You spent more time with your spouse this past year than ever before. You may love each other but let's face it spending 24 hours a day together may have wreaked havoc on your marriage. Pandemic stress, the pressures of working from home, school closures, and isolation may have impacted your relationship. Being in the same space as your spouse for all this time may have caused you to lash out with one another or have caused you to say things you highly regret. Boundaries may have been crossed while finding ways to live and even parent your children. Tension is most likely running high. Spending day after day in the same house can even make devoted couples stir crazy.
CAN YOU RELATE TO KRISTEN AND TOMMY?
Kristen and Tommy have been working from home since the pandemic started. Recently, Kristen and Tommy both got their vaccines and are eager to get back to normalcy. Both of them are feeling more comfortable about socializing and getting back to their old lives. Kristen's work is slowly having her transition into the office. Their children are starting to go back into school on a full-time basis. However; their relationship has not been "normal" at all. Tommy and Kristen's marriage has been rocky over the past several months. Lines have been crossed and arguments have happened. Kristen felt like they were always in each other's space. Kristen feels that Tommy blames her for everything. Tommy feels like the household chores are falling on him and Kristen feels like she is the only one taking care of the kids. This has caused a huge disconnect in their marriage.
Kristen finds herself reminiscing about how their marriage used to be. Things felt like they used to run a lot smoother. Tommy and Kristen used to enjoy their alone time with each other and now it seems like they cannot stand each other. Tommy and Kristen feel that they need to reconnect with one another as they begin to transition back to the way their lives were before.
IT'S TIME TO RECONNECT WITH YOUR SPOUSE
During the pandemic, there was so much chaos going on and your marital relationship was very likely put on the back burner just like Kristen and Michael's. Fortunately, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel as more people are getting vaccinated. You may notice that people are feeling more comfortable going out and socializing. More kids are attending school in person and people are even headed back to the work office. Woohoo!
This is a great time to start prioritizing your marriage and reconnect with each other. You're probably wondering how you can do this among the already long list of things you have going on. But it doesn't have to be that complicated. Below are 12 impactful ways to build that connection. Some are more simple than others. Choose what is best for your marriage. You don't have to do them all! Remember, less is more.
Plan a date night with each other. This can help rebuild romantic feelings you may have lost along the way. If you both are feeling comfortable, you can also plan a dinner out with other couples. Socializing and communicating with other couples may help you see that you are not alone dealing with life stressors.
Have you have lost a sexual connection with your spouse? Being sexually intimate with your spouse is important in order to maintain romance and bond with each other.
When was the last time you grabbed your spouse and gave them a kiss or a hug for no reason? Sat next to each other on the couch and cuddled? Held hands when you took a walk? Physical affection is a form of foreplay that may or may not lead to a sexual connection. Either way, it builds fondness and admiration for one another
HELLO AND GOODBYE
How do you greet each other? Do you kiss each other hello and goodbye? Do you say good morning or good night? Say please and thank you? Being mindful of your manners shows each other respect.
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Show each other appreciation. Tell your partner how much you appreciate the value they bring to the relationship and to your family. Thank each other not just for the big material things like a Chanel bag or a set of new golf clubs. When was the last time you thanked your spouse for making dinner, doing the laundry, picking up the kids? These are mundane daily chores that may not be so mundane if you feel appreciated and not taken for granted.
GO DOWN MEMORY LANE
Reminisce about old times with your spouse. Sometimes we tend to lose sight of things. Sit down with your spouse and reminisce about when you guys got together. Take out some of those old photo albums and take a walk down memory lane. When did you guys fall in love? Where was your first date? If you have a video of your wedding, dust it off and watch it!
Surprise your partner with a romantic love note on their pillow, in their purse, pants pocket, bathroom mirror! You might just get lucky that night... lol!
TEXT EACH OTHER
I'm sure many of you just text each other things like: Can you bring home milk? What's for dinner? What time will you be home? Although necessary, these are not the texts I'm talking about. I'm talking about flirty, complimentary or sexy texts such as "You looked so hot in that dress last night", or something as simple as" I miss you "or "I love you"!
What is your love language? What is your partner's? Many times they are different but it's perfectly OK if you are willing to learn and speak each other's language. I suggest reading "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman to find out more.
Are you and your partner like two ships that pass in the night? Your household may get crazy busy but it's so important to find time to communicate with your partner. Find at least 15 minutes a day to talk to each other about your day and whatever else is in your heart and mind. Spending quality time catching up with each other even if it's just for 15 minutes can help you feel closer and more connected.
COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER
When was the last time you told your wife she was beautiful? Told your husband he was handsome? Compliments can go a long way. It doesn't have to be about each other's physical appearance either. Did you enjoy your wife's shrimp scampi the other night? Compliment her on what a wonderful cook she is. Did you admire the way your husband mediated an argument between your kids? Tell him!
CREATE SHARED EXPERIENCES
Take up something you have never done before with your spouse. Plan a hiking trip once a month. Work out with each other at the gym or at home. Make dinner together once a week. Take a cooking class together or sign up for dance lessons. Finding interests that you both enjoy can help nurture your relationship and it's more fun when you don't have to do it alone.
Remember, there is hope in reconnecting with your spouse and getting life back on track. If you and your spouse are struggling to reconnect we are always here to help.
Risa Simpson-Davis, LCSW