Do you remember what it was like when you first got together? You had so much time for each other to have fun, laugh and relax. So how did it all change? You are still together, but your lives have expanded. Your relationship might include kids, careers, life demands, goals and dreams, and your time together is short and brief. Do you wonder what you can do to feel close and connected again?
Remember when you first met and started dating? You dropped everything to see the one your heart loved and desired. You turned down social events to stay in and watch a movie with your partner. You spent way too much money on eating out and dinner dates because you just wanted another night to see each other. You found yourself constantly thinking about them when you were not with them. You may even remember talking to each other for hours on the phone and staying up late until one of you fell asleep while the other was still talking. (I was the one who fell asleep!) And even though you fell asleep on the phone to them, they were the first person you called to say good morning? Being in love was bliss and felt effortless! And if you were honest with yourself, also time-consuming!
Fast forward a few years or even a decade…you got married, had a kid or a few, developed your careers, became successful and kicked some life goals. Now you open up your calendar diary, and it's filled with work deadlines, home demands and children consuming your attention, taxi service and your personal assistance.
You are doing life together, but sometimes it can feel like you are roommates or a parenting team.
The time you have for each other seems limited, and when your head touches the pillow, you feel too exhausted to even roll over and kiss your beloved good night. If your work schedules are different, one might go to bed early and wake up early, and the other might go to bed late and wake up late. You feel like ships passing in the night, and you can go days without having the time to sit down and chat and ask each other, 'how are you?'.
In the few and far between fleeting moments when you take a breather, you may ask yourself, 'how did we get here?' or your heart might wonder, 'how do we build our intimacy and close connection again when we are so time-poor?'.
Here are 5 ways you can intentionally connect with each other during your day:
1. Write sweet notes to each other.
It doesn't need to take a lot of your time, and it definitely doesn't need to be an extended essay. It can be leaving a sweet note on their pillow or writing a short encouragement like 'im thinking of you or 'I believe in you' on a post-it note and sticking it on the bathroom mirror or next to the coffee machine.
It could be sending a text or a voice message letting your partner know you love them, you think they are beautiful or handsome, or it could be allowing them into your inner world and sharing your thoughts and what is on your mind.
Short notes that are loving, complimentary and encouraging communicate the message to your spouse that you are thinking of them. You don't take them for granted; you appreciate having them in your life.
2. Find out what their current favourite things are and surprise them.
When we are dating, we put so much time into getting to know what our partner loves. We ask intentional questions about the simple things to know them more, like what's your favourite colour, favourite chocolate bar, birthday cake, favourite holiday destination?
As we grow, the things we love and our preferences change. Do you know what your spouse currently loves? Do you know the item of clothing they have their eye on? A movie they want to see? A book or author they like reading? Their current favourite food? The way they love to de-stress? Their favourite thing to do on a date?
Create a list of questions to find out about each other, and find some time to ask each other. This can help both of you learn what each other loves now and gives you both the opportunity to do simple things to surprise each other, like intentionally buying the ice cream flavour they love next time you are going grocery shopping or going to their favourite place next time you are planning a date. It's often the little simple things that we do that can show our spouse that they are special to us.
3. Schedule uninterrupted time together.
Excuses, excuses, excuses! It's so easy to find reasons why we don't have time for it. The truth is we make time for the things that we prioritise. You turn up to work, or that critical meeting, or that school appointment for your kids because you have made it a priority. Is your relationship a priority? Often it requires a mindset shift and then putting it into action.
Schedule a date night at least once a week or fortnight (it doesn't have to be going out, you can be creative at home). Make a plan for it, put the kids to bed early or set your alarm to get up a little earlier to have a breakfast coffee date in the living room or outside on the balcony. It doesn't have to be hours long; it can be 15mins a day if that's all you have.
The key is to make it an uninterrupted time where the phone is put away, the tv is off, and the distractions are minimised.
4. Pray for each other.
We can pray for ourselves, other people, situations in the world and our pressing family needs, but our partner for life can also benefit from our prayers. Ask your spouse what things they would like prayer for? Or grab each other's hands in the morning or evening before you part ways for the day or go to sleep and pray for each other.
Prayer doesn't have to be long-winded. It can be as short as a minute. Your prayers can unite you two together spiritually and bring God into your relationship.
A wonderful way to feel supported by your partner is to hear their heart for you being poured out to God in prayer.
5. Prioritise physical affection.
Instead of giving a quick kiss when you say 'Hi and Goodbye', try a 6-second kiss. Yes, that's right, hold that kiss for 6 seconds. Pull out the timer if you really need to.
When giving each other a hug, don't be quick to let go as soon as you touch. Hold each other in your arms for at least 30 seconds and take a deep breath and lean into the hug. Enjoy the feeling of being held by the person you love. Allow the tension or stress of the day to be released as you rest in the hug.
Make sure physical affection is not only when you are sexually intimate.
Create times when affection is agenda-free. Hold hands, rest your hand on their leg when you are watching tv, give each other a hand or shoulder massage, or dance with each other. Touch each other with affection, tenderness and love.
Life does get busy, and it can be stressful, but continue talking and working together on how to be intentional with building your connection. Your relationship matters too.