How well couples are connecting is one of the things I will gauge in our sessions:
- Do they greet their mate when they come in the door, seeking them out to give them a kiss and ask about their day?
- Do they kiss goodbye when they are leaving and let their mate know where they are going?
- Is a phone call made during the day to inquire how their day is going?
- Do they have regular date nights and dress up now and then?
- Do they celebrate special occasions or days for just the two of them?
- Are both of them fully present to each other?
What I frequently find are too many disconnections and one or both taking the other person for granted. When there are more disconnects than connects, I know we have a marriage on the brink of a crisis – or in one already. Here are some tips for connecting
and keeping your marriage strong and healthy:
- Pray with each other daily and ask God to protect the marriage from outside interference.
- Pray for your mate. (see my book suggestions)
- Set aside anywhere from ten to twenty minutes daily to communicate eye to eye with no distractions.
- Read scripture together and daily devotions. (see my book suggestions)
- Attend church together and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen the marriage.
- Set goals for your marriage – one, five and ten year goals.
- Plan a get-away for just the two of you.
- Call your spouse during the day when they are away and ask how their day is going.
- Make all big decisions together and never come home with a purchase over $100 without discussing it first.
- Get out of your comfort zone and do something with your spouse that they enjoy.
- If the climate of the home is tense, angry, and serious, do all you can to turn it into a place of peace, laughter and joy.
- Attend marriage conferences and workshops.
- Keep your mate as your best friend and confidante.
- Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of solving them.
- Keep a gratitude journal of blessings from your spouse or special moments together.
- Collect pictures of the family and places you have been and work on this together.
- Set specific money goals with timelines and details.
- Make a lengthy list of what you need from your mate. (I need him/her to cuddle with me, I need him/her to join me for walks, etc.)
This list is only a beginning of what I do when I work with couples, but enough to get you started immediately. One client who recognized his disconnection from his wife and children said “Wow, this is a lot of changing.” I then asked him if he was a man after God’s heart and a leader in his marriage and would he be willing to do the work. He replied “Things aren’t so great now and they were when we first married, so I have a lot of weeds to pull and time to invest!”
Keeping your love strong and thriving requires time and effort, but the health benefits are unbelievable. As I often remind my clients, physical health is directly related to mental health. Take care of each other, nurture the marriage and there will be fewer doctor appointments and ailments. Each of my medical professional colleagues say they wish every counselor would emphasize this fact. Tend your garden and flowers with loving care… and give the same effort – if not more – to your marriage. Live daily by the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). Make the Prayer of St. Francis your mission statement for your marriage:
“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
God’s peace and blessings! – Dr. Sherry Baker