Looking for marital satisfaction? Despite being married, many couples don’t feel satisfied. Why? A lack of connection. Guest writer Jed Jerchenko shares tips for taking care of your most important relationship.
This month we’ll focus on goal-setting for marital relationships. Movies and romance books make it seem like all a couple has to do is get on the same horse and ride off into the sunset. They gloss over all the hard work involved in maintaining a marriage. And what we fail to face with intentionality, we fail to do. Part of healthy self-care involves taking care of our most important relationships.
Marital satisfaction matters! In every good fairy tale, couples fall in love, ride into the sunset, and live happily ever after. However, in real life, many couples get stuck between saying “I do” on their wedding day and finding marital bliss. One of my favorite college professors used to say, “The loneliest people in America are not single adults. They are the married couples, who fall asleep, back to back, silently wondering When will the pain end?“
The good news is that couples don’t have to stay stuck. The path to marital satisfaction is simple—although it may not be easy. So how do couples find marital satisfaction fast? If there is one secret, the word connection sums it up nicely. I believe a joyful bond unlocks marital satisfaction based on three things, my personal experience, research, and Scripture. Keep reading, and see if you agree.
Our Marital Satisfaction Story
I met my amazing wife, Jenny, over a decade ago. We connected through an online dating site and met at a tiny pizzeria with a breathtaking view of San Diego Bay. After dinner, I asked Jenny if she wanted to go for a walk. Jenny said, “Yes,” and my heart leaped.
There was just one problem. After the sun went down, the air cooled quickly. Although I wanted to spend more time with Jenny, I also didn’t want her to freeze on our first date. Three times I asked Jenny if she wanted to turn back. Each time, she sweetly replied, “No, I’m fine. Let’s keep walking.”
Now, I should mention that Jenny had goosebumps running up and down her arms. She was also shivering and may have been turning blue. Yet, she continued walking anyway. After our date, I couldn’t stop thinking about this amazing woman who wanted to be with me more than she wanted to warm up.
Fast forward a decade. Jenny and I still love spending time together. Whether it’s walking, relaxing at a bonfire, or simply talking about the day, these little moments together make a big difference!
This is why I believe connection is the key to marital satisfaction. And science confirms this hunch!
Marital Satisfaction and Science
Relationship researcher John Gottman spent hundreds of hours watching couples interact in his Love Lab. This quaint space looks much like an apartment. There’s just one catch. Strategically placed cameras allow John and his team to painstakingly code every word, gesture, and facial expression couples make.
After observing 130 couples, John can now predict with an astounding 96 percent accuracy which relationships will succeed and which will fail after just five minutes. He also created a simple formula for predicting relationship success. The algorithm is five to one. Yes, it’s that simple!
Happy, stable couples have five positive interactions for every negative one. Scientific research has confirmed what newly dating couples already know. Relationship satisfaction comes from a steady stream of positive interactions.
God-Designed to Connect
Although I’m a huge fan of Gottman’s work, God said it first. The link between marital satisfaction and a steady bond is both implied and outright stated in Scripture. Human connection is more than a nicety. It’s a genuine need. Close, connected relationships are so important they are on par with oxygen, water, and food.
In Genesis 2, God breathes into Adam’s nostrils, supplying him with lifegiving oxygen. Next, He places Adam in a garden with rivers for water and trees for food. Then, God creates Eve. Why? Because God designed us to connect. Of course, this passage only implies our need for human interaction. However, I think God’s order of providing Adam with oxygen, water, food, and then companionship is a pretty strong implication.
Just in case the value of connection is missed, this human need is then stated plainly. In Genesis 2:24 the Bible says, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” God’s ideal for couples is a connection so strong it results in marital oneness. Our creator knows that couples function best when they are united. This is why I have no doubt that marital satisfaction comes from a closely connected bond.
How to Find Marital Satisfaction Fast
So how can couples find marital satisfaction now? Marital satisfaction is the result of a steady stream of positive moments. Start by taking care of yourself. Practicing healthy self-care will boost your attitude, which can have an immediate positive impact on your bond. Attitudes are contagious, and we can’t impart to others something we don’t possess ourselves.
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Once you are energized, try boosting your marriage satisfaction with one of these connection ideas.
- Cook a meal together.
- Go on an impromptu coffee date.
- Read a couple’s devotional.
- Talk through a conversation starters book.
- Watch a movie and snuggle close.
- Walk hand-in-hand.
- Play a favorite board game.
- Simply enjoy one another’s presence.
The best way to stay in love is to keep doing the things that caused you to fall in love in the first place. So, what brought you and your spouse together? Make a list and go back to doing that. Connecting to your spouse is not rocket science. Based on my personal experience, research, and Scripture, it’s the best way to find marital satisfaction now.
However, it’s also important to know that while the answer to marital satisfaction is simple, reigniting a lost connection is not always easy. Couples with gaping relationship wounds may have a difficult time returning to their once joyful bond. According to an article in psychology today, only 25 percent of divorcing couples seek professional help. Even more shocking is that the average couple waits 6 years. The moral of this story is, don’t be that couple!
If you are disconnected from your loved one, now is an excellent time to reconnect. Start by courageously reaching for your spouse, not once, but multiple times. Remember, reaching is a win regardless of how your loved one responds. If this doesn’t work, then it may be to seek additional support. Find a pastor, counselor, or coach who can guide you on the journey. This is important because God’s design is for you and your loved one to connect!
Today’s Guest Writer
Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He’s served as a children’s pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, and doing life well. In his free time, you’ll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed’s books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com. You can connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.