As we enter the fall season, the school year picks back up and, for many of us, life gets busier. In today’s #MarriageMonday, we’re sharing some practical ways we can stay connected in busy seasons, even when we’re apart.
Mark: In marriage, it really is important to stay connected throughout the day. We need to be intentional about letting our spouse know we are thinking of them. Especially as we approach a time of the year where life tends to get busier, this becomes even more important. However, what does that look like?
Jill: Honestly, this has been the biggest struggle for me. I’ve always got a running to-do list in my head, and for most of our marriage, we would say goodbye in the morning, and it wouldn’t bother me at all if we didn’t talk again until we saw each other at 5:00.
Mark: It wasn’t that way for me, though. I love to stay connected throughout the day; it’s one of the things that helps me feel loved, seen, and secure in our relationship. Especially on days where I might have to leave early, or Jill was up later than me, little moments of connection throughout the day make a big difference for me.
Jill: Honestly, as we prioritized this, I learned that it was actually good for me as well. Even though I may not “need” it, I’ve seen how valuable it is for our relationship. Therefore, it’s valuable.
Mark: Today we’ve got some practical ways to stay connected to share with you, but it all starts with having a conversation. Ask each other, “Are you happy with how we’re staying connected throughout the day? Do you wish we stayed connected more? Less?” These types of conversations don’t often come up on their own, so it’s important to take time for them. Listen carefully to what your spouse shares and what’s on their heart. If you both feel content, maybe you just consider picking one thing from today’s list to just change things up.
#1: Develop a Secret Word
Jill: The first idea is developing a secret word. Stick with me here: That word is to be agreed-upon by both of you. It could be silly, or it could be an inside joke, whatever word you decide, but that word gets either texted, spoken, or whispered to let your spouse know, “I’m thinking of you, and I see you.”
Mark: For example, you might get home after a busy day at work, and things are crazy. You’re wrangling kids and trying to get dinner on the table. It’s easy to become disconnected in the midst of it all. So if you just walk by with a little secret word that you whisper, it can let your spouse know, “Hey, I’m thinking of you. I see you. I want to stay connected to you even in the midst of this chaos.”
Jill: You can actually even use something like this for intimacy. Some friends of ours developed a secret word that, for them, means “I want to make love with you today.” They turned it into a game of sorts, and both have one time a week they can use the secret word (they, of course, can be intimate without using the secret word). However, this creates a level of anticipation throughout the day, and can communicate “I want you” in a way that is unique to their relationship.
#2: Text Throughout the Day
Mark: This is one we particularly use in the mornings. Especially when I used to run a construction business, I would often be up and out the door before Jill woke up. So Jill would often send me a text when she woke up, and just say, “Hey, good morning,” or, “I’m thinking of you,” or even throughout the day she would say, “Hey, how’s my man? What’s happening?”
Jill: Sometimes I’ll also use an app called Bitmoji. In that app, you can create a character that looks like you, and it will create various images that you can send. For example, there might be eight or ten different images that say, “Good morning,” or “I love you,” and that can be a fun way to communicate with your spouse.
Mark: We also have used GIPHY to share GIFs back and forth with each other. (Now, this isn’t a Christian app, so there are some edgy things you just have to scroll by sometimes.) I love the GIPHY app, though, because you can actually search for a phrase. If you want to send congratulations, you can search for that phrase and then you can find some fun little video GIF that moves and celebrates with you.
#3: Do a One-Minute Hug When You See Each Other
Jill: This, of course, happens when we’re together, but this next idea is an important one. Doing a one-minute hug has actually been shown to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of connection in a relationship. The core message here is not just about hugging, though. I know sometimes kids can make this tough, if you have young kids, but this core message is about doing more than the minimum. Rather than a peck on the cheek, maybe you give your spouse a 10-second kiss. Rather than a quick hug, you hold each other. This can go a long way in connection after being apart.
#4: Vitamin F2 for Your Marriage
Mark: Another item we like to recommend is Vitamin F2, which just stands for flirt and fun. I love to flirt with Jill and I love it when she flirts with me. I also recognize how easy it is to get stale in our marriage, and those are the times we have to re-acquaint ourselves with having fun.
Jill: I will be the first to admit that flirting over the phone doesn’t come naturally to me. That’s where something like the Bitmoji app has been really helpful to me! You can also get some ideas by downloading our free flirt alert resource!
Mark: Another way to flirt and have fun is to use wet erase markers and leave a little note on your spouse’s rearview mirror (or the bathroom mirror) that just says, “I see you,” or, “I’m thinking of you.” You can write notes with wet erase markers on any type of glass or mirror and it will come right off when you want to erase it.
#5: Workout Together in the Morning or Evening
Jill: This is something we have always found to be a valuable source of connection. We used to take a kickboxing class together before I had a rotator cuff injury. Now I’ve mostly recovered, but we do workout videos together instead each morning.
Mark: Even if it’s just taking a walk together after dinner, this can make a big difference!
#6: Read or Pray Together
Jill: These are big ones in simply staying connected on a day-to-day basis. Reading together is something Mark and I started doing after our marriage crisis. We would read sections of books out loud each night, and we would simply use it as a way to launch conversations. We would read something and say, “Oh okay, let’s talk about that for a minute. Have you felt that way?” It was really good for us because we weren’t just reading and taking in, but we were talking everything through. And if you haven’t read our book No More Perfect Marriages, that would be a great book to read together because it helps launch lots of discussions.
Mark: Praying together is also a big connection creator. Many times we struggle with that. It feels uncomfortable and we have to push through the awkward to make it normal. This is something Jill has helped me be more comfortable with, and it really is powerful to come together and hear the heart of your spouse, and pray together for what’s on each person’s heart.
#7: Loop Your Spouse Into Your Day
Jill: Finally, a great option is just to simply loop your spouse into your day. Maybe this is sharing what your agenda looks like before you leave for the day. When Mark remodeled homes and would finish a job or part of a job, he would take a picture of it and send it to me so I could see what he accomplished. Recently, I went and spent the day with our daughter and our grandkids and I took our grandson to get his haircut. So I snapped a picture and I sent it to Mark and just told him how that brought some memories back for me from when I used to take our boys to get their haircut.
Mark: We hope some of these ideas give you some fresh ways to connect with your spouse! More than anything, we want to encourage you to bring intentionality into your relationship, especially when life picks up and gets busy. It’s so easy to let your marriage go on autopilot, but this can cause us to drift apart. Instead, choose to prioritize connection and prioritize your relationship above all the other things you and your family have going on.
Jill: A little intentionality really can go a long way!
Looking for more marriage resources? Start with No More Perfect Marriages!
Do you feel like your marriage is hanging on by a thread (or you want to make sure it doesn’t get there)? Consider our Marriage 2.0 Intensive that we host at our home in Normal, IL. We only work with one couple at a time. We’d love to work with you!
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