The glow of a perfect weekend away together feels amazing. We walk to the car hand-in-hand after enjoying some delicious food, glorious sex, loads of wonderful conversation and plenty of eye contact. We feel more in love, more in tune, more loved and that we were enjoyed by our one and only.
These are moments where we have intentionally and organically connected. We return home with new strength to our relationship, a nice tinge of excitement and fresh hope for our future.
But the glow can quickly fade as the week goes on. Even just walking in the front door we are reminded of the laundry, the washing up, kids that need to be picked up and the workweek about to hit us head-on. By the time it’s Wednesday the incredible weekend you just had feels like it was years ago!
It seems to me that staying connected in your marriage these days is a major achievement. There should be some kind of weekly award ceremony or reward points we can accumulate when we get to the end of the week and we have loved and prioritised time with our spouse. Or maybe we get to earn a day off by ditching our phone and paying our spouse some real attention. Wait a minute… that’s a good idea!
There are five big things that erode our sense of connection with our spouse over time. If we’re not mindful of them and actively working against them they will slowly sap the life from our marriage, making us feel more disconnected and lonely than ever before.
1. Not Enough Time Together
Do you walk in the door, say hi then head off and do your own thing? When your spouse makes a bid for your time or attention do you fob them off with a, ‘Just a minute babe, I’ve just got to finish this…’? Too much ME time and not enough US time leads to the slow disconnection of our hearts and eventually our lives.
Beck and I love to debrief the day together. She loves to come home from work and sit at the kitchen bench while I make dinner and hand her a glass of wine. Other times we sit on the lounge and just… talk. Debriefing the day is one of our rituals of connection.
Carve out some margin in your schedule every single week, reinstate date nights, choose time together instead of going into separate rooms and doing your own thing. You want to connect every single day. Text each other during the day. Debrief when the kids have gone to bed. Talk when you’re cleaning up the kitchen. Just make sure you connect every day in a meaningful way.
If you feel like most weeks you barely see each other because you work long hours, extra work commitments, the kids after school activities, teams or boards you’re on, sport and other commitments then perhaps you’re actually too busy!
If you’re too busy to connect with your spouse then you need to slow down, say no to extra commitments, tell your boss you need to leave on time and that you can’t work extra hours for a while.
Maybe, for a season you shouldn’t play sport or you need to step down from a commitment you made years ago.
I love what Bob Goff calls Thursdays. He calls them “Quitting Thursdays” because he always tries to quit something every Thursday to slow his life down and focus his life on what is really important to him and Maria.
What is one thing you can quit or say no to so you have more time to connect with your spouse?
It is so easy to get distracted and waste valuable time when you could be connecting with each other.
The other night, I went into the bedroom and started mindlessly scrolling through Instagram then played a couple of phone games and before I knew it, half the night was gone. I came out and guess what Beck was doing? Sitting on the lounge, on her phone. She had watched Masterchef with our daughter as well but we missed each other that night.
We need to limit our distractions. Put your phone in a drawer somewhere, turn off the TV or Netflix, sit down with the beverage of your choice and… connect.
Tiredness and exhaustion are killers of connection. When we’re tired we’re not at our best and we’re not giving our best. We can be short with each other, our tone can be rude, we take little things personally and we find it harder to be buoyant in ourselves.
If we’re tired we don’t want to talk or connect for long periods of time because we lack emotional stamina. Tiredness kills connection.
So look after yourself, get more sleep, go to bed earlier, stop hitting the next episode button on Netflix, don’t have your phone in your room at bedtime, drink more water, eat better and exercise. You can’t be at your best for each other when you’re always exhausted.
It’s so easy for this to happen. You start out strong and focused on each other and things are great! Then life happens. Kids happen. Your routine has shifted a few times and you haven’t established good patterns of connection again yet.
Maybe you changed jobs, someone got sick, COVID lockdowns happened. Maybe it was just the day to day grind of life that wore you out. But now you don’t feel connected because your priorities got messed up because life happened to you.
So re-prioritise each other. Make date nights a priority. Make talking after work or after the kids go to bed a priority. How can you, in your exact context and situation put each other back on the top of your priority list. Be creative. Brainstorm and talk about it together.
Which of these is affecting your connection the most? And, more importantly, what are you going to do about it?
Connection is the emotional foundation for your marriage. Build it every day. Have rituals of connection like debriefing the day and date nights. Send text messages and call when convenient. Don’t let the connection in your marriage wane. Go and get intentional and connect!