I realized we stopped being intentional with our marriage. I realized we were living on autopilot and had been for a long time. Get the kids up and ready for the day, at night get dinner, homework, and baths complete then prepare to do it all again tomorrow.
Weekends were spent taking kids to dance, birthdays, and church, getting groceries and laundry done. I realized more often than not our attitudes and words to each other were not the same. Eye rolls occurred, short replies and hurtful tones happened. It became more frequent as time went on.
I think we took our marriage for granted. I think we felt so comfortable that we were good we stopped seeking the right way to love one another—we stopped being intentional. We finally sat down and said ok, “Something here is missing, we are disconnected.” We pointed fingers at one another for the cause until we were circling ourselves with blame. Our issue wasn’t anything monumental, there was NO infidelity, NO dishonesty, NO acts of ill will—we were just two people who stopped being intentional with each other. We stopped seeking ways to intentionally and persistently love one another. Not in our feelings but in our actions. After all actions speak louder than words.
I am thankful we stopped and said, “Hey our marriage isn’t what is used to be, something has fallen out of line and we need to change it.” I know so many failed marriages start right here at this line, so many failed marriages travel farther down this disconnected path before realizing they need to focus on one another again.
I thought about the ways we use to be intentional toward one another, ways we are now again being intentional. I want to share those here so if you find yourself beginning on the same path we found ourselves, you can stop, turn around, and be purposeful in marriage.
1. Make time to have one meal alone together during the week. We don’t have funds for a weekly babysitter and we have no village at all, so we take one lunch break per week to meet and eat together. This time with him is life giving for me. It is the ONLY time I have during the week to sit across from him uninterrupted by children and really talk with him. If you can afford a sitter, awesome! Make it your purpose to schedule a date night every week. If you are a SAHM and don’t have lunch breaks then make a point to ask your husband to come home during your kid’s nap time so you two can sit across from one another to share a meal and have conversation. When you have will you can find a way.
2. Pray OUT LOUD together. This is HUGE for us. There is something special about kneeling next to your husband and speaking the words on your heart to God in front of him, and it is equally gratifying to hear your husband’s heart out loud to God. The vulnerability it takes to do this is so connecting. When you pray out loud together there is no room for distress against one another.
3. Go to bed at the same time. I know this sounds like no big deal, but truly I believe it is. When I allow my husband to go to bed and I stay up for television or phone time it places a gap between us for disconnection to breed. Even if you are not tired, go to bed with your spouse. Take a book if needed. There is intentionality in being next to him.
4. Read the Five Love Languages TOGETHER. I hold so much stock in this book. My husband and I read it twelve years ago when we were 24 and 26 and it was life changing in how we loved one another. Now we are 36 and 38, we have changed and so has our love language.
A couple weeks ago—when we finally talked through our disconnect—my husband said to me, “I thought I was loving you well.” He listed a few things he was doing to show me love, but those things didn’t matter to me in this stage of life. Those things mattered to the 24 year girl he married, but the now 36 year old mother of his children found those actions no longer hold weight in my heart. As we completed the love language quiz we found he also doesn’t want to be loved the same way he did twelve years ago. Do this book, take it serious, know how to fill up your spouses “love tank” — I believe it will make a difference.
5. Be intentional with your words. If God would not be proud of the words you are about to speak, then rethink your words. You can express your hurt and sadness in a way that will glorify your marriage and not tear it down further.
6. Surround yourself with other strong marriages. My husband and I need this. Brokenness can sometimes breed brokenness. We found ourselves surrounded with marriages struggling with serious issues. I think somewhere along the way we pushed our issues aside thinking they weren’t enough to cause concern based on what we were witnessing around us. Never compare your issues to others. Whether lighter or heavier all your marriage disconnects deserve attention. Don’t give up your friends because their marriages may be failing, but do make sure to build a strong community around yourself of Christ focused strong marriages, couples who can pour biblical truth and support into you and your spouse as you journey this life together, then you can in turn pour out that support and truth to those struggling around you.