Before marriage, romance often seems easy. Without kids, financial pressures and annoying habits, keeping the spark alive feels effortless. But after marriage, spouses often stop dating and take one another for granted.
If you and your mate have grown distant, rarely communicate on an intimate level, or spend more time with your children or friends than you do each other, be encouraged. Here are five practical ways to rekindle the spark you once enjoyed.
As simple as it seems, you need to talk to each other. You may be thinking, “But I talk to my spouse all the time.” I’m not talking about discussing family business. When I say talk, I mean dream together, share your thoughts, expose your feelings instead of keeping them to yourself.
It’s important to turn off the television or put down that magazine and look into each others eyes while you converse. Really listen and understand. If your spouse is distracted, then ask him or her to carve out 10-15 minutes just to catch up.
2. Keep short accounts and extend forgiveness regularly
Nothing will ruin a desire to be with your spouse faster than resentment and bitterness. In return, it also ruins your spouses desire to be with you. Fights are going to happen in marriage; there’s no way around it. But you can choose to handle these conflicts in the right way and build up your marriage instead of tearing it down.
In Ephesians 4:31-32, the apostle Paul tells us:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
3. Use words of affirmation regularly
The tongue is a powerful tool. Instead of pointing out all of the ways your spouse regularly disappoints you, start to look for the positive attributes. By giving a little praise, more of your mates good qualities will stand out.
In addition, you will find your spouses heart growing larger toward you as he or she feels more appreciated and adored.
4. Check your expectations
If you find that your spouse is continually disappointing you, it may not be his or her actions; it may be your expectations. Everyone comes into marriage with a set of unspoken rules about life.
Husbands should always… Wives should always… These rules are based on conclusions we’ve made watching our own parents and other couples that we admire. But it isn’t fair to create unspoken expectations for your spouse and then get annoyed when they aren’t followed.
5. Never say the word divorce
Marriage is a covenant that is made to last until death. That may be hard to believe in a culture where divorce is commonplace, but the Word of God is very serious about the promise of vows between man and wife (Matthew 19:3-9).
I’ve heard many couples use the word divorce as a way to threaten and control his or her spouse, such as: “If you don’t stop, I’ll divorce you.”
If you choose to handle conflict in this way, your spouse can become afraid that you’re going to leave and find it difficult to trust you. These feelings then lead to bitterness and isolation.
Instead, tell your spouse that you will never leave. Let your husband or wife know that you are willing to work things out because you made a promise to your spouse and to God to stay in the marriage as long as you both shall live.
Hal White serves as Chief Operating Officer for iDisciple (iDisciple.org). His varied background includes Student Minister for Fellowship Bible Church (Roswell, Ga), FL/GA/ALA Area Director for Campus Crusade for Christ, and Vice-President for North America with Crown Financial Ministries. Hal and his wife Carla, reside in Alpharetta, Georgia.