The Simple Things That Are Saving My Marriage

(even making it thrive)

Most of us know how it feels to be disconnected in marriage.

Perhaps it's just a phase. Hopefully a short time in our lives.

Sometimes we try to find the quick fix.

You don't have to look far to find a myriad of options to ensure you have the best marriage possible: 7 principles..., 10 keys..., 5 reasons..., etc.

Most of these include great ideas about improving communication, understanding conflict, navigating finances, a great sex life, family relationships, etc. These are all very important and helpful, but knowing about these things is one thing, putting them into practice is more difficult.

When there is so much that seeks to pull us apart in our daily lives (never mind the idea of conscious uncoupling), it's the simple things that keep us together.

My wife and I began to implement 3 things into our schedule and we're finding they make a huge difference for us.

1) Date Night
I know, I know - old news. 
Who doesn't know they should have a date night as a married couple. Actually committing to it is a different thing. 

This year we booked our date nights a year in advance by buying a package of tickets for the Symphony as well as a theatre company we love, rekindling shared loves. Any other date nights we throw in are bonus.

You don't need to spend money for a date night though, or even get out for that matter. Some of our most romantic evenings have been after putting the kids to bed and doing something special together. No guys - not just that. 

Think: a candle-lit dinner, easels set up and painting together (even though I'm not so artsy!), time reading a book out loud, listening to an album, watching a documentary that's especially meaningful to one of us. 

Date night is setting aside time to connect or reconnect - sharing who we are with one another, enjoying the gift of the other person, no matter if that's on a walk, on your couch or a night out.

2) Marriage/Couple Time
Now I have you thinking, "wait - didn't he already say date night?"

Let me ask you this: have you ever been on a date night and one of you brought up a topic that ended up totally sabotaging the date night? You end up having a needed conversation but it's not the right time to have it. Someone is surprised by it, one or both get emotionally flooded and date night doesn't end up like either of you hoped or expected.

So, why not set aside date night as a positive connection time and set aside another time for those intentional conversations that need to happen. That way, you can know that there is a time to bring up something that needs to be discussed. I'm not saying the conversation will be easy, but at least it won't be a surprise.

Not that Marriage Time always has to be a heavy. It's a time to check in and encourage each other about how you feel the relationship is going. To ask how the other is really feeling, to connect at that deeper level. Of course, sometimes there will be harder conversations as we struggle with disconnection, are honest about hurts and open up with our desires. 

Marriage Time is a weekly time and place to discuss these things. Put it in your schedules, open up time for each other and see what happens.

3) Business Time
What does Business Time have to do with your marriage? No, this is not a Flight of the Conchords reference, though that is also an important subject matter.

Setting aside time to look at your schedule and discuss expectations for the upcoming week is very important. This can be a quick meeting (maybe a bit more than just 2 minutes), where you connect with your calendars, clarifying any abnormalities in the upcoming week(s) and ensure you both feel understood about your priorities.

This helps limit negative surprises and builds positive connection. It also saves having to discuss "business" items during marriage time or date night.

It might be good to start with Business Time in order to start setting up the others.

When we put all three of these together, we found that we feel much more connected, moving through our days as friends and lovers, not just as parents to our kids or roommates or worse.

This covenant commitment for life takes intentionality, sharing in all of each other's joys and sorrows, relating at the deepest level.

With all the pressure of life, we shouldn't be surprised that our relationship seems to get hijacked. Yet, with some simple intentional times scheduled into our days, we can take it back.