Growing and Connecting with Your Spouse
Do you remember when there were no children in your life? Hanging out with your spouse was your first priority. You had fun going on dates. You had time to talk and share with each other your day’s events. And sex was something you looked forward to. And then along came Ryan or Megan, and then maybe Benjamin or Kaylee. Suddenly, life became centered on your children. Time for each other as a couple was rare.
If you and your spouse plan to be a happy couple after the children have left, you need to grow and connect with each other today. While there are no guarantees that you and your spouse will be one of those cute, old couples in “When Harry Met Sally,” there are things you can do to increase your odds.
When I think of the marriage ceremony, the unity candle is an excellent symbol for what should happen in marriage. Two candles (two people) come together to light one big candle (one team). A healthy marriage has unity. Always think of your spouse as a teammate. Create a marriage with a shared vision and shared goals.
Your husband should be your best friend, and you should be his. Your marriage is a place for intimacy, and being intimate means sharing completely and honestly who you are – your feelings, likes and dislikes, your dreams, and what is important to you. Intimacy happens when both people can share anything and feel safe in doing so. You and your spouse will always be growing, so take the time to understand each other in every way – socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Intimacy is only achieved by spending time together regularly.
Safety in marriage comes from knowing you can trust your partner completely. Being trustworthy means you love and respect your spouse. You keep your commitments and strive to treat each other with compassion and understanding. Your spouse needs to know without a doubt that you are not going anywhere, even when the going gets tough.
Every marriage has conflict and every couple has differences. In my marriage, we fight over disciplining the children, among other things. If you are going to grow and connect with your spouse, you have to learn to work through your disagreements. Make every effort to understand each other. Understanding comes about when you can listen with your heart. It’s so much easier to brainstorm win-win solutions when there is a clear understanding of what is important to each partner.
Speaking of differences, the healthy couple accepts and embraces each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If you think about it, there is a positive and a negative to every quality. I have a lot of compassion, but sometimes I am too sensitive. My husband provides structure in our family, but sometimes he is too rigid. When one spouse has a perceived weakness, often times the other balances it with a strength. For instance, my flexibility and his structure often conflict. However, our family needs both. Encourage the development of your spouse’s strengths and be patient with the weaknesses.
When you spend time getting to know each other and sharing yourself, you will naturally feel affectionate. Sexual intimacy is an important element in marriage. In order for women to desire sex, there needs to be healthy emotional intimacy. And men, unfortunately, achieve emotional closeness through physical intimacy. It is important for each partner to work to satisfy the other’s needs. Make the time to ignite the passion.
It is important for a couple to grow together, but it is also important for each person in the marriage to grow individually. It takes a lot of hard work and maintenance to make your marriage thrive, but it is well worth it. Your children need a model for a healthy marriage. And, when the children have left to start their own lives, won’t it be nice to look at your spouse and say, “I want to spend the rest of my years with you, my friend?”