmark movies together; I miss having a regular date night.

Most likely you and your spouse have experienced similar seasons in your marriage, the seasons of frantic family chaos and blowing kisses as you pass each other in the hallway or of work frenzy with back-to-back trips and eating alone in an airport. With the weather turning colder, sports commitments dwindling and holidays approaching, I'm looking forward to slow-cooker dinners with the family, making time for date nights again and evenings with Greg and me in pajamas snuggling on the couch.

Emotional seasons of marriage

Have you experienced these seasons?

Winter: The emotional relationship in your marriage is cold and distant. The icicles of indifference are beginning to form because your marriage lacks the warmth of a cozy fire that once burned bright.

Spring: Your marriage is full of new beginnings and hopeful anticipation of what's to come.

Summer: You and your spouse are connecting on fun adventures and laid-back nights by the bonfire. The romance in your marriage is rekindled and reignited.

Fall: The connection with your spouse may seem much like the leaves that are turning brown, drying out and falling to the ground. Although there are still some vibrant colors mingled with the brown, your heart longs for the months of new growth.

Hope for a climate change

While you can't change the weather seasons, you can change the emotional climate of your marriage with some intentional effort.

No matter if you're in a season you don't enjoy, I have hope to offer. You don't have to remain stuck. If we wives intentionally pursue our husband, the emotional climate of our marriage can change quickly, especially if we keep the following principles in mind.

Wives have influence. Use it to change the warmth of a marriage relationship. Changing your own behavior may trigger your spouse to want to be more intentional about spending time with you. These words by Dr. Marina Benjamen, in "Marriage Myth: Spouses Can't Change," have inspired me:

We have the power to create dramatic and long-lasting changes in those around us. The secret lies in how we target our energy and efforts, because our capacity to change others is entirely based on our willingness to change ourselves. This is not double-talk or trickery, it's simply the reality of relationship dynamics.

If I create a change in my own attitude and behavior, my spouse and the marriage itself will automatically be forced to change.

Often we forget about the incredible influence of a wife. Typically, we want to focus our attention on our husband's behavior and what he is or isn't doing. Instead, I want to encourage you to focus on what you have control of — you! You can change many things, including your behavior, your views, your attitudes and your perspectives. These will all have an impact on your marital system, and who knows the effect it may have on your spouse!

Is there a behavior you desire to see in your spouse? Model it! It's catching! It sounds so simple — but as wives we can influence our husband's behavior through modeling what we desire to see. If you want him to speak kindly to you, speak kind words to him. If you want him to compliment you, speak affirming words to him. If you want him to praise you, speak words of gratitude to him. You will never know the impact, unless you try it!

Recognize that all couples go through different seasons in their marriage. Even the best marriages go through seasons that are a bit colder than others. People will often look at Greg and me and say, "You guys must have the perfect marriage." I always respond with, "There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. And we experience the different seasons of marriage, too."

Erin Smalley serves as the strategic spokesperson for Focus on the Family's marriage ministry and develops content for that department.

Based on research and experience from Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, Focus on the Family has created valid and reliable questions that evaluate the strength of your marriage. Take our free assessment now.

© 2017 Focus on the Family.

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