Have you ever laid awake in bed next to your husband and wonder if you’re drifting apart? Or maybe you didn’t have to wonder. Maybe you really really knew that you were drifting apart. And it scared the crap out of you. You never imagined that happening before you got married, but you can kind of understand why it’s happening now.
I want you to know that if you’re having those thoughts, there’s hope for you and your marriage! It doesn’t necessarily need to get worse. But I’ll be honest. Change is hard. Marriages often drift apart because husbands and wives become comfortable and/or selfish. And purging that is, well, uncomfortable. It takes work and it takes change. On both ends. Intimacy is a two-way conversation and, in order to thrive, you and your husband will need to work together.
That being said, change needs to start somewhere- and very often it will start with one spouse making the hard changes first. So, to you reading this, change has to start with you. Praying for your marriage starts with you. Selflessness starts with you. So. Are you ready to get started?
Let’s dive in.
1 | Pray alone and together
If you feel you and your spouse drifting apart, you will need to start or continue to pray for your spouse and your marriage by yourself. I’ll warn you: this can be so hard. You might possibly be the only one who realizes where your marriage is going and that it needs help. And talking to your spouse about it is great, but sometimes you won’t get the results you’re looking for, or as fast as you’d like. And that’s just the reality of marriage.
That’s why our marriage (and our entire lives) need to be saturated in prayer. As much as we’d like to, we can’t control everything. And as much as we may think so, we may not even necessarily know what’s best for us, our spouse, and our marriage. But if we pray for our marriage, God will often help us to see what He would want for our marriage. And it often looks different than what we had originally thought.
Praying for your marriage will help you and your husband turn the focus from not only yourselves, not only each other, but to God. And it’s then that both of you will feel less hurt when you’re wronged by your spouse, because you will feel the same grace towards them that God gave you. And it’s then that you will want to treat your spouse with kindness and love, not based on their actions towards you, but because it’s how Christ would want you to treat your spouse.
That’s why prayer is the first point in this list. It’s essential in order to make anything else in this list work. Of course, we can pray for our spouse with a spirit of selfishness hoping that God will convict them and show them how selfish but they are. Or we can pray with a spirit of humility asking God to change us and help us love our spouse. And in that same spirit of humility, pray for change in our husband’s life as well.
So, getting alone with God is essential. But praying with your spouse is wonderful! Praying with your spouse helps you to align your wants and desires with God’s wants and desires. It helps you to be selfless. It’s helps you to care about others. AND it puts the focus of your marriage on God rather than you, your husband, or even your marriage. “Huh? The focus of our marriage shouldn’t be our marriage?” Nope. Sure, it’s great to have a “good” marriage, but a good marriage is not the end the epitope of a Christian faith like so many make it out to seem. I plan to write a post on this later, but for now, read This Momentary Marriage to learn what I mean by that.
2 | Work on something together
One (somewhat hidden in plain sight) reason why I think couples tend to slowly veer in opposite directions is because they are chasing after different goals. I mean, think about it, if you and the hubs were working together towards the same goal, you’d probably be spending a good amount of time together, talking together, cooperating together, and just hashing it out together.
Having a common goal doesn’t just give a couple something to talk about. It’s something to work towards together, it’s something to dream about that will exercise your talents.
Now you might be thinking…
“Ok. Parenting does that.”
Sure. Parenting is full of little goals and requires husbands and wives to work together. But parenting doesn’t last forever. If parenting was the only thing a husband and wife worked together on for 25 years of their marriage, will they still have something in common when their topics of conversation move out of the house?
Instead, besides parenting, try to find big or small goals to work towards together. No, you don’t have to start a nonprofit with your husband. But maybe you two can work together towards eliminating your debt (here’s a great post on that, btw), building a cool desk together, or sharing new health and fitness goals!
3 | Enjoy a separate hobby
Years ago I read a blog post (or was it a book?) that said husbands and wives should have separate hobbies. Which might be odd advice to hear when you’re trying to learn how to grow closer to your spouse. Their reasoning went something along the lines of this: My husband is obsessed with soccer. He plays it, referees it, coaches it, watches it, follows it on Twitter. He and soccer have been like peanut butter and jelly since we’ve been married. In fact, during our honeymoon was his fav team’s biggest signings. So, of course, we had to live stream the signing in our hotel room in Maui. Not how I pictured us spending our time. Now, I like soccer. Before I dated Josh, I felt pretty meh about soccer. But since this is such a huge hobby in my husband’s life, to me, he is a soccer guru. If there’s anything I want to know about soccer, I ask him first, before even searching the internet. It’s something that I’ve grown to respect and love about him (despite the occasional inconvenience).
And the same thought goes for the other way around.
I’m a writer/blogger/content creator person. If my husband wants to know anything about that kind of thing, he asks me. To him, I am the expert in internet and blogging and writing things because that’s something that’s unique to me. It’s something that he respects about me and if it comes up in conversation with his friends, he’ll reference me as a credible source!
The point is:
Having separate hobbies will not only give you something to talk about, it can give you something to respect about each other if both those hobbies are healthy. If either spouse goes too far with a hobby (like spends waaaaay too much time on) the hobby could turn into a reason for resentment between the two of you. So, have unique hobbies, in moderation.
4 | Get alone
Two weeks ago, Josh and I had the chance to drive across the country together (from Virginia to Washington state. His family and my mom flew with the kids while we made the 40+ hour drive together. Alone.
And you know what?
It was glorious.
Although we were stuck in a car for pretty much that whole time, we actually had whole conversations. Without being interrupted. The first day or two we felt like we were forgetting something.
I’m sad to say that this was our first extended period of alone time since having kids. We also hadn’t had a babysitter all summer so by the time August came around, we were parched for some alone time. And it wasn’t even time when we necessarily wanted to be physical or intimate. I think the thing we had been missing was a tiny reminder of what our lives were like before kids were in the picture.
Yup. I said it.
Sometimes we miss the days when we were able to be spontaneous and just leave the house whenever we wanted to. Or when we could walk around naked or shower whenever we darn well felt like it.
That being said,
We would never ever ever wish to make our kids go away. But a few days of alone time with a spouse never hurts (hopefully). And I’m sure about 98.5% of parents could agree with me on that one.
5 | Cut out resentment
I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done. And right you are.
Resentment, for the most part, is involuntary. It happens when we have some sort of unmet (often, unsaid) expectation for our spouse. It gets even worse when it is something you’ve tried to talk to your spouse about and the expectation still goes unmet. So what do you do then?
Basically, the only options you have are:
- Express more (or better) how your husband’s actions (or lack thereof) affect you
- Tell him that you really believe he can do better
- Pray for him to change on his own
- Leave little naggy hints
- Leave BIG naggy hints
Whatever you do, don’t become a victim (read more about that in this post). That happens when we go about not addressing issues of unmet expectations and resentment and almost always ends in estrangement. Also read these posts for more helpful info on that:
Why you should never ever, ever compare your husband to another man
Handling Unmet Expectations in Marriage
6 | Sex and cuddles
This kind of goes without saying simple because every other blog post in the world says it. But I can’t leave it out.
Sex is so needed, guys. But it can’t stop or start there. There needs to be intimacy. And sure, sex can help with that. But many of us know that sex without intimacy is a definite possibility in marriage. It might be an issue of insecurity, resentment, plain ol’ business, or maybe even laziness. Whatever the reason intimacy might be lacking, sex can help to build it. But sex can come up short if there’s not a sense of intimacy between you and the hubs.
I’ve found that, in times when I was not nearly in the mood for sex, that it was often because my mind wasn’t in it. It was on our kids, my work, or whatever I was doing in that moment that I didn’t want to have to put aside for sex. In those moments, I didn’t want sex or really care about being intimate with my husband. I mostly just cared about what I was already doing. If you find yourself in moments where sex feels more like an item on your to-do list rather than something you get to enjoy with your husband, try communicating with him that you need time to change your mindset before sex. Or tell your him what would help to put you in the mood. When Josh takes the time to help me do the mundane things that are usually on my list, it says to me that he’s thinking about me, cares about me, and appreciates me. As cliche as it might sound, some days, having my husband do the dishes can do way more for me than music and candlelight. Find out what helps you to feel intimate with your husband and foster that with your husband. Sex will usually follow.
7 | Compliments
You know what never feels bad? Compliments. Unless they’re backhanded ones. Don’t use those. Imagine a world where your spouse didn’t respect you, mocked you, discouraged you, and didn’t believe you could do anything right. How close would you feel to that person? If that were me, I know I’d hammer up some walls real quick.
Imagine a world where your spouse thought you were talented, attractive, fun to be around, AND actually told you those things? Yes, of course, we strong women don’t need compliments from men. We can compliment ourselves, darnit. But isn’t it nice to hear it from someone else. Especially if that person means a lot to you?
Now, if I’m not crazy, I think a lot of women will answer yes to that. But for whatever reason, we feel like men don’t or shouldn’t need compliments. I had a woman write to me once and say that she had better things to do than stroke her husband’s fragile ego.
I mean, are we really doing harm when we compliment someone? Or at the very least, respect them? I mean, that person you’re married to is stuck with you for a while. Why not make them feel good when they’re around you?
8 | Physical touch
This happens in the moments between the sex and cuddles. Almost as if to say to your husband, “Hey, I’m still here.” It might be as little as a back-pat when you walk by them or intentionally sitting reaaaaalllly close to them on the couch during the movie you watch before bed. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s just something about a kind little touch that reminds the other person that you’re on their team. And depending on your spouse’s love language, you may or may not want to do this more often. Just remember: men need hugs, too.
9 | Go to bed together
I feel as though this goes along working together towards a common goal. When a couple goes to bed separately all the time, it’s probably a sign that you’re lives are headed in two separate directions, that you two care about different things and don’t spend time recapping with each other at the end of the day.
Aside from this, going to bed at the same time as your spouse but spending that 15 minutes or so laying in bed together before you fall asleep staring at your phone doesn’t count. You might be laying next to each other, but you’re not together. Use that time to talk about your day together. Or talk about the next day. Or to do that sex or cuddling we talked about. Or to laugh together. Or maybe just lay in silence together. It’s my believe in this day and age that we have a very hard time not being distracted by something. If I have a free moment, I’m on my phone. If I’m nursing my baby, I’m on my phone. If I’m about to go to sleep, I’m on my phone. We- myself included- need to remember that life is lived in the little moments. Memories are made in those moments. If we keep patching up the gaps of life with screen time, I think we’ll miss out on a lot.
10 | Be active together
Speaking of making memories, they’re not always made by chance. Instead, who says you can’t be intentional about making memories together? Whether it’s a weekly date night that’s always a little different from the last or taking a bigger trip each year, use a little creativity (or not. There’re no rules that say you can’t do what someone else did that looks fun) to mix up life a little bit. Inserting a little more fun and variations into your life will help you and your spouse to feel like you’re living for more than just a paycheck or to make sure your little humans don’t kill themselves.
Besides living it up, be conscious about your health together!
This also falls into the Work Towards A Common Goal category but goes even deeper than just having a common activity or eating habit. It reflects the values that you and your spouse share.
11 | Laugh together
I want to apologize in advance to all the people I’m about to offend. Please don’t hate me. But I actually really really don’t like any sign with the words LIVE LAUGH LOVE. I love my MIL so much. But she gave me those 3 words cut out in wood and painted white and said they’d look great on our living room mantel. So on the mantel they went. And honestly, I was embarrassed to look at them. So when we moved, they were one of the first things we “consolidated” (aka purged). It’s not that I hate living or laughter or love. I just feel like putting those words on your living room mantel is the equivalent to Miss America wishing for world peace. There’s just something cliche about saying that you like love and laughter. It’s like saying to a group of friends, “Oh I LOVE adorable puppies!!!”… because who doesn’t?
That being said, your husband didn’t marry a maid. If I had $10 in my pocket right now, I’d bet that you two found stuff to laugh about while you were dating. Do you still laugh together? Why or why not? If not, try to remember that life (or yourself) shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Poke some fun, and laugh about it when the fun poking is pointed at you.