The Challenge of Connection
By Jen Ferguson
“My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” - 1 John 3:18
Recently, while speaking at a conference, I asked ladies to write down one thing that was causing an issue in their marriage. I collected all the papers, mixed them up, and then read them aloud, keeping their anonymity. One of the top responses was connection: lack of time, desire, and/or ability to truly connect on an intimate level with her spouse.
This is the plain truth: our most important relationships need our attention. Just as plants require sunlight, water, and soil to grow, so does our marriage need the resources of time, intentionality, and care to grow. If we deprive our marriage of these necessities, we will not only cease to grow together, our relationship with wither and then, die.
One of the biggest challenges for many couples is finding time to simply be together. “But what about our kids?” I hear women ask. My response usually is something along the lines of this: One of the best gifts you can give your kids is a healthy marriage. Yes, I know they need to get to their extracurricular activities. I know they need time with us and we need to be invested in what they’re doing and how they are growing. But there is something so foundational to a child’s sense of security when they know their parents’ marriage is secure. And what better example can we set for our kids for their own marriages if we show them the importance of prioritizing our own?
Other distractions included work, volunteer work, and ministry. All of these things are good things! And yet, don’t we know that Satan can sometimes use good things to actually distract us from the very best things in life? Here are 4 ideas on how you can create more space and desire for connection with your spouse.
1. Actively work to fill their cup
We all know that it’s difficult to love when you’re on empty. The truth is, you both may feel empty at this present moment. But God will give you what you need if you ask Him. Because His love is unfailing and never-ending, He can supply you with the love you need to pour into your marriage. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Spend a few minutes brainstorming some ways you know your spouse would love to be loved. (Check out the 5 Love Languages if you need some inspiration!) Then, put your ideas into action.
2. Calendar it out
Just as you would schedule meetings for work, church, or volunteering, schedule time with your spouse that will not be rescheduled. Yes, life happens and from time to time, you may have to adjust your plans. But rescheduling should be the exception and not the rule.
Connection happens physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Carve out some time to talk with your spouse to discuss in which categories you’re already connecting well and where you feel you might need to up the game. Go to church together? Spend some time afterwards to reflect on the sermon, what God taught you, or what’s happening in your prayer life. Love experiencing culture? Go to a local play, hear a band, or tour a museum and then end with a meal to discuss your thoughts? Is your sex life lacking a bit? Why is that? Talking about sex is hard, but not talking about it makes marriage even harder. Emotionally, are you safe places for each other? If not, how can you each become people where you want to share your deepest thoughts and feelings?
4. Share your needs
Your spouse may really desire to connect with you and love you well, but s/he may not actually know what it is that you need in order to feel connected. Don’t think in your head right now, “S/he should already know!” because you will get nowhere fast with that mentality. It’s takes being vulnerable to admit that you actually do have valid needs. By the way, did you know that receiving attention is actually one of the needs that every human is designed to have? Yes, I understand that there is a risk in communicating a need—your spouse may not meet it. However, there is potentially even more risk to staying silent: you become a hotbed of bitterness, resentment, and loneliness.
There is absolutely no pressure to implement all of these ideas right this moment. However, spend some time with Jesus and ask Him where you should start. Even a small step is a step and one that gets you moving toward your spouse and toward connection.
For More Great Resources for Christian Couples, Visit Crosswalk's Marriage Channel.