2 Simple Ways to Anchor Your Marriage
By Heather Riggleman
There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman. - Proverbs 30:18-19
The sun reflected off the water like a thousand tiny mirrors as my husband and I made our way across the lake in our ski boat. We skimmed over the surface, watching the loons dive as we passed by. We were on our way to the perfect fishing spot where we would spend the afternoon. After we arrived at the place Chris deemed to be the perfect fishing spot, he dropped anchor and began his fisherman endeavor while I adjusted my sun hat, applied more sunblock, settled in with one of my favorite books, and put on wireless headphones on before finding my favorite playlist.
Within minutes, Chris called out “Fish on” with a laugh and he was on a roll for the first hour. I congratulated my husband on his master fisherman skills before turning back to my book and tunes. I hummed the words of a song by Little Big Town:
Tell me how, how'd you get so far away?
All we have left are the memories of the love we made
Are you sleeping with your own regret?
On your side of the bed.
When I looked up from my book, I took in a different view - an unfamiliar shoreline. As I stood up in the boat, I pointed to the unfamiliar landscape and asked Chris about the anchor.
He pulled the rope in only to find the anchor was gone. The knot holding it in place and come undone. We had drifted from the perfect fishing spot! As I looked where we were, the words of Little Big Town still on my mind, I thought about how marriage can be like a boat without an anchor. It has a tendency to drift. We end up in places we don’t intend to go.
In the beginning, you’re close to the shore and there doesn’t seem to be a problem the both of you can’t conquer together. But then challenges start to come up and the drift begins:
Differing sex drives.
Life enters into the picture—raw and real. It blindsides us and each of us interprets, processes and deals with each situation differently. Sometimes the martial drift is subtle and imperceptible at first, but over time the distance is wide and threatening, and you wonder what the coordinates are to get back to each other.
Like today’s verse, navigating marriage is a lot like navigating uncharted waters—it’s a wondrous thing to be able to do it together. It’s also a wonderous thing how we can love each other. Every marriage needs an anchor to keep it from drifting.
Here are two tips that will help to anchor your marriage.
Remember what it was like before you met your spouse? How you navigated the world alone? What about the day you met your spouse? How did that feel? What do you remember about those early days in your relationship? If you don’t feel the same way, often the missing element is TIME TOGETHER.
If you and your spouse are passing ships in the night and roommates in the daylight, you won't get much out of your interactions and eventually resentment sets in. Choose to time together.
Date night is vital to a marriage. But if it’s a routine event in which you go out and sit across from each other checking email on your phone or talking about the latest outrageous thing your 11-year-old did to get out of chores, you are not deepening your connection—if anything you’re proving how little you care or respect your spouse.
Think of “connection driven” activities you two used to like doing together and change it up often. Ditch the kids and go for a long walk after dinner. Take a scenic drive to get ice cream. Hang curtains together or take a cooking class. Head downtown and take in the sights. Go for a run together, go camping or fishing. It doesn’t matter what it is that you two do, so long as you are doing it together. This will help both of you open up and disclose your deepest thoughts and emotions. It can only make your connection stronger.
2. Get Physical
When couples first enter into marriage, they can’t believe the idea that one day they may have to “work” at rolling in the sheets. During the early phase of marriage couples barely come up for air due to the excitement of falling in love.
One of the many reasons is because physical affection creates a bonding chemistry. Scientists have discovered that oxytocin (a bonding hormone) causes couples to feel euphoric and turned on by physical touch. It actually works like a drug, giving us immediate rewards that bind us to our lover. As basic as it may sound, the first step to building a thriving sex life is to recognize that intimacy requires effort.
Other ways to enhance that physical spark include:
- Hugs, tender touch, holding hands, and cuddling are great ways to affirm your love for each spouse. This includes holding hands in public.
- Activities that you and your partner sit close tougher like riding carnival rides tougher. Sitting together when you watch movies. Sitting next to each other at restaurants.
- Cherish the seemingly smaller physical moments such as putting your arm around your spouse or when you kiss or brushing hair out of your partner’s eyes.
Do you feel like your marriage is starting to drift? Which of the above “anchors” do you most need to introduce or strengthen? Can you think of something else that would help to keep your marriage from drifting? If you find at the end of the day that no amount of effort is reciprocated, there are a few things you can do. Remember God’s got this and keep your faith in Him even when it feels like your marriage is falling apart. Consider seeing a Biblical Counselor for yourself and when you feel ready, invite your spouse. Keep in mind that you can only control you.
You can also consider the following:
- Ask yourself and your partner how you both got here.
- Discuss your needs openly with each other.
- Don’t blame your spouse for the situation. Ask yourself what was your role in this?
- Pray over your spouse and for your spouse.
- Pursue your spouse.
Couples that desire to return to the closeness they once had can make it happen by dedicating time and energy into their marriage. Break out of the rut, drop the anchor and focus on what you can do to rekindle the intimacy in your marriage.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is an author and a former national award-winning journalist. Her work has also been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at heatherriggleman.com or connect with her on Instagram.
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