Mark: When marriage gets stale (and it does for all of us!), there’s a temptation to check out. We reason that if it feels like our spouse doesn’t care, then we won’t care. Or we tell ourselves that we’re the only one trying and we’re tired of being the only one trying. Or we feel like we do all the initiating and we long for our spouse to initiate in some way, so we respond by checking out.
Jill: This is NOT GOOD. Not good at all.
Mark: When marriage gets hard or stale or disconnected, it’s important that we actually check in, not out!
Jill: How do we do that? Here are some practical steps:
Check in on your heart:
When things get hard, it’s easy to point the finger. However, the first thing we need to do is look at ourselves. Are our expectations realistic? Are we unfairly casting blame? Are we holding on to hurt? Do we need to forgive or give grace? If you’re hoarding your hurts, stewing in anger, or casting blame, do business with God first. Get your heart cleaned up and available to God.
Lord, I know that I have __________________. I know this isn’t how you want me to handle life. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you for your forgiveness.
Check in to see how your spouse is doing:
Before trying to have a conversation about your marriage, check into how your spouse is doing emotionally and spiritually. They may not be tuning into you, but if you’re honest, you’re really not tuning into them either. Someone has to change that and you get the opportunity to do that! Here are some questions you might ask (don’t ask them all–just choose one to start with!):
- Honey, what’s weighing heavy on your heart this week?
- How can I be praying for you this week?
- Is there anything you’re worrying about that I can support you in?
- I know _________ is on your to do list. Is there any way I can help you with that?
- What’s one thing I do that makes you feel loved and appreciated?
Check in on what you’re doing to invest in the marriage.
(We talked about this on a recent podcast episode!)
Are you sending a text when you’re apart to let your spouse know you’re thinking of them? (Need ideas? Check out our free Flirt Alert resource!)
Are you reaching over and touching your spouse’s foot in bed?
Are you inviting your spouse to do an activity they enjoy so the two of you can be together?
Are you reaching over and holding your spouse’s hand when you’re driving or walking?
Are you inviting your spouse to snuggle with you on the couch instead of sitting in your separate chairs in the evening?
Don’t get stuck on who does the initiating or the inviting. In marriage, usually one spouse longs to connect more than the other. If that’s you, it’s okay to initiate. Your spouse’s lack of initiation has nothing to do with you. It likely has everything to do with the fact that they are content with the level of connection you currently have in your relationship.
The folks over at 80/80 Marriage shared this on social media recently:
Check in with your spouse to invite them to share ideas on how you might connect in some new ways.
Share with your spouse that you’d love to change things up a bit. Don’t accuse. Don’t do it in anger. Don’t tell them they don’t care. None of that will be helpful.
Instead, share your desire to do some different things that will help to keep your relationship in tune. Invite them to brainstorm some ideas with you. If you need some further ideas for how to communicate, you can find some here.
What about you? What have you done to check in and not check out?
Need a little more help? Our Marriage Playbook is designed to give you very specific ways to check in rather than check out. You can learn more here about this $27 resource here!
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