by Jeff Cortez
During these unprecedented times of “self-quarantine” are you feeling isolated? anxious? disconnected to your spouse? Well…you are not alone. With everyone home in “locked-down” mode many married couples are facing relationship challenges…feeling a little edgy and perhaps arguing a little more, being less patient with each other or just lacking intimacy…connection. If you can relate, then keep reading….there is hope.
When stress enters our lives we have two ways we can respond to the stimulus, we can either allow our minds to accelerate the problem and dwell on the worst case scenario or we can choose to shift our mindset and focus on what is good, positive, and praiseworthy. As a Christian, I like to turn to scripture for guidance on how best to deal with the challenges of life because I believe that the Holy Bible has all the answers to life. Take a look at Philippians 4:8, it reads “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
In this post I would like to share with you 4 ways to reconnect with your spouse and reignite your love. In many cases couples feel disconnected because there is simply a lack of emotional connection, but the good news is that we all have the ability to change that if we really want to. I encourage you to try these 4 ways of reconnecting and make a commitment for the sake of your relationship to embrace them as new habits.
1. Increase the Quantity and Quality of Communication
2. Do Activities Together As a Couple
3. Have a Vision for Your Marriage and Set Goals Together
4. Pray Together and For Each Other
A contributing factor that leads to married couples feeling disconnected is a lack of communication. I would be willing to bet that if you looked back at your relationship in the early stages (e.g. dating, engaged, just married) your level of communication (quantity and quality) was a 10 on a scale of 1-10. Do you remember the emotional state of your early relationship? Embrace that memory for a second and hold on to that feeling….do you want to feel that connection again? Of course, you do, we all desire that. Well… I am here to tell you that if you make a decision today that you will do everything you can to do your part, and strive to increase your level of communication to a 10, you will certainly reconnect and reignite your love for each other!!
Let me share with you a simple but powerful tool to help you reconnect on a deeper emotional level. My wife and I learned this effective communication tool on a Catholic marriage enrichment weekend – Worldwide Marriage Encounter (www.wwme.org). The tool is called “Dialogue”, it’s simple and anyone can do it. Here’s how it works:
1. One spouse proposes a topic they want to talk about (e.g. communication, finances, in-laws, kids, career, etc.).
2. One spouse (does not need to be the same person who proposed the topic) comes up with a “dialogue question” that both husband and wife agree to talk about (e.g. As a result of the recent pandemic, our son may not be able to have his high school graduation ceremony, how do I feel about that?)
3. The husband and wife will write a short letter to each other in response to the chosen dialogue question. The love letter is written for 10 minutes maximum with 20% of the letter focused on ideas/thoughts and 80% focused on the feeling the writer is experiencing relative to the question. Key point here to remember is to keep it to 10 minutes and to focus on the “feeling”.
4. After the letter is written, husband and wife will exchange their love letter and “dialogue” for a maximum of 10 minutes. The goal here is to focus on dialoging on the strongest feeling of the two – husband or wife (e.g. if the wife has the strongest feeling on a scale of 1-10, you dialogue on the wife’s feeling) with the aim to understand your spouse’s feelings. Key point to remember here is to keep it to 10 minutes maximum and no problem solving, judgment or downplaying of your spouse’s feelings. You want this to be a “No Judgment Zone” otherwise it will not be safe to share and be authentic.
My wife and I have been practicing this technique for many years ever since we learned about it and I can tell you that if done correctly and consistently, your relationship will bear much fruit. This simple tool and habit will take your marriage to the next level and increase your intimacy in a deep and profound way beyond your imagination!!
Another way to reconnect with your spouse is to be intentional about the way you spend time together. We all are given 24 hours a day and it’s up to us on how we use it…will we make the most of it? or let it go to waste? Time is a commodity, make the most of it while we have it and give time to your spouse as a gift!
Make time to identify activities that you like to do as a couple that helps you feel connected to your spouse, whether it be going for a walk, working on a home project, or engaging in outdoor activities like biking, create a list and commit to making it a priority in your life. It may seem trivial but often times it’s the small simple things in life that mean the most to us and pay long-term dividends. There is something special about looking forward to something that you both enjoy doing and then following through on it as a commitment to one another…it raises your hearts and connects you emotionally.
Whenever we embark on a journey with a goal to succeed, we must begin with a vision, because the vision points you to where you want to go and it will fuel the journey…marriage is no different. Habakkuk 2:2-3 says “Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”
What an inspiring message of hope for married couples! No matter how challenging it gets…keep your vision before you and DO NOT give up! Keep at it…it will surely come! I firmly believe that married couples MUST come up with a vision together and remind each other of that vision. When couples have a common purpose or goal that is bigger than themselves and believe in their hearts that it’s possible for them…they will stop at nothing to make it a reality!! That sense of mission is exciting, it’s personal, it’s YOURS! If you create that vision for your marriage, set goals together and work towards achieving that desired state…it will cement your relationship!!
There is no doubt that marriage can be very challenging, psychologically and emotionally. Tragically about 50% of marriages in the United Sates end in divorce…..it doesn’t have to end that way. As Christians, we have to remind ourselves that we are people of faith and hope, we are not alone on this journey. The Catechism of The Catholic Church, paragraph 1641 and 1642, states that Christian married couples receive their own special gifts (grace) with the intention to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity, and that Christ is the source of that grace.
Christian married couples should tap into this special grace through prayer. Inviting Christ into your marriage through prayer will enable you to allow God’s special grace to work through you so that you may love your spouse with God’s supernatural love and transform your marriage!
The Sacrament of Marriage is a fire of love, if you wish to set it ablaze, then consider implementing the 4 ways to reconnect with your spouse. To recap; increase the quality of your communication, make it a priority to do activities together as a couple, create a vision for your marriage and work together towards it, and invite Christ into your marriage through prayer. If you put these practices in place you will reconnect and reignite your love!!