Do you and your spouse yearn to grow closer as a couple? Do you wonder how to do it, or just think you’re past the honeymoon stage and you’ll never have a close connection like that ever again?
There is good news! You can grow closer as a couple and have a richer marriage. It is not always easy, but it is possible. And, of course, it is worth the effort!
5 Ways to Grow Closer as a Couple
1. Spend time together.
That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Of course we need to spend time together if we want to grow closer together as a couple.
What matters is not so much THAT we spend time together, but HOW we spend our time together.
How do we spend our time together currently?
Do we watch TV together without talking? Do we read in bed side by side, each with our own books? Are we usually doing two different things while we are in the same room? Do we only see each other in the morning and at night and rarely communicate during the week?
How do we want to spend our time together that can help us to grow closer?
What are things you and your spouse enjoy doing together? Or, what have you enjoyed doing together that you have not done in a while. Make a list. Pick one of the items on the list and plan a day and time to do it. Put it on the calendar so you don’t forget. Make it happen.
Then, schedule another time. Scheduling time to spend together may sound unromantic. However, when we don’t make plans to do important things, we often do not do them. Our marriage relationship is the most important human relationship we have. If scheduling time together ensures that we actually do spend time together, then schedule it.
2. Get to know each other again.
I don’t know about you and your spouse, but when my husband and I first started dating we spent a lot of time together. Whenever we were not at work, at school, or studying, we wanted to talk or be together. We went to Mass together, to the beach, out driving, and talked on the phone for hours. We wanted to know everything we could know about each other, so we made the time to be together and get to know each other.
As humans, we change and grow over time. The man I am married to today is not the same man I married many years ago and I am not the same woman I was. A lot of life has happened in the years since we exchanged our vows! We have grown in new ways together, but also grown in new ways as separate individuals. If I want to know and understand my husband and who he is now, I need to take the time to talk with him. I need to listen and share myself, too. I need to understand that as we change and grow in our lives, we need to take the time to stay connected to each other so we do not drift apart.
So, how can we get to know each other again? There are endless ways! The only limit you have is your imagination. Here are some thoughts you can use to spark your own ideas:
- What did you enjoy doing when you were dating and getting to know each other? Doing some of these familiar and enjoyable activities can help you to focus on each other and reconnect.
- Read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman to help you and your spouse understand each other better. It is a book that will help you to identify how you and your spouse (and your kids) speak love to each other and hear love from each other. Words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time are just three of the languages explored in the book. It is a very helpful resource to have.
- Schedule a regular date night together. You don’t need to go out or spend money. You can send the kids to bed early so you can have the rest of the evening to yourselves or trade babysitting with friends so they can have a date night, too. Have a candlelight dinner or dessert. Play a board game together. Sit in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine. Put on some music and dance. Each of you can come up with a quiz to learn more about the other. Write and read love letters to each other. The key is to spend focused time together. Pick what is meaningful and fun for you. Be creative.
- Go on a walk together and hold hands.
- Turn off the TV in the bedroom if you have one, or remove it. Talk instead. Enjoy spending time together rather than watching TV.
- Dream together. Make plans and set goals together. Then, get out your calendar and plan when you will work on your goals. Don’t just dream together, but take action together!
- Hold hands when you are together, no matter where you are: out running errands, sitting on the couch, or eating dinner.
- Go on a Marriage Encounter Weekend together.
3. Do little things for your spouse.
Sometimes it is the little things that say “I love you” even more than the big things. Think of things you already do that your husband appreciates, things that make him feel loved when you do them. Can you do them more often? Think of things that you used to do for your husband that he appreciated that you haven’t done in a while.
Here are some more ideas:
- Send him a text during the day to say “I love you” or “I am thinking about you.”
- Make his favorite meal when it is not a special occasion.
- Do a chore that he usually does so he does not have to do it.
- Wear that outfit that he usually complements you on when you wear it.
- Put a note in his lunch or in his luggage if he travels.
What little thing may make his life easier today? What do you know he will appreciate? Is there something you can do that you know will make him smile? These little things are all ways to say I love you.
4. Listen. Really listen.
I want my husband to listen to me when I am talking to him, so I, in turn, need to listen to him when he is talking to me. When I give him my full attention, he knows I care. He is more likely to share with me his true thoughts, not just superficial things. We can also have a better conversation when I am not distracted.
Stop what you are doing (unless it is changing a diaper on a squirmy toddler) and look your husband in the eye when he is talking to you. Make sure he knows he has your full attention.
This can be challenging to do sometimes. When I am cooking dinner or working with one of our kids on schoolwork and my husband wants to talk to me, I can stop what I am doing to talk if it will be brief or I can ask him if we can talk at a specific time (ie. in 15 minutes) when I finish what I am doing so I can give him my full attention.
When you are talking without distraction, keep it that way. Don’t check your phone, look at the computer, a book or turn on the TV. Keep your focus on him as you want for him to keep his focus on you.
5. Be joyful.
Yes! Be joyful and happy. People are more attracted to joyful people than to unhappy people.
Are you always complaining? Do you nag at your husband often (whether or not you have good reason to do so)? Do you give him the cold shoulder when he upsets you, yet he has no idea why you are upset because you have not told him? When he calls or comes home and asks about your day, is the first thing you say negative? And the second thing negative? And the third thing negative?
Greet him with a smile and a kiss when he comes home from work. Tell him something positive or funny that happened during your day. I am not saying to be fake or to pretend. Be authentic, but make the effort to start with the positive first.
Being joyful has (at least) three benefits:
- It decreases tension in our home and between my husband and I. When I start listing all the difficulties and complaints of my day when my husband has barely set foot in the door, he is on his guard. He wonders what to say or not to say to me out of fear of frustrating me more. This creates an emotional distance between us.
- To be joyful, I need to look at the positive instead of the negative. When I focus on positive things, I am more naturally greatful and joyful than when I focus on the negative and frustrating aspects of my day or of myself. When I chose to be joyful in my words and thoughts, I tend to feel joyful in my heart.
- Our kids learn by example. I want them to learn to be joyful, not learn to complain!
Time for action.
Think of ways that you can spend more time with your spouse, just having fun and enjoying being together. Get to know each other better. Do little things for your spouse that you know will bring a smile to his face. Make the time to truly listen when he talks to you. Look him in the eye and give him your full attention. Make the effort to be joyful. This not only helps you, but it has a positive effect on your husband, your kids, and the overall atmosphere in your home. Pick one idea to start with.
What do you want to do today so you and your husband can work to grow closer as a couple?