How Will I Love Thee? Essential Ingredients for Connecting Emotionally With Your Spouse!
Think back to what it felt like when you were around your boyfriend or girlfriend, before you got married.
What did it feel like when you felt especially loved by him or her?
Recall the emotions you felt that drew you to him or her where you felt emotionally connected, intimate, in love!
Where you felt so close that you could barely breathe at the thought of being close to them. And being apart felt like an eternity.
Do you remember when you started dating? When you knew they were the one? When you couldn’t wait to see them again? When you finally saw them again, you couldn’t get enough of them.
How was it to imagine being together all the time? Thinking about getting married and living together, growing old together, until death do us part?
What are some of the feeling you would use to describe those times?
I recall one Christmas season. Our music pastor asked us if we'd be willing to participate in the Christmas choir. This was early on in our marriage. My husband and I both said yes. Honestly, I felt like a school girl. We were on separate ends of the choir and I would peak over at him during our rehearsals. A part of me felt giggly. I enjoyed looking over at him and seeing him close by, sharing in our experience, and still wanting to be right next to him. Although we were at separate ends, I felt especially connected to him and intimate as we shared those moments together; participating in the same adventure.
We’ve enjoyed several road trips in our marriage. It’s not so much the activity for me, as much as it is being together with my husband, spending time with him, and the conversations that deepen our relationship. Sometimes deep conversation, yet at other times silly, simple, laughable moments that make us feel so close.
One year, we were in the market for a new car. I definitely don't enjoy the car shopping experience. I am not good at negotiating. He is much better at saying no and playing the sales game. I’m so glad one of us is. We ended up making a small road trip out of our car buying quest. We traveled a ways from home to get the model and color and deal we were looking for. On our way back home, we took the scenic route. We made a spontaneous decision to stop at a restaurant overlooking the ocean to have an early dinner. We sang along to our Louis Armstrong CD. We laughed and delighted in each others company, making memories out of simple, every day life moments.
You may recall a few distinct occasions in your own married journey. Moments that were intimate, funny, romantic, or just simple circumstances that made you feel-good.
When my husband and I take our evening walks, I see elderly couples still holding hands, having picnics by the bay, or strolling the promenade. I plead, “Lord, let that be me!" I want that too. I want to look back when we are old and gray and hold onto the memories we’ve created, cherished, and built our lives upon that have made us husband and wife. I want to appreciate the good times and hard times we went through, realizing that we weathered the storms and came out stronger for it, and to recognize that together we gave birth to a life that was good, healthy, and flourished in love.
How do you create those moments of feeling connected? Being intimately one?
It starts with the act of love through undeserved grace and forgiveness. Just as Jesus choose to forgive us, we need to choose and extend that same grace and forgiveness to our spouse. (Romans 5:8)
Our marriage grows by being completely honest and vulnerable with one another.
Marriage is made stronger through surrendering our hardened hearts to God, praying together as husband and wife, and acknowledging that all good marriages come from the One Who conceived us.
What are the conditions you need to bring life into your marriage on a daily basis?
Live in the moment and allow your differences to sharpen your marriage.
My husband and I think differently, but knowing that he is open to hearing me and understanding my point of view allows me to have the same respect for him. I am more open to listening when I feel cared for, accepted, and cherished.
When your spouse speaks, don’t just hear what they say. Listen with the intent to empathize. What I tell my clients is that each of us grew up in a different home, a different environment, circumstances, and upbringing. We have learned how to communicate, understand, and process things in distinct ways because of the backgrounds we each bring into the marriage. There are also trigger points that set us off. Knowing and understanding our trigger points can help us prevent future disagreements or navigate around them for a less bumpy ride.
Respecting our temperament styles also means we “cool off” in distinct ways. For instance, after a disagreement, do you prefer to resolve the issue right away or do you need to process the situation before you respond? Understand that neither way is right or wrong. How you come together to resolve your differences is what makes your marriage steadfast. Usually one spouse will want to resolve the disagreement right away. For them, it doesn't feel good to have unresolved issues in your relationship or to know that you are upset with them. However, the other spouse might prefer to have space to process a disagreement. Decide upon a time when you will come back together to talk. Is it one hour or two? Don’t stew on it. Don't give the devil a foothold in your marriage. Take the time to calm down, pray, and ask God to help you use kind words. Realize, the one you are hurting in this moment is the one you love the most; the one you promised to love "for better or worse.”
As you think of other ways to connect with your spouse, I would encourage you to:
· Pray together – daily! It is essential for a healthy marriage
· Set date nights as priority - and keep them
· Read marriage books, regularly
· Take vacations to refresh and connect
· Fill your spouse’s “Love Tank” every day. Every morning you each wake up to an empty tank that needs to be filled with love and respect. You can make it overflow with physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or receiving gifts (Dr. Gary Chapman)
· Always be for one another. You are on the same team!
Do you need to ask for forgiveness or extend grace, just ask Jesus has extended to you?
How will you fill your spouse's love tank today?
What steps can you take today to make a positive change in your marriage?
And two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8