Tuesday, July 12, 2016

4 Ways to Intentionally Connect With Your Spouse

I love quotes - I love that someone can succinctly capture what I'm feeling in an eloquent manner. Because I blog about marriage, particularly - dealing with a troubled marriage, I look for quotes that help me focus on marriage. I'm Rebekah, and I never intended to blog about marriage. I always thought I'd be writing about the joys and stresses of raising a son with high-functioning autism and sensory issues.

A few years ago, my marriage broke. Many hidden issues came to the surface and I'm positive that the enemy thought he would be successful in breaking apart my marriage. Through a great amount of time spent focusing on what God would have, I'm still with my husband. We're still working on us. And we're still raising our three children together.
Our oldest son is 16 and will be starting college as a piano performance major in the fall.
Our second son is 12 and has high-functioning autism and makes life a lot different than I imagined.
Our youngest, our daughter, is almost 10 and is full of life - she adds sparkle to our world! 

I recently came across this quote: 

True love stands by each other's side on good days
and stands even closer on bad days.


Over the past few  years of not knowing whether my marriage would even survive, this quote (or words similar to it) has come up time and again. 

The struggles we've faced in our marriage have seemed insurmountable. To be honest, I don't know of too many others who have faced similar issues and have survived. In fact, the world is quick to say, "biblical grounds for divorce - you're free!" 

But in those same passages, Jesus does not tell us that we have to divorce, does He? No. He gives us a way out if we need it - and I certainly understand that some people need it. (Worth noting: if you are in a relationship that is abusive, I strongly urge you to get the help you need.) 

We aren't going to get different results in our marriages, though, if we continue to act in the same manner. We have to change what we do if we want to see a different outcome. So what small things can you do now to make sure you're standing even closer on the bad days? 

4 ways to intentionally connect with your spouse

1. Hold hands. Be intentional about this. You might do this while you watch a show after the kids are in bed, or in the morning before one of you leaves for work. Squeeze. Let your spouse know that you are actively and intentionally spending those moments with them. 

2. Look into your spouse's eyes. Spending time with someone, and looking into their eyes creates a bond. We should desire that with our spouse, but if your household is anything like mine, you meet each other coming and going. Be intentional in spending time talking and looking into each other's eyes. 

3. Talk with your spouse. Make time - schedule it if you need to. And stick to it. Don't let other things become more important. Find a time that you both agree on, whether it's each day or every couple days, and carve out a chunk of time to just sit and talk. Remember the goal is to feel connected on the good days so that when tough times come, you have that solid relationship. 

4. Pray together. Recently I asked my husband what he prayed for when he prayed for me on his own. His answers really blessed me. I was happy to hear him express how he thinks of me and what he prays for on my behalf. Praying together, as a couple, solidifies the bond on the good days. It's a great habit to develop. Your prayers don't have to be anything super-eloquent, just have a conversation with God about the one you love. 

My husband seems to embody the quote above in the tough times. He likes to be close, he likes to cuddle and hold hands. This works well for me as quality time and physical touch are my top two love languages. But when times are tough I tend to retreat and I don't feel like sharing personal space. So he turns it up a notch. When he's talking to me and I don't look at him, or when he comes to sit with me and I pull away (because...eh-hem...I'm stubborn...) he will get between me and whatever I'm looking at. He will invade my personal space. He will be so close that I have to accept him or push him away. 

I think that's part of what has kept us together - my husband's unrelenting pursuit of "us", of honoring God together - even in the tough stuff. 

His should be the first hand I reach for, and together we should be approaching God in both the good things and the tough things. We need one another. 

Let's change our approach to the tough times. Grab hold of your spouse's hand. Cling to this verse from Mark 10:9 -
"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." 

Lord, draw us near to our spouse. Remind us that our marriages need time and effort, regardless of how busy we are. Help us to stand close in good times, and even closer in tough times. Rekindle love where it's needed, and help us not to throw away what you've ordained. 

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