Scott and I walked into the house and plopped onto the couch — me at one end and him at the other. We’d had a long, stressful day of work (another in a string of long, stressful days) and then spent the evening with his ailing mother. We were tired and wanted some peace and calm. I picked up the remote and turned on the television, hoping for some mindless program to ease the weariness that plagued me. A commercial came on and showed a beautiful, happy couple cuddling on the couch — contented in each other’s arms. I glanced at my beloved. How long has it been since we’ve looked like that, I asked myself. My heart ached as I realized that though we loved each other deeply, we’d been acting more like roommates than lovers.
I quietly scooted next to him, picked up his hand and held it. I looked into his eyes and we both smiled as he squeezed my hand and then kissed me. Fireworks didn’t flash overhead; no love songs started playing. But we’d made a simple gesture to reconnect, and that was enough for what we both needed.
With the chaos of kids and jobs and schedules that revolve around everything but marriage, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your spouse. At times, in fact, you may feel your relationship is more like business partners than sweethearts as you decided between whose turn it is to take junior to soccer practice or who gets priority for social activities that week. Fortunately, as my husband and I discovered, even small initiatives can have big payoffs in your relationship. Consider trying some of these simple things to get your marriage back on track when you feel disconnected.
Reconnect by greeting each other
It’s amazing the way a simple hello and a kind acknowledgment can set the atmosphere in a couple’s relationship. Sure, the kids may have driven you crazy all day and you just want to unload them as soon as your spouse walks through the door so you can head off to your “safe” space to unwind. But all of that can wait until you’ve taken those first few moments to see — really see — your spouse, smile and say, “Hey! I’m glad you’re home.” Your spouse will feel welcomed and wanted.
Kiss and touch each other
Kiss each other. They don’t have to be those long, passionate kisses like when you were newlyweds. Sometimes, simple kisses make for powerful connections. Dr. Michael Systma, a licensed professional Christian counselor at Building Intimate Marriages, once told me that you can learn a lot about the strength of a marriage by observing how often couples kiss. So, sneak some kisses every now and then.
The same thing is true for touch. You can hold hands while you’re watching television or when you’re walking into a store together. You can put a hand on a shoulder and squeeze lightly while you’re walking by each other. These quick connections don’t take any extra time, effort or energy — and they go a long way toward showing your spouse how much you love him or her.
Initiate connection moments
While many people laud the joys of weekly date nights, the reality is sometimes couples don’t have the time or the finances to go out. Even when they do, spending just a couple hours together once a week won’t necessarily help you and your spouse connect — especially when you both spend the rest of the week doing things separately. What can help you reconnect? Spending time together every day.
Start by taking 15 minutes out of your day — every day — to intentionally connect with each other and ask each other how your day went. Then really listen.
You will probably need to set boundaries with the kids so they understand “Mom and Dad Time.” If you make it a regular practice and hold to those boundaries, the kids will get the message. And if you really can’t snag 15 minutes, try 10. Be intentional. It matters.
The apostle Paul said it best: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3). When we set our minds on remembering the good qualities of our spouse and vocalizing our thanksgiving, it actually changes the way our brains work. Studies at the University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center show that when we focus our gratitude toward a specific person, our brain’s response is to activate a reward center that boosts our attachment with that person. In other words, the reward is that we want to experience that good feeling again and that makes us feel a greater bond to that person.
It’s so simple. So doable. And when you practice these ideas consistently, you’ll notice those connections with your spouse feel stronger once again.