Our current situation has extra bonded some relationships and exposed others to significant challenges. Our new friend and relationship therapist and expert, Regina Boyd, has offered to share some coping insights and tools for fighting for vs losing that ultimate love in the time of corona...
Old houses are often intriguing glimpses into the past. Some stand like grand ladies still in their prime—windows shined, siding painted, stained glass and elegantly carved railings beautifully maintained. Others have fallen into disrepair, mere shadows of their former glory.
Much like a house needs constant maintenance to run smoothly and stand the test of time, so does our relationship with our spouse.
Don’t assume your spouse can read your mind, likewise, don’t assume you can read theirs. To avoid unwanted (possibly needless) conflict, try to set aside a designated time every week to check in with your spouse.
Pick a time when you know you’ll both have a relatively undisturbed 30-60 minutes and a time when neither of you is completely exhausted. Discussing heavier issues or upcoming plans on Friday night after a crazy week or with your kids arguing about homework in the background will only leave you both feeling frustrated.
For example, you could meet with each other over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table before the kids wake up on Saturdays, or while the baby naps on Sunday afternoons.
Use this time to both take care of issues and for general maintenance in your relationship. Brief each other on things that need to be taken care of that week: what will our schedule look like, who needs to take care of what responsibilities, and what “issues” have arisen that we need address.
Because you’ve set aside this time, you can mentally prepare how you want to discuss any issues, or approach different topics. This time could also be used for forgiveness and reconciliation. Ask for forgiveness for times that you’ve been impatient, cold, or distant. And practice the art of growing in virtue by actively forgiving your partner in that moment.
It’s also a time to check in on your spouse when you’re both not completely worn down at the end of the day.
While there will be things that arise during the week that need to be taken care of immediately, it’s nice to know that you’ll have designated time together each week.
Keep Dating Your Spouse
William Somerset Maughan said, “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love.” It takes work to maintain any relationship, people change as they experience new and challenging things in life—your spouse isn’t any different.
Go out for coffee and ask them about their hopes and dreams for the future. Take them to dinner and check to see what’s troubling them. Watch the sunset from a bench in the park and find out who inspires them.
We change as we experience life. Getting married, having a child, new jobs, loss of a parent—all of these things can change how we look and react to the world around us. Continue to get to know your spouse as you experience life together.
If your marriage seems to have fallen into the same pattern every day, change things up. Like learning a new skill helps stimulate our brain, new shared experiences in a marriage can help strengthen our relationship. Find a new restaurant, attend a local free event, find something new to try that both of you will enjoy.
Know Your Love Language
There is something to be said for knowing each other’s love language.
Does your husband prefer small gifts that show you thought about him on your trip, or quality time spent with him doing something he enjoys?
Does your wife prefer a long hug and physical comfort at the end of the day, or that you accomplished some of the tasks that usually fall to her?
If your spouse appreciates words of affirmation, and you tend to show affection by doing acts of service they may still feel unloved even though you’ve taken out the trash every day this week, folded the laundry, and made sure the kitchen is spotless by the time they arrived home.
Make time to show them affection in the way they will most appreciate it.
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Like the Trinity cannot exist without God the Father, so can a marriage not exist without God. Prayer and our relationship with our Lord is the foundation upon which we build all of our relationships, most importantly the relationship with our spouse.
There’s a reason the saying “The family that prayers together stays together” has become such a mantra. We can’t do it all on our own. Our spouse will not fulfill our every need, and we cannot fulfill every need that our spouse has—only God can completely fill this hole.
If you aren’t used to praying together, start with the rosary or a devotional prayer book. Find a saint both you and your spouse would like to emulate and ask for their intercession in your marriage. Even if you can only find 10 minutes for prayer in a day—10 minutes is better than nothing.
These are just a few ideas to help you increase the connection in your relationship. Start today by picking one of these points to focus on. I would love for you to share in the comments below about which one you want to utilize first to strengthen your marriage.
What other ways have you found helpful for your marriage?
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