What IS a meaningful connection in marriage? Great question! Today’s guest, Beth Steffaniak a certified life-coach who blogs over at Messy Marriage has answers. Join us as Beth explains how couples can have meaningful connections.
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.
What IS a Meaningful Connection, Anyway?
by Beth Steffaniak
In these crazy pandemic days, the divorce rate is soaring even though couples and families are spending more time together than ever before. On the surface, this can look deceptively like we’re more connected in marriage. But often these connections feel forced rather than feeling like meaningful connections that encourage true closeness.
Meaningful connections involve intentionality and must be cultivated with clear purposes in mind.
My husband and I struggled to adjust to this closeness in the early days of quarantining under one roof. Before the quarantine, we enjoyed the flow of separating for half the day, then coming back together for shared moments in the second half.
If it weren’t for the meaningful connections we had already built into the fabric of our weekly routines, I’m certain we would not be in such a good place now. We were able to adjust to the forced physical closeness because we are growing relationally closer through meaningful times of connection.
About twenty years ago, we began to build practices and priorities into our weekly and daily habits that helped us to feel a deeper connection with each other. These connections bonded our hearts together, not just our schedules. Establishing these habits did not happen all at once but slowly and gradually built—brick by brick—into something of a shelter over our marriage.
This shelter provides a peaceful connection that we need so that we can weather all types of challenges—including an unforeseen pandemic!
I’d love to share with you what our habits are, as well as giving you some guidance on how to put them into practice in your own life and marriage.
Five Hacks for Making Meaningful Connections in Marriage
1. Devote Time Each Week for Family Fun
We started this effort when our boys were small, referring it as “Family Day.” Our sons loved it and couldn’t wait for Family Day to roll around the next week.
Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun with your family. We found all sorts of free activities to do with our kids like playing at the park, going on picnics, hiking, biking, camping, board-game night, etc. Most of these are viable options during this pandemic.
So, take the opportunity to get outdoors with your family and enjoy the crisp fall air. Once it turns colder, you might want to plan a day of watching movies at home with your kiddos. Make it a real event, complete with popcorn and candy. You might even want to print up some homemade tickets, just like at the movies.
The possibilities here are as far as your imagination and creativity can take you!
2. Make Dating Your Spouse a Priority
When our boys were younger, my husband and I couldn’t always afford to go on weekly dates. Instead, we made sure to plan dates, going out together at least once a month. During the weeks we stayed home, we made the most of our time alone together after our boys had gone bed.
Sometimes we even worked out a date-night swap with another couple. This meant babysitting for our friend’s children, while they went out. Then the next weekend, our friends babysat for us.
And make sure to plan dates that involve activities that both you and your husband enjoy. Otherwise, one of you may not be so excited about that particular date night. You sure don’t want that to be part of the equation!
Instead, take the opportunity to discover and cultivate shared interests on your date night. My husband and I make a point to do the things we love on our dates like hiking, photography, movies and dining out. The pandemic has only impacted one of those for us—movies—shifting our movie night to our home instead.
3. Carve Out Weekly Conversation Times as a Couple
My husband and I carve out 30 to 60 minutes each week on Wednesday evenings for what we’ve come to dub “Talk Time.” We don’t spend this time discussing problems or airing our complaints. This is a time for us to catch up on each other’s lives and to really listen to each other’s feelings.
If you feel like you won’t know what to talk about, we’ve experienced that too! So, my husband and I share our answers to the five questions listed below. I hope they offer you some great conversation starters.
- What was a high in my day?
- What was a low?
- What’s an emotion I felt today? (Avoid sharing negative emotions about your spouse!)
- What do I appreciate or find attractive about you?
- What’s a spiritual or biblical insight I’ve gained recently?
4. Pray Together Daily
Because we want to be spiritually connected as a couple as well, my husband and I hold hands and pray together at the start of our day. Our prayers often consist of just one or two sentences—making it easy for anyone to replicate what we do.
Here’s an example of how we might pray …
Husband: “Father, help us to be kind, respectful and loving spouses to each other.”
Wife: “Help us to grow closer to Christ and one another in our marriage today as well. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
That’s it! Short and sweet but also sincere and from the heart. Don’t let praying together intimidate you. And be sure to insert at the best time for you and your spouse.
This meaningful connection will draw you closer to your spouse than any of these other connection practices. At least, it has for me and my man!
5. Keep Affection Flowing All Day and Week Long
After my husband and I pray in the mornings, we typically seal our prayer with a kiss. We also make a point to sit next to each other in the evenings. Invariably, during that time, one of us will reach out to touch the other’s hand, or we’ll lean in for another kiss. We do these gestures out of an overflow of love but also because we know how much they knit our hearts together.
Not only that, but these meaningful connections can set the stage for meaningful moments of love-making to come. There’s nothing worse than being expected to make love when you haven’t had one meaningful connection with your spouse all day long. But show your spouse a little attention and affection during the day and it will drastically help to put you both in the mood in the evening.
Defy the Statistics
Don’t let your marriage turn into a statistic. Take time to build meaningful connections with your spouse throughout the day, week, month, and year. By doing so, you’ll build a shelter, brick by brick, that will protect your marriage from the wolf of divorce.Check out these five hacks for nurturing meaningful connections in your marriage. #marriage #selfcare Click To Tweet
Beth Steffaniak is a marriage blogger, author, life-coach, pastor’s wife, empty-nester and proud grandma. She blogs at messymarriage.com, where shares openly about the messes she has made in marriage, while also passing along the many lessons learned from those messes to her readers. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.