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I think we can all agree it has been a RIDE figuring out marriage and motherhood during a pandemic.
At the beginning of 2021, my husband and I realized we needed to take some steps to make our marriage more healthy. There were things we had just swept under the rug or ignored. And we had honestly just gone into coasting mode.
Trying to survive a pandemic with a toddler is difficult. And even before this, we had gotten so busy we were more like good roommates. We needed to breathe new life into our marriage. So we sat down and talked about things that needed to change.
These 5 changes have made a difference in our marriage and the way we connect.
They were born out of stress, a struggling marriage, and a pandemic. But I think they’re here to stay.
Decreasing Our Obligations
When things shut down, my husband and I became aware of just how BUSY we had become. We had a lot of leadership in our church. Add on friends, family, work, and a toddler . . . I don’t know how we did it all.
So the first thing we did was step back from some responsibilities.
We limited the ways we were serving in our church. We chose one or two areas we felt passionate about. Then we bowed out of the others. I also started saying “no.” I often jump to saying yes to things when people want me to take charge or help. But I had to stop that.
As someone who thrives on being busy and feeling needed, I know this can be hard. But we couldn’t do it all and maintain a healthy marriage. We needed to make space for each other in our life.
We all know communication is essential for a marriage to work. But how do we do that well?
One thing that has been helpful for our marriage is our weekly check-in.
On Sunday night my husband and I sit down and kind of “debrief.” We share how we’ve been feeling the past week and anything we’re anxious about for the one ahead.
A big part of this is asking questions and really listening to understand each other. Sometimes we ask how we can help each other in those areas where we feel overwhelmed. Then we pray for each other.
I have also had to learn how to communicate what I need. One example is cleaning. I was feeling stressed and felt like I didn’t have enough time to get it done. A few months ago I would’ve just stewed about it or tried to fix it myself.
But that wasn’t healthy. So I told my husband I needed more help.
And if something needs to be done and I need help, I let him know instead of wishing he would “just know.” This has been a HUGE help to me.
I cannot stress enough how helpful marriage counseling has been. Finding a licensed therapist who can help you both navigate difficult or emotional conversations is essential.
I know some people can be resistant to therapy. My husband sure had been! So when he agreed, I knew that he really felt like our marriage could be in trouble if we didn’t deal with things.
Don’t be afraid to get a licensed marriage counselor.
It’s been life-changing. It has given us tools to communicate better, improve what needs work in our marriage, and love each other better.
There is absolutely NO SHAME in seeking outside help. Ask around for recommendations. Or make some appointments to find someone you both feel comfortable with.
Set (and Simple) Date Nights
I hesitate to call it that because that sounds too organized and time-consuming for what we do. We did bigger date nights before. But they were often reactive rather than proactive. They would happen because we felt disconnected.
Now we have a super simple “date night” once a week.
Each Wednesday we take time to connect. After our daughter goes to bed, we make time to do something together.
We keep this simple. Sometimes it’s a puzzle or playing a video game. Other nights it might be watching a movie together with popcorn. But we have a rule that we don’t talk about difficult things.
It’s just a time to ENJOY our marriage.
There’s real value in taking time to enjoy being with your spouse. That laughter and joy help restore your connection.
If you feel like you don’t have time, I’d challenge you to go back to my first point about decreasing your obligations. It doesn’t have to be once a week like we do. But if even once a month seems too much, maybe something needs to give.
Let me start by saying that if there is physical abuse, feelings of betrayal from an affair, or something else affecting your marriage it is 100% understandable if this is a step you don’t feel comfortable with right now.
If that’s the case seek help. Find a counselor or therapist to help you process those feelings that are preventing intimacy. Get out of that situation of abuse with help from organizations that specialize in trauma care. Marriage should be a place where you feel safe being intimate with your partner.
I truly believe physical connection is something that can help heal and restore a marriage.
There are two ways I’ve seen this play out in my own marriage. One has been increased physical contact throughout the day. This can come in the form of a kiss, hug, or even just holding hands.
As we talked through everything, my husband realized he had always thought he was just less affectionate than me. But it turned out there were some things that prevented him from that connection that we both actually needed. Even increases in that small level of intimacy help us feel closer.
The second has been having sex more often. When you’re exhausted after spending the day at work or with a toddler, sex can sometimes be something you don’t want to do. Or it can be difficult to connect during sex if your marriage is struggling.
Sex is GOOD. Increasing how often we have sex has really been helpful. That deeper level of intimacy and connection is needed.
Whether it’s scheduling it in, mixing things up a bit, or seeking the help of a counselor to work through any emotional blocks, reviving your sex life is a great way to help your marriage.
If you’ve come this far, hopefully you’ve found at least one way to breathe life back into your marriage.
Marriage takes work.
But when we feel that connection and love, it is completely worth it! Sometimes we just need to step back and see where we need to make a change or set habits that help us improve and maintain our connection.