By Shelby Turner, Crosswalk.com
I glanced around the crowded restaurant searching for words but to my embarrassment, my mind was blank. I was sitting across from my husband, but I felt like I was on a blind date with someone I barely knew. It was our first kid-free night out together in the better part of a year and although I had been looking forward to the night, it had taken an unexpected turn.
In an attempt to take advantage of the small window of time we had together, my husband had suggested we not talk about our jobs or our children but instead just focus on enjoying each other’s company. Only four minutes into our kid-and-work-free conversation, here we were, awkwardly fumbling through a conversation about the weather.
How could we have nothing else to talk about? We’d been a couple for almost a decade, we were raising three kids and balancing ministry and career together. We were pros at running the bedtime routine, packing lunches, and checking homework. We’re even decent at coordinating our weekly schedules. But when all of that was off-limits and we were left to just talk about us, the conversation was shallow and dare I even say, uncomfortable.
What Is Your Marriage Made Of?
As painful as that night was, we needed it. We needed to be aware of the fact that too much of our relationship was focused on coparenting, house managing and schedule keeping and not enough of our relationship was focused on connection and care for one another.
The roles of husband and wife should be so much deeper and more personal than a division of responsibilities with a side of physical intimacy. But we all go through times when we feel disconnected and more like roommates than lovers. How do we reconnect in these times?
There are 5 tips listed below that I believe are going to greatly impact your marriage, but before we dive in, we need to discuss two things.
First, I know we’ve all heard that connection is fostered when we schedule regular date nights and show affection to our spouses according to their love languages. These things are wonderful and I highly recommend them, but I’m hoping to bring something fresh to this conversation.
And second, your marriage may feel dry and withered, but watering it with the tips listed below won’t be the answer. In the first few years of our marriage, our relationship was so shallowly rooted that our disconnection couldn’t have been resolved with a few simple steps.
If you know the roots of your marriage are shallow and that’s what has resulted in the withering of your relationship, I encourage you to follow the tips below but also seek help to grow your roots deep. For us, the roots of marriage that we have worked to grow strong are:
- honest communication,
- wholehearted commitment to one another, and
- personal devotion to Christ.
This process included biblical counseling, the gentle and profound work of the Holy Spirit and lots of grace-filled, candid conversations with each other and with God-fearing friends.
Now that’s established, here are 5 ways to reconnect when your husband feels more like a roommate than a spouse:
Photo Credit: Getty Images
1. Bridge the Gap of Being apart All Day
My husband has a fast-paced and demanding job. It would be incredibly easy for us to not talk at all from the time he leaves the house at 7:30 AM to the time he gets home at 6:30 PM. However, when our days are separate, we tend to keep our evenings separate as well. So we have begun connecting intentionally throughout the day.
Every couple is different, but here’s how we bridge the gap of being apart: Most days, I call him about halfway through his commute to work in the morning. We share what we’re excited for and worried about in our day and then we pray for each other. I pray for productive meetings, favor with his bosses and successful sales deals for him. He prays for obedient children, oceans of patience and long nap times for me. Later, he calls me on his lunch break, even if he only has time for a quick, two-minute check in. We catch each other up on our days and we say more prayers if needed.
Those two small phone calls intertwine what could be very separate days. And when he gets home, I have something to ask him. How did your meeting go? Did you close the big deal today? And the more we do this, the more our days stay intertwined. It’s amazing what this has done for us!
2. Be Your Husband’s Teammate and Not His Opponent
Repeat after me girls:
My husband and I are on the same team. We are not competing for the titles of most tired, works the hardest or has had the more exhausting day. Although we have roles that look very different, both of us are doing our part in working towards the common goal of a healthy, happy, faith-focused family.
I refuse to sacrifice the future of my family by positioning myself against the only teammate I’ve got. I will not fight against, undermine or withhold help from my husband. I will set him up for success, supporting what he needs to do his part on the team because when he wins, my whole family wins. We are for and not against each other!
3. Be the First to Lean In
You know that little sensor in your heart that starts going off when you and your husband begin to drift apart? As soon as you detect that that sensor is sounding it’s alarm, go ahead and be the first one to take steps towards repairing the problem.
You may be tempted to use that moment as a test to see if your husband will recognize the growing distance between you and then act quickly to fix it. But your marriage isn’t a test your husband needs to pass, it’s a vow you both committed to keep.
Snap out of that juvenile way of thinking and press in instead of pulling away! It can be as simple as saying, “I feel like we aren’t in sync right now. Can you fill me in on how you’re doing this week?” I promise you’ll find the connection and safety you crave more readily available when you lean in than when you lean out.
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4. Keep Your Emotions in Check
It seems a favorite past time of most women is taking a small reality and letting it spiral into an emotionally charged black hole in our minds. Feeling detached from our husbands is no exception.
When we have a busy week in our house and my husband and I don’t have time to connect in the evenings, I know I need to be on guard against applying the feelings of the week to our marriage as a whole.
For instance, the truth may be that my husband needed to work late several nights in one week and I’ve been on my own with the kids more than usual. The truth is not that my husband no longer loves me and isn’t interested in coming home to his family. In reality, he would love to leave work on time but by staying late at work, he’s fulfilling his place on the team as the provider.
Reconnecting with my husband is sometimes as easy as removing my non-factual feelings from the equation. I’ve got to check those outrageous emotions at the door. If there is no evidence to support them, I won’t let them create distance in my relationship and you shouldn’t either!
5. Put the Extras, Not Your Marriage, on the Back Burner
Sometimes it’s too easy to push our marriage behind all of life’s other priorities. And often we don’t even realize we’re doing this. Let me ask you a question that will help you see if your marriage has the priority it needs in your life:
If you continued giving your marriage the amount of time you gave it this week for the next five years, do you think you’d have a healthy, happy relationship? If your answer is no, then what can you put on the back burner this week to spend time connecting with your spouse?
House cleaning, kid’s extracurricular activities, vegging out to a movie at night, and getting just one more hour of work in are all good and fine things. But no matter how much they feel like it, they aren’t essential. Matthew 19:6 says, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Don’t let the busyness of your lives be what separates you. Instead make time to intentionally focus on one another even if that means you’ll need to reevaluate your weekly routine and commitments. Your marriage is worth it!
There is not a single husband and wife in the world that are always living completely connected. Every couple will go through seasons of feeling more like roommates than spouses. The important thing in these times is to begin taking steps to reconnect rather than staying complacent or moving further apart. God gave us marriage and the marriage relationship because he knew that it wasn’t good for us to be alone. So let’s do everything we can to live life together with the one God gave us!
Shelby Turner is a speaker and writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband and three sons. When she isn’t sharing Jesus from the stage or writing words on a page, you can find her building legos with her kids. You can connect with her on her blog at www.shelbyraeturner.com or she also loves to hang out on instagram at @shelbyraeturner.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Antonio Diaz