The other night, as I was working on this very blog post, my husband sent me a text message from our bed (I was downstairs):
“Are you coming to bed?”
My response: “After I finish this post.”
“What’s it about?” he texted back.
“Connecting with your spouse in an over-connected world,” I responded.
Oh the irony!
And then it hit me that working on this post after he was already in bed was hindering our connectedness! Ouch!
I shut the computer and went to bed.
Making connections has never been easier than it is today.
Yet, making real, authentic, deep connections has never been harder.
We communicate more than ever, but we seem to be saying less.
I’m not writing this post today as a marriage expert or as someone who hasn’t struggled in this area. Rather, I am writing to you as someone who still, to do this day, struggles to connect with my spouse in an over-connected world!
But I’m working on it, and we’ve decided to share some things with you that we hope to do to connect better in 2015.
1. Learn his personality.
But, really, knowing your spouse’s personality can help you understand him and connect to him better!
My husband, for example, is an ESTJ, while I am almost the complete opposite–an ENFP. There will be times when I think that my husband is not being as emotionally connected, when it really is just that his personality is not as feelings-related as I am. And there will also be times when he thinks I am being too emotional. Knowing that my feelings are closely tied to my personality helps him understand me as well.
2. Learn his love language.
This is so important and one that I allowed to frustrate me–instead of help me–for years.
My husband and I read The Five Love Languages and even attended both a class and conference based on the concept early in our marriage. The theory is that everyone has a primary and secondary love language, and they best feel and accept and give love through these languages.
The languages are physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, and acts of service.
My husband and I have opposite love languages! Mine are words of affirmation and physical touch, while his are gifts and acts of service.
It takes a lot of creativity and thought into making sure the other one feels loved based on his love language and not your own! But in the same token, it’s easy to overlook when the other one is showing love in his or her own way.
For example, in the past, it wasn’t a big deal to me to receive a gift from my husband because gifts are at the bottom of the list when it comes to my love language. But now I look at it as: “Hey! He is really showing me how much he loves me with this gift!”
3. Get him a real card.
Since words are my love language, I love it when someone writes me something encouraging or gives me a heartfelt card that I can read over and over again.
Yes, today’s technology has made it easy to just send a quick eCard, and that is OK sometimes. I do it, too, and electronic greetings are especially good for when there is a time crunch or you’ve simply forgotten a special occasion until it’s there or if you have a super tight budget.
But there is nothing like receiving a special card in the mail–a card you can hold in your hands, save, and re-read.
My grandmother was the first person to send me a card after I got married, and when she passed away last month, one of the first things I did was go to a memory box and look for the cards she had lovingly sent me over the years.
If you need help finding a store with great cards, you can check out the Hallmark store locator. This website also includes card samples, which makes it a little easier to pick out the card once you get to the store!
4. Go to bed at the same time.
This is a tough one, especially since I’m a work-at-home mom who has had the habit of working at night, after our girls are in bed, for over four years now!
But, as my husband and I have worked toward having more daylight “office hours” in place, this year is the time for me to break this habit, so my husband and I can go to bed at the same time more frequently.
This goes both ways. My husband is a self-proclaimed night owl, and when he is off for holidays and other vacation time, he enjoys staying up very late at night.
When one of us goes to bed and is asleep hours before the other one, it’s really hard to connect.
5. Go to bed earlier.
I recently told a mentor of mine that I think going to bed earlier would solve all of my problems!
Truly, getting more sleep would help me have more energy to be a better wife, mom, homemaker, and business owner during the day!
If both of us go to bed at the same time–and earlier than we normally do–it also affords us more time to connect with each other before we drift off to sleep.
6. Have more sex!
I admit that I am pretty embarrassed to even write this, but I think it’s important! (Plus, I have three children who all look just like me and my husband. I think you all know what goes on behind closed doors!)
Our marriage has not always been easy, but I have definitely seen that connecting sexually has brought us closer together.
I don’t think there can be a hard and fast rule for just how often couples should have sex. There are life seasons, work schedules, and different drive levels, etc. that can impact this.
But the most important thing is to get on the same page as your spouse and make it happen. My husband and I have made a goal to increase our frequency this year.
For some people, that might be upping it to twice per month, and, for others, it might be that you need to have sex twice per day.
There is a whole chapter in the book Trim Healthy Mama that speaks to the health benefits of more frequent sex–about two or three times per week. This chapter was very eye opening for me and gives more reasons for sex than just connecting deeply with your spouse!
7. Put away the computer.
This is a huge challenge for work-at-home entrepreneurs like my husband and me, but it’s really vital.
So many times, my husband and I will just pull out our laptops after the girls go to bed because it’s habit.
We’ve been discussing the need for putting more boundaries around our computer time this year.
8. Turn off the phones.
Again, guilty as charged!
There has been so much written about putting down the smart phones to connect with your kids, but what about doing it to connect with your husbands?
Another friend recently admitted that she and her husband will be in the bed together while they are both scrolling through their Facebook feeds instead of connecting to each other.
I think this issue is more common than not. My husband has had to ask me before to put away my smart phone while we were on date nights!
We want to make a concerted effort to put away the phones more often this year.
9. Sit together on the couch.
You might laugh at this one–especially if you sit together already all the time!
But my husband has his favorite recliner that we’ve had since we got married. That is what he usually sits in to watch movies, etc., while I lie on the couch.
This year, we are making it a point to sit together on the couch more often, which will open up the doors for more physical touch.
10. Get away together as often as possible–and unplug.
It is not feasible for all couples to get away together–sans kids–for a weekend, but if you do have the finances and childcare, I think this would be a very worthy investment in your marriage!
Now that we have three young children, we do not want to burden my parents with too long of overnight trips, so we have made it a goal to try to go away somewhere together for just one night about once per quarter. We will go no longer than one hour away, so we can get away but still be accessible to our children.
If you cannot afford a hotel or bed and breakfast for the night, why not see if someone you trust will keep your children in their home, so the two of you can at least have the house all to yourselves?
Just as I like to give myself a personal retreat , I think it’s important to retreat with your spouse. My husband and I did this technology-free for the first time this past summer. We went without computers, and I turned off my smart phone. I had not felt that relaxed in a really long time!
One of my goals for 2015 is to connect more deeply with others, period–not just with my spouse. My 2014 was a year where my online community felt crowded and my real-life community felt lacking. I want that to change.
What are your tips for connecting with your spouse in an over-connected world? Don’t forget to post your Valentine’s Day gifts and cards on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #PutYourHeartToPaper!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hallmark via Cafe Mom. Thank you for supporting this site!