My husband and I have been together for thirty years (wait… what in the world?) and during that time we have experienced many valleys and mountain tops in our relationship. We struggled the most when we didn’t spend time together. Many couples feel like two ships passing in the night… radar might indicate there’s another vessel out there, but they can’t see or hear one another. In fact, they may be on a collision course without even knowing it.
The pace of our lives has become frantic—climbing the corporate ladder, raising overscheduled kids, trying to be the volunteer of the year—it’s no wonder we have precious little time for our spouse. Good relationships take time and they can’t be nurtured if you never see each other. Ask divorced couples why their marriage fell apart and many of them will tell you, “We just drifted apart.”
Another reason for this drift is unresolved conflict. If couples argue and walk away without resolution, an emotional wall can be built up between them. Things can then escalate to a little tit for tat and get out of control.
These are a few indicators that your marriage might be in trouble: You feel lonely even when you are together, you don’t feel emotionally connected, you don’t have much to say to each other, you often misunderstand and misinterpret each other, you intentionally schedule activities that don’t involve your spouse.
It’s natural for the feelings of falling in love and unending passion to start to wane after the honeymoon is over. When realities of daily life set in, even the most determined couples get a sense of the doldrums. To beat off these blahs, be intentional about your relationship. Here are some ideas to help keep your marriage fresh and fun:
Schedule a weekly date – We schedule everything else in life, why not time for each other? Your marital relationship must be a top priority in order to survive and thrive. Get away from the house without kids and talk about things other than paying bills or solving problems. Try going to a restaurant where they don’t say, “Do you want fries with that?”
The key is to think outside the box. So many times we settle for the tried and true dinner and movie date. But you can’t do much bonding whispering in a dark theater. Here are a few ideas… be creative!
- Have a picnic on the living room floor.
- Get out the wedding video or pictures.
- Take a walk and share your dreams.
- Trade baby-sitting duty with another couple.
- Have a weekday lunch date at a posh restaurant. You’ll go back to work with a whole new attitude.
- Plant a flower garden together – it’s a date that will keep giving for years to come (Maybe your next date will be weeding!).
- Attend a free community concert.
- Plan a progressive dinner. Have an appetizer at one restaurant, the main meal at another, and then dessert at a third.
- Go to a live theater production rather than a movie. Get tickets the day of the show for deep discounts
- Visit an art gallery, museum or art festival.
- Take a fitness or enrichment class together (photography, ballroom dancing, language, gardening, golf lessons,)
Nurture intimacy. Intimacy comes in several forms, all of which are important in a good marriage. Be affectionate; lounge in bed talking, go on long walks holding hands and kiss often and cuddle up on the couch when you watch TV rather than sitting on separate pieces of furniture. Foster the passion you had when you first got married. Most importantly, strive for spiritual intimacy. As with everything else, God should be at the center of your relationship.
Volunteer together. Give your marriage purpose beyond your kids. Work at the food bank or homeless shelter, prepare sandwiches for hungry children, build a Habitat for Humanity house, or read at an elementary school; it could be anything you enjoy. The point is to do it as a couple.
Do special favors for each other.
- Pick up his dry cleaning
- Get her car washed
- Have a pizza delivered to the office during a deadline
- Put a love note in his/her briefcase
- Send a text message or a cute photo from your cell phone.
Develop a mutual hobby. Try this: Make a list of ten activities you enjoy or would like to try. Have your spouse do the same and see if anything matches up. If he says camping and you say reading, there’s no reason you both can’t win—read at the campsite!
Have special celebrations. We all celebrate things like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries. Why not be more creative with some more obscure occasions:
- National Hugging Day (January 21)
- National Spouse’s Day (January 26)
- National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (June 7)
- Best Friends Day (June 8)
- Kiss and Make Up Day (August 25)
There you have them, just a few ideas to foster marital bliss. Together you can do anything!
Until next time,
Amy Hammond Hagberg
Author and Speaker