The primary thing that seems to be cropping up in marriages recently has been the number of issues men have had with being emotionally shut down and unable to meaningfully connect with their spouse on a continuous basis. Usually this simply boils down to conversation, conversation that goes far beyond what do we need to accomplish to get through the day, or the week. To that end I have a suggestion to kick-start that for you and your spouse.
I would like to suggest a weekend get-away for the two of you.
Find a cabin in a park somewhere, by a lake or a river (stream) with walking trails. You may choose to dine at local restaurants, and take in a few shops, but don’t let it exceed three hours each day. This is a time to intentionally re-connect with each other’s heart. Leave your phones behind, or locked in the trunk of your car when you leave home on Friday night. Forget the kids, email and Facebook. Bring two or three bottles of good wine and some comfortable walking shoes. Oh, and pick a weekend with the likelihood of good weather. My wife and I went to the beach in mid-March and the bulk of it was cold, windy and rainy. It wasn’t much fun. Yes, we had some much needed downtime, but it was intended to be a beach trip, not a sit inside and catch up on your reading list time. Unless it’s Winter time with a roaring fire in the fire place, the simple act of being outdoors sitting in the sun beside the water does wonders for your soul.
The following conversation points are directed at getting deeper with each other emotionally, which is why you have to make time for it. Don’t be satisfied with just filling out a string of answers to complete the propose assignment. As you are engaging each of these assignments include why you want this to happen, why it’s important to you and what it would do for you if you had it. If your spouse doesn’t know what you want, they can’t give it you. Further, if you don’t know what you want you’ll always be dissatisfied. And last, but certainly not least, if you cannot verbally declare what you want even God can’t engage with you in it. You create with your voice, even as God did, because it activates the Holy Spirit, as well as the angels, and your declarations tend to bring an order your life that is positive.
What are your dreams for the future individually?
Examples are; Personal growth, increased level of joy, exercise, expanding the number of personal friends, hobbies you have put off that you would like to engage in, dreams you have laid down because there wasn’t time or resources or because you thought it was impractical, travel you would like to do, things you would like to learn, adventures you would like to experience, classes you would like to take, etc.
Write them down.
What are your personal dreams for the two of you?
Some specific examples are; Spending time together, time apart, changes in your sex life, activities you would consider doing regularly, engaging intentional spiritual growth, conferences you would consider attending, marriage seminars and retreats you would attend, praying together, outdoor activities, improvements in the house and property you need or would like to make, take dance lessons, invest in things that create more beauty in your lives (planting flowering shrubs, trees or flowers) or things that will create more leisure time, weekend travel, vacations you would like to take including the favored destinations and what you would do there, changes in the atmosphere of your home, people you would like to exclude from your circle and those to begin engaging, attend a cooking class, start a garden, eat healthier, etc.
Write them down.
What would you personally like to accomplish before midnight on December 31st of this year? Then as a couple?
Write them down.
What barriers to achieving these things can you identify?
What can you do to begin to address them? What are you willing to commit to in breaking through them? What can each of you do to help your spouse achieve their individual goals, your collective objectives, or pierced barriers?
So often in life our marriage roles become fixed, because one or the other is more suited to fulfilling those roles, or there is a presumption that those roles are set by our culture and we simply adopt them because “that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.” We actually never discussed them, we just settled into them because that’s what our family of origin did. Are there chores, or tasks that you perform that you would like to give up, not because you are tired of it, but because you are actually not suited for it and you need help? Lay it out before each other. Discuss potential options and consider a time table for implementation of what you can mutually agree on.
Finally, I would like each of you to make a hardcopy list of at least ten (10) things that you love, admire and appreciate about your spouse.
Attempt to fully express why you love/admire/appreciate this characteristic in them and what it means to you that they have it. I would suggest that you recall what attracted you to them in the first place and why that is still important to you, even how its made a difference in your life. Write this down before you leave for the weekend, and read this to each other before you go to bed on Friday night, but only if there is ample time, (this isn’t just a box to check off.) Then do it again on Saturday night, but try to use different words and examples. This may take some time, so don’t wait till Friday afternoon to start it. Shoot for completion at least by Thursday evening. Feel free to make it longer than ten items.