Jill: Can you believe that summer is here? The days are getting longer and hotter, and our summer calendar is already starting to fill up with baseball games, pool parties for the grandkids, and projects around our 100-year-old farmhouse.

Mark: Despite a busy schedule, it’s so important to remember to stay connected throughout the day. When we’re intentional, it helps us feel loved, seen, and secure in our relationship. Even if one spouse doesn’t “need” as much connection time as the other, intentionally investing in your relationship makes such a difference in our unity and connectedness.

Jill: It can be difficult to find that time when you’ve got errands to run, yard work to catch up on, a barbecue with your neighbors, church events, and a job to boot. It can feel like adding in time to connect with your spouse is just another thing to add to your never-ending to-do list. Can you relate?

Mark: What we’ve found in 41 years of marriage is that it isn’t so much about planning these big, grand romantic gestures (although those are great from time to time); it’s more about the little things that slowly, but consistently, fill up each other’s “love tank.”

Jill: To help you get started, we’ve compiled 10 great ideas to connect with your spouse this summer. You may have other ideas, but these are suggestions you can try right away!

#1: Go on a walk together.

Mark: This is one of Jill’s favorite ways to spend time together. Even a short walk around your block is a great way to disconnect from the fast pace of life, and take time to be together, whether that includes talking or just being with one another.

Jill: We often will find new trails in our area to hike together to see nature and new places within driving distance of our city. Enjoying God’s creation as we spend time together is a special time of connection.

#2: Do something you enjoy together.

Mark: Finding a common interest is a great way to connect with your spouse. This could be anything from doing yard work together (if you both enjoy that), trying new restaurants, learning how to play pickleball, or anything else. There are likely a ton of things going on in your town or city that you can do as a couple. Take a few minutes to talk: What would you like to try together?

#3: Get involved with something your spouse loves.

Jill: Unlike the last one, this one has to do with showing an interest in something that your spouse loves. For instance, Mark goes on walks with me even though it’s not his favorite activity. Before his convertible broke down, one of his favorite things was going for drives around town, so I would take a step into his world when we would go for long drives together. (The license plate was “TLKTYM,” which was fitting since we used that time to connect, talk, and just enjoy time together.)

#4: Book a short trip or a retreat to grow together.

Mark: We often recommend that you should plan to for small connection points each day, larger connection times each month, and time away each year. By intentionally having these rhythms of regular dates in your marriage, you are creating intentional investment opportunities in your relationship.

Jill: We recently went to a conference put on by Chick-fil-A and it was such a great time to be encouraged, learn from others, and have time for just the two of us. This was a great reminder of the importance of getting away! If it’s been a while since you had some one-on-one time with your spouse, this is a reminder to make it happen, even if you need to get creative about what it looks like.

Mark: You might even consider attending our Transform Weekend, a faith-based personal growth weekend for those ready to make a positive change. It’s specially designed for couples to share what they are learning about themselves or just want some intentional time to connect with their spouse. Our upcoming Transform Weekend for couples is July 12th-14th.

#5: Develop morning and evening routines.

Jill: Life looks different in the summer, especially with kids, but it’s important to be strict with those windows of time where you know you can connect with your spouse. This can be simple things like sitting next to each other instead of sitting in separate chairs in the evening. Or bigger things like intentionally waking up to have a “coffee date” first thing in the morning.

Mark: We’ve found that being intentional in our morning and evening routines has helped us establish connection time. It might take some time to establish a new routine that works for you and your family, but it is absolutely worth it.

READ: Morning & Evening Routines for a Connected Marriage

#6: Implement the one-minute hug!

Jill: We regularly practice this one because it’s important. Did you know that doing a one-minute hug has actually been shown to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of connection in a relationship?

Mark: The core message here is not just about hugging, though. Even with kids running around the house and things to get done, we all can set aside a minute of our day to show our spouse affection. This could look like other forms of affection as well: 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 makes a difference!

Learn more about The Power of a One-Minute Hug here.

#7: Develop a secret word.

Jill: Stick with us here. This one is a great way to add fun to your connection!

Mark: Pick a “secret word” that is to be agreed upon by both of you. It could be silly or it could be an inside joke, and whatever word you decide gets either texted, spoken, or whispered to let your spouse know, “I’m thinking of you, and I see you.”

Jill: Here’s an example of how you might use that secret word: 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 as you walk by your spouse you whisper your secret word to your spouse. In that moment, even though you don’t have time to pause and intentionally connect with your spouse, with one word you have to 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.”

Mark: 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.

Jill: Here are just a few secret word options to help you get started!

Dress Shoes
Olive Juice (When you mouth this one, it looks like “I love you”)
Let’s Go Away Together

#8: Send a couple simple texts throughout the day.

Mark: This is one we like to practice 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: You can even customize a character in Bitmoji to look like you and 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.

#9: Cook a new meal together.

Jill: I don’t know about you, but we can tend to get in a bit of a food rut. Week after week, our meals start to go on repeat. If you are a couple who enjoys good food and even cooking together, you can create more intentional time by spicing up this routine task that you need to complete daily anyway.

Mark: There are so many subscription services that make trying out new recipes convenient. HelloFresh, EveryPlate, and Home Chef to name a few! Or you may want to see what places are in your town that either provide a prepackaged meal or new cuisine to try!

Jill: You don’t have to break the bank to do this one. You can also find a new recipe online to make together and buy all the ingredients with your normal grocery shopping. Half Baked Harvest is just one example of a recipe website to get you out of your norm and try something new together. You may even decide to eat by candlelight or set up a blanket in your living room to eat on the floor. This can be especially fun if you have small children to join in on the fun and make dinner time seem extra special.

#10: Discuss a book or podcast before bed.

Mark: It can be difficult to find the time to listen to a podcast or read a book together. We’ve found that our pockets of extra time are often at different parts of the day. But, it’s far easier to discuss a book that we read individually in the moments before bed.

Jill: Podcasts are easy to listen to while doing household chores or even driving in your car. And we just love to read on our porch or cozy up on the couch. When we plan to talk about the book or episode we listened to later, we’re taking one of our favorite hobbies as individuals and creating a connection opportunity for us to grow closer together. You might even start with an episode of the No More Perfect Podcast!

Jill: We hope these ideas are helpful in bringing intentionality to your relationship or inspiring your own ideas! It can be so easy to let your marriage go on autopilot, but the danger there is that you can begin to drift apart when you aren’t intentionally rowing together.

Mark: It’s important to choose to prioritize connection and prioritize your relationship each and every day, even if that’s just in some small ways. A little intentionality really can go a long way!

Looking for an opportunity to grow this summer? Register for our Transform Weekend July 12th-14th!

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