Our children accuse me and my husband of being inappropriate. They roll their eyes, make gagging noises and, if we’re really successful in grossing them out, they leave the room. (Usually that’s our goal! Whether we want to talk, watch a movie, trade back rubs, do a devotional or be intimate, sometimes we just want to be alone.)
Several years ago, our kids regularly left the room for different reasons. Evenings, weekends and holidays were stressful. Chris and I couldn’t be in the same room together without one of us committing a slight against the other or simply getting on the other one’s nerves. My husband’s bed was the couch and if he happened to wander into the bedroom, I’d sleep on the couch. Things weren’t always that way, but we didn’t know how to fix the problems that had led to our dissatisfaction with one another.
These days, Chris and I have an intense desire for each other. If you’ve been looking at your spouse lately and wondering how you simply became roommates who sometimes have sex, don’t despair. Rekindling the romance might not be as difficult as you think, but it will take some effort, particularly when it comes to replacing bad habits with positive habits that encourage growth in the relationship. Try the following suggestions and let me know how they work out for you! (We don’t need details, but you’re welcome to share your joy with a renewed relationship.)
Take your spouse to bed.
After several years of sleeping separately and allowing our relationship to disintegrate emotionally, spiritually and physically, when we finally decided to see if we could repair the damage, one of the first changes we made was to establish a bedtime for our children. Although they had bedtimes when they were very young, this was something we hadn’t enforced in many years. It became our habit to allow them to stay up until 11:00 p.m. or later, usually in the same room with us watching television or hanging out. (As with many homeschoolers, our bedtimes weren’t firmly established. Unfortunately, I see this trend happening in many homeschool households and it is harming marriages.) Anyway, at some point my husband began sleeping on the couch and I sometimes wonder if part of the reason was just to get everyone to go to bed – since he had to get up early to go to work. Of course it didn’t help that the bed wasn’t an inviting place.
In our personal situation, sex was difficult for me for many years following the birth of our last child. I developed serious health issues and one of the side effects was severe pain in my legs and pelvic area (made much worse with intercourse). I desperately wanted to be with my husband, but the pain made it impossible. While that is a valid excuse, the fact is that I chose not only to avoid sexual contact, but also physical contact. If you get nothing else out of this article, I hope you’ll come away with this. Your husband wants to feel loved as much as you do and for men, physical contact is a large part of that. Without going into too much detail, physical contact can result in sexual satisfaction so that true intimacy offered only through the marital relationship can be fully realized. Even if all you do is spend time cuddling, this time alone together is what separates your marriage relationship from every other relationship.
Address any unresolved issues.
When Chris and I first began trying to establish new, healthy habits that would help us renew our relationship, I tried unsuccessfully to “forgive and forget” something that had become one of the biggest wedges in our relationship. Several years earlier, Chris had made a major decision, without my approval, that altered our lives. I realize why he made the decision, but it hurt me beyond comprehension that he would make such a huge decision that affected us both based on discussions with others rather than me. For a long time, I tried to “get over it,” but it was a festering wound that never healed. Finally, I shared my frustration and disappointment with him. While this didn’t resolve the issue, Chris was willing to listen to my point of view and recognize the pain he had caused. A year later – at great cost to us financially – we reversed the decision he had made without my approval and it was another turning point in our marriage. We began to see how God was healing our hearts and our marriage.
If there are unresolved issues in your marriage, you need to address these. Don’t accuse your spouse, but present your grievances with a plan on how to make the situation better. If you bring up an issue, make sure you have an idea on how it could be made better. Be willing to hear his or her side of events as well as your spouse’s ideas for resolution. If things become heated, set a future time to come back together to discuss the situation calmly. Once you’ve addressed the issues and made arrangements (when possible) for resolution, then move on. Don’t keep bringing up the past. If you still feel the need to do so, then you have not truly addressed the issue and certainly it hasn’t been resolved.
Keep your eyes on each other.
As we grow older and fatter, as gray hairs appear and love handles grow larger, it can be tempting to focus on what is “wrong” with our bodies. Even for those who seem to have avoided the physical ravages of age, in our society we tend to seek affirmation regarding our bodies from the time we’re little tots until we’re enjoying our last days. You want people to say you look nice, notice that you had a haircut or ask if you’ve lost weight. Most of us would like to hear those same comments from our spouse and when he (or she) doesn’t meet our expectations, we are tempted to seek praise from other sources (throwing ourselves into our career, devoting all time and energy to our children, accepting the advances of another person, etc.).
One way to keep your eyes on each other is to create a habit of noticing one another. Tell your husband he smells nice, he’s handsome, he works hard, he’s a great dad, etc…. Tell your wife how you admire her, how she’s a great mom, how you like the feel of her hands, her hips, her lips, her… You get the idea!
Above all else, don’t get into situations where you’re tempted to turn your focus elsewhere. Live above reproach so that your spouse trusts you. Let your spouse know that he (or she) is the most important person in your life.
Avoid airing problems on social media.
This is self explanatory, but it will help your marriage if you follow one simple rule regarding your spouse and social media: Only mention your husband (or wife) on social media if you’re giving him (or her) a compliment or shouting to the world how in love you are. Go back to kindergarten rules in this area. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!!
Make a commitment to renew your marriage.
Finally, do whatever it takes to renew your relationship with your spouse. Regardless of our society’s current disregard for the sanctity of marriage (and of life in general), the institution of marriage is of God. The blessings of marriage are eternal. God created man and woman to be together as one in the marital relationship and this fellowship is unlike any other that exists.
Date your spouse. Look at old photographs. Listen to love songs you enjoyed as a young couple. Watch movies together. Take a walk. Hold hands, for goodness sakes! Sneak a kiss in public. Above all, pray and be patient. Some wounds can take longer than others to heal, but God is the great healer.
Finally, expect great things. Watch for the romance to blossom anew. Prepare to be surprised. You might just discover new ways to clear a room and look forward to those precious moments when you and your spouse can be alone.