“I miss you.”
I say these words to my husband far too often these days. Sure, the man gets home from work around 6 every day, watches TV with me for an hour or so most evenings, and sleeps beside me every night, but it’s not enough. Since having our son 18 months ago, our marriage has changed – in good ways, but also in challenging ways – and our quality time has suffered.
There is one other time in our marriage when this has been a problem – and it was right at the very beginning. We didn’t live together until after we were married, and within weeks of saying “I do” I realised that we were going days without connecting properly. Now that we were finally living together, we were both working on the assumption that we would just see each other all the time at home – which, in theory, freed us up to make lots of individual plans with friends and commitments to other people. But we quickly learnt that living together is not enough, and despite the fact that we were seeing each other regularly, we were not focusing enough on connecting regularly. It was our first lesson on marriage, and luckily we caught it quickly enough to change our habits before we did any damage.
Now with a little human in the Donovan family fold, we’ve fallen into the trap of taking each other for granted again. Don’t get me wrong – we’re fine, we’re happy, we’re very much in love – but still, we miss each other. That connection we’ve enjoyed so easily for over eight years now is a little harder to catch thanks to six o’ clock dinners, bedtime routines, teething, tantrums and toys all over the floor. When we flop down on the couch at the end of the day, it’s not often to spend quality time together – it’s to recover!
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you miss your husband as much as I miss mine? Here are some simple ways that may help you to reconnect.
I can go days of building up things that I want to open up about with my husband, but never feel like there’s time to do it. I blame Netflix. Open conversation is so important in marriage though, and shouldn’t be reserved as something that happens once every few days. Go beyond the usual “How was your day?” small talk and delve deeper. Some couples have a set list of probing questions that they ask each other at the end of every day. I find it really beneficial to sit outside in our backyard when I want to have a good conversation with my husband in the evening. Something about the night sky, the lack of distraction and the openness of the space tends to foster our best chats.
Make eye contact
We can let a whole conversation slide by without ever looking someone in the eye these days – whether we’re loading the dishwasher, scrolling through Facebook, getting dressed or wrangling a toddler. Purposefully locking eyes while conversing instantly ups the connection and makes both people feel listened to and valued.
There is something wonderfully bonding about enjoying a laugh with someone – it aligns you for a moment and makes you feel like they just get it. Getting out of the house to enjoy a comedy show might not be the easiest when you’re deep in the throes of parenting, but watching a funny movie at home together (or heck, even dog videos on YouTube) should be equally satisfying.
A lack of physical connection is one of the quickest ways to grow apart from a spouse, so make sure to spend intentional time just holding (and being held by!) each other.
See a counsellor
Though I have not personally gone down the road of marriage counselling before, I have heard many people shouting the praises of a marriage ‘fine-tune’ once in a while, and it makes sense. Sometimes we need help to unpack all of our feelings before we can build our way back to a proper connection. Seeing a marriage counsellor is never a sign of failure – it’s a sign that you care about your marriage, and you want to put measures in place to protect it.
Our roles as parents are super important – but so are our roles as husband and wife! At the end of the day, our kids will grow up and leave home… but our spouses are in it for the long haul. Taking constant care of your relationship will help strengthen it and build a connection that will last for years to come.