Five times my husband began to tell me about his phone call that had just ended, and all five times he was interrupted. We paused, corrected the interrupting child, and my husband would begin again, only to be interrupted by someone else, or some other request, or some other disagreement coming from the other room.
We set healthy boundaries. We teach our children respect and patience. We practice the, “If mommy and daddy are talking and you need to say something, just touch one of us on the arm and we will answer you as soon as we finish” method. Does this actually work in anyone else’s house?
But my husband and I are smack in the middle of the days when ball games and school schedules and jobs and little kids and unexpected emergencies and a million small things come up and it feels like our whole world revolves around everything and everyone but us – even while we are actively making sure that our kids don’t “rule the house.”
So how on earth do we find ways to connect in middle of everything else?
How do we find a minute to turn to our spouse and say… “This matters, too. You know, actually, this matters most. Let’s find a way to make this a priority.”
Here are five challenges to shift our hearts from being children or job or everything else focused to being marriage focused.
(And, yes, these are written for women, but absolutely apply to both partners.)
1.) Greet Lovingly.
When you come back together after you’ve been apart, say hello like you did when you first fell in love. It might mean walking away from what you were doing, but it sets the tone for the rest of your time together. If you can, pause, embrace, and welcome your spouse back into your space. 2 Corinthians 13:12 says to greet each other with a holy kiss. (That’s good marriage advice.)
2.) Speak Kindly.
Remember how you used to talk to each other when you were dating? How does that compare to today? Speaking honestly and openly is a part of the trust that we develop over time with our spouses. But honest conversation should never be confused with the permission to be disrespectful. Proverbs 15:1 says that gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up again. (That’s solid truth.)
3.) Touch Purposefully.
Remember when you were dating… or engaged… or newly married? Can we talk about how touching him probably wasn’t something someone had to remind you to do? What does touch look like today? Do you still hold his hand? Reach over and rub his back? Kiss him for no reason other than he’s so freakin’ handsome? Song of Solomon 3:4 gives us a picture of healthy love, “I found him whom my soul love; I held onto him and would not let him go.”
4.) Listen Intently.
Some days my mind needs space. I’m responsible for so much information and so many people, that there’s always this noise, this list, this constant internal dialogue of what needs to get done. And sometimes my husband gets tuned out with the rest of the racket. James 1:19 reminds us to be quick to listen, and it’s for good reason. Listening creates a space for connection. (Even if our husbands aren’t big talkers.)
5.) Thank Frequently.
I can get so caught up in what I wish my husband did or didn’t do… that I forget to thank him for what he does do and for who he is. Gratitude changes everything – even a hardened heart.
Would it be great if both spouses took these five steps?! Uh. Yeah. Absolutely. But the truth is, reader friend of mine, you can’t change your spouse. Can’t even make ’em want to change. Stinks, huh? But what we can do is start the cycle of love, and pray, and we ask the Lord to let our start echo throughout our homes.
And I think… that’s a really great place to begin.