Marriage is hard. They don’t tell us this before we say, “I do.” Falling in love is far easier than staying in love.
After the wedding comes the marriage, and the work of connecting, communicating, and cohabitating.
Life was just okay; we were humming along unaware of our drifting apart.
My husband and I just celebrated 32 years of marriage. Some of them were delightful, some were incredibly difficult, and some were a mixture of both. Honestly, there were a few times; I wasn’t sure our marriage would last. When I name this truth for my clients, they breathe a sigh of relief. If a professional has tough times in her marriage, maybe there is hope for them, too! I assure you, there is always hope.
We get married because this is the person we can’t live without! We want to share our life with them–our thoughts, sorrows, joys, bed, sock drawer, and even the remote! We end up sharing far more than we ever imagined–all the good, bad, and the ugly. With kids, jobs, in-laws, finances, household chores and all the details of life, it is easy for couples to drift apart. I see it happen all the time. It happened to us.
Just before our 15th anniversary–in between the carpools, soccer games, and grocery list–it hit me that our marriage was consumed with the details and stresses of everyday living. We didn’t talk about hopes, dreams, thoughts, feelings, or ideas. We argued, negotiated, juggled, coordinated schedules, and tried to keep our heads above water with three kids, a mortgage, job worries, and health challenges… life stuff!
It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t good. Life was just okay; we were humming along unaware of our drifting apart. Real life is radically different from life depicted in movies, sitcoms, and fairytales. They seem to be void of the mundane things that take up most of our time and energy. Dishes, laundry, and frustrating commutes rarely make the big screen.
Life becomes an exercise in simply trying to get through the day. Kids sleeping in our bed when nightmares hit, because that was easier when you’re dog tired. Carpools and dinner on the run, because we were dedicated parents who wanted our kids to have every opportunity.
After homework hassles and bedtime rituals, we would collapse on the sofa, hoping TV would entertain or at least distract us until we fell into bed. A quick kiss, occasional sex, and off to sleep, only to repeat the pattern–day after day, year after year.
Disconnection leads to distance, discontentment, and the other D word. But we don’t have to settle for drifting apart. While we can’t get escape the hassles, headaches, and heartaches of daily life, we can choose to stay connected to our spouse in the midst of them. It is a choice we must make every single day. Here are five simple ways to reconnect or grow closer to your wife.
Hold hands like you are dating.
Think back to when you were dating; when you couldn’t wait to see your wife, touch her, and even hold her hand. Chances are that if you were near each other, you were touching. Don’t let this stop once you’re married. When you head to the ball game, grocery story, out to walk the kiddos or dog, take her hand, entwine your fingers and don’t let go!
Kiss her good morning and good night.
A simple gesture that goes a long way. Kissing is fun. Kissing is intimate, and often kissing leads to more! Couples often kiss when they are dating; long, slow, luscious kisses, and quick, sweet, gentle kisses, but this often changes as the years pass. Take the time to kiss her good morning and good night. And even a few times in between.
When you are watching television, at the movies, watching the kiddos, just sitting together and talking about your day, snuggle up together. We are created for physical contact, and it is easy to stop snuggling when your kids are crawling all over you, or your teens roll their eyes. Both happened in our home, but so what! Your marriage is your most important relationship, so move over kids and get over it, teen. Just say, “I love your mom, and we like to snuggle.”
Offer to help.
It doesn’t have to be a mushy or a long note.
At the end of the day, everyone is tired. Usually, the list of what needs to be done is longer than the hours remaining and increases stress and tension. While you might have assigned duties or responsibilities regarding your kids, home, and daily tasks, you can gain huge brownie points by offering to help. Your wife may say, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” But your willingness to step in and help her, will increase your connection because she will feel seen, known, and cared about.
Leave her a love note.
It doesn’t have to be a mushy or a long note. A simple note–letting her know you are thinking about her, will miss her while you are apart, hope she has a good day or even words of encouragement, will go a long way to communicating your love for her. You can use markers specially made for writing on the bathroom mirror, scribble a note on a napkin or Post-it note by the coffee maker, or even text her during the day. This small gesture will warm her heart.
These five simple ways to connect with your wife in the midst of the crazy busyness of life will help you stay in love. Your wife will feel loved and cared for; she will know that she is important to you. The big gestures are nice, but it truly is the little things done on a daily basis that will remind her of your love and keep you connected to each other. Try it and see where it leads!
Photo: Flickr/ Arnaud Chevalier