Thursday, February 28, 2013

Couples Or Co-Tenants - Bridging the Gulf (2)

It has been exciting doing these posts on relationships. I have been tremendously blessed in the process. I hope it has been a blessing to everyone of you following.

Taking off from where I stopped last week, I will expand more on spending quality time together.

Actively Engage and Be Consciously Present:
Spending quality time together requires making effort to give full attention to each other. Eliminate distractions when you are talking to each other especially when trying to resolve a conflict and during times you have designated for each other.

One of my friends simply said, "Turn off the electronics and sit side-by-side." Just  sitting side-by-side, with the electronics turned off, and talking can be as special as it gets for some of us but it is worth it if you want to give focused attention to each other.

If you must spend time on the electronics during the precious moments you have together, especially after an already long day at work, be courteous enough to tell your spouse what you need to do and how long it would take. Stick to this time frame.

Study the Word Together:
"For Christians, studying and discussing the word together daily is a speedboat to enhanced communication," says Yemisi, in her note to me. She and her husband use the same devotional. Even when one of them is travelling, they still seek opportunities to discuss together what they studied each day! They started with a few verses. Now this practice has become the anchor of their relationship. Talk about the power of consistency.

Start by sharing one verse together each day - make it regular and consistent.

"In consistency lies the power of God to transform your relationship."
- Gbenga & Ronke Akingbade (Marriage Fellowship)

Closeness and Companionship:
Marriage is about sharing our lives together. We make time for each other. We do things together. We show up at events together, as often as possible.

We pay attention to tending our relationships to keep them healthy, vibrant and connected. No one leaves a garden of roses unattended and expects to find the roses blooming.

Closeness is maintained when a couple share a commitment to something interesting which they both enjoy doing together. We can regenerate intimacy through shared experiences.

When couples think of themselves as a team, they help each other go through life. They support each other to grow and go through tough times. Because, it is a vow of  'for better and for worse' we shared.

Be interested in each other's life - jobs, interests, dreams, thoughts, etc. When you stop being a part of each other’s lives and fail to operate as a team, you become ineffective as a couple. Attending to each other's needs reminds us of the feelings and experience, which brought us together in the first place. And this draws us closer to each other.

Maintain and Nurture Your Friendship:

"Marriages that will last a life time are those where partners work at being good friends to each other…"
- Tim & Kathy Keller (The Meaning of Marriage).

Friends don’t talk only about to-do list—tasks that needs to be done and bills that needs to be paid.

Check what you and your spouse are talking about the most.

True friends share experiences. They share details of each other's lives, which enhances their closeness. Friends produce shared memories. Couples must work together as friends to produce memories of shared experiences. Shared memories help bond you together, and give you good times to remember when things get rough.

Friendship is also about sharing something in common which keeps you connected no matter how rough or smooth your journey together is, or the geographic distance between you.

Are you laughing together and making each other laugh? That's what friends do.

Pause… When was the last time you and your spouse had a really good laugh together? I love to hear my husband laugh out loud, it simply thrills my heart. I love when he makes me laugh.

Appreciate Your Spouse:
Appreciating your spouse is crucial for a joyful and healthy marriage. Appreciation should not only be given when your spouse goes the extra mile, it should be sprinkled throughout the day, everyday. The busyness of life can crowd our thoughts and make us to miss beautiful moments for which we ought to be thankful.

Verbal communication is important in expressing your appreciation to your spouse - this is one of those times that silence is not golden. Communicating appreciation should be as loud in words as in action.

Pay attention to the little things:
Don't neglect the little opportunities that presents themselves everyday to connect and draw closer together.
  • Find little ways to let your spouse know throughout the day that you are thinking about him/her— a phone call, text, messaging, little notes etc.
  • Consider how you greet one another after work. Making a consistent effort to reconnect with a tender touch or embrace, will establish one of the most important patterns for setting a positive tone.
    • When you start your evening together with a tender touch, you create an atmosphere of love and intimacy around your home.
  • Common courtesies: Are you as polite to your spouse as you are to others outside your home? Saying "thank you" and "please" will ensure that you establish a pattern of politeness and you don't fall into the danger of taking each other for granted or becoming rude to each other.
  • Be intentionally loving and kind to each other.
These little actions are like little investments into your marriage. They make a huge difference when it comes to developing a habit of intentionally connecting with each other.
Take time to invest in your marriage - it is WORTH IT!
 (As a parent, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children!)"
- Audra Michelle (Rediscovering Domesticity)

Keep Open and Honest Communication:
Create an atmosphere of mutual trust where you can effectively communicate what you feel and need from each other, and where you can speak the truth in love. Listen to and give your spouse your full undivided attention while he/she is talking.

Healthy and honest communication is about knowing what to say and when to say it, such that it will be beneficial to the relationship. Your words should contribute to each other's well being and not hurtful. Especially when you are trying to resolve a conflict.

"An apt answer brings joy to your spouse, and a well timed-word is a good thing"
- Prov. 15:23 paraphrased.

How good is a word spoken in due season - the right word at the right time.

Open and honest communication is not evasive. Be willing to share pertinent information with each other. This include sharing information about what you are doing on the social media. If you can't sit side-by-side with your spouse while you are on the social network or internet, or share this time with your spouse then you should not be there.

Be specific about what you are doing when you are separate from your spouse. Words like  "somebody" or "somewhere" are vague. Something is wrong if you feel the need to conceal information from your spouse except you are planning a surprise for him/ her.

"The safest way to ensure that interactions outside the marriage including those via social media do not affect the marriage is to make sure such interactions are not kept secret. Hiding any interaction from your spouse is not privacy, it is secrecy." - Peggy Vaughan (To Have and To Hold)

"Make sure that little things don't get in the way of good and effective communication."
- Angela Ackerman

Keeping Secrets Hurts Intimacy:
According to Tim Gardner, you must be able to answer the following questions if you want to keep secrets from your spouse:
  • Why are you keeping this knowledge from your spouse? Is doing so the best for both of you?
  • How is your marriage enhanced and intimacy promoted by keeping this secret?
  • Are you sincerely seeking the highest and best good of God's great gift of your marriage by doing so?

Personal revelation must be accompanied by discretion in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
To maintain oneness with your spouse, you have to commit yourself not to do anything that would need to be kept secret. Keeping secrets provides a breeding ground for lies, which will not promote trust or enhance intimacy.

Don’t get too lazy to try harder at bridging the gulf between you and your spouse, and to create an atmosphere in your home where you can derive utmost pleasure in your marriage. That is the only where you can rightly do so. We need to be vigilant to maintain intimacy and love in our relationship.

While doing this series, I spotlighted a few areas I want to work harder on to deepen intimacy in my marriage and keep us from drifting apart. I am committing myself to paying attention to these areas.

Did you discover areas you want to work harder on? Are you willing to commit yourself to doing this? Share with us in the comment box below and we will pray along with you.

I thought it better to treat "Maintaining intimacy in special situations and during difficult circumstances" separately. I will do a post on this next month. I wish you many joys as you strive to enrich your marriage.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Couples Or Co-Tenants - Bridging the Gulf (1)

The ultimate goal of marriage is oneness. We can not be truly one if there is a gulf between us because we have drifted apart. Bridging the gulf and reconnecting restores intimacy to our relationship and restores us to oneness.

I was overwhelmed by the depth of sincerity in the responses I received since the last post: Couples Or Co-Tenants - Drifting Apart. Your comments on the blog, and by emails, text messages and phone calls have been very encouraging.

The focus this week and the next is on bridging the gulf.

How do we attain and maintain oneness in our marriage in a way that will ensure we not only bridge existing gulf but prevent us from drifting apart again?
© Monkey Business Images |

Marriage - Designed by God

A dear friend of mine once said that God did not design marriage to be on autopilot. I agree with him 100%.

There is a depth of knowing that God designed for a husband and wife in marriage, which we must strive to attain and maintain. It is the mystery of two becoming one and in Him. To the extent that they will seek each other's best interest all the days of their lives:
·                  he seeks her highest good and considers no sacrifice too great to be made, which will bring benefit to her, by loving her selflessly - Eph. 5: 25, 28, 33 (WOW, three times within ten verses!!!)
·                  she will do him good, respect him and greatly enrich his life - Prov. 31:12, Eph 5:22, 33.

God's desire is for His purpose to be fulfilled in and through our marriage. He designed it to be exciting, vibrant and fulfilling. Marriage is to be enjoyed and not endured.

"Marriage is bursting with opportunities for deeper spiritual growth."
- Paul & Halee Scott

Oneness and biblical closeness develop between us when we put our spouse in their right position in our lives and we give ourselves selflessly to our spouse and marriage. Honouring the relationship God has given you with your spouse is a responsibility. It requires a willingness to share your life with your spouse at the deepest level.

Healthy and vibrant relationships require work, attention and persistence. In addition to this, it takes willingness, commitment and effort to attain and maintain oneness in marriage - to live our lives together as one.


In the two previous posts, I highlighted some of the reasons why couples drift apart, what could cause a gulf and why couples may experience dry patches in their marriage.

The severity and the duration of the dryness vary as much as the causes. Conflict happens even in the happiest marriage. Whatever the cause may be, one thing is common, you feel disconnected from your spouse at this period. You feel you are in a desert place and there is a gulf between you. It is difficult to generate a feeling of oneness when you feel distant from your spouse and when there are stuff hanging between you.

It is important to identify what caused the rift between you and your spouse, and be willing to take responsibility for your role in this. It is possible that you have learnt that in desiring a change, you have been talking to the 'wrong person' and you are expressing your desire concerning your spouse and marriage in prayer to God.

Along with this, you may also have learnt that you must be willing to yield your will to God's will and to have a right attitude while you are waiting. Part of having a right attitude is to look beyond the problem or issue causing the conflict, and long for a restoration of fellowship with your spouse.

Resolving the conflict and reconnecting with your spouse must be a heartfelt desire.

It is not about keeping a scoreboard of who has won. It is important there is a longing to reconnect. If this longing is no longer there or it is at its lowest ebb, you are likely to be harboring anger and unforgiveness.

Someone has to be willing to make the first move towards reconnecting after a period of drifting apart and to bridge the gap. It does not matter who makes the first move. Both of you stand to gain when one is willing give this gift of love aimed at restoring intimacy to your relationship. Intimacy —physical, emotional and spiritual, is important for a vibrant marriage. Reconnecting brings intimacy back into your relationship. If it is uppermost in your mind then it is not too late to turn the boat around and start sail towards each other.

So how do we keep our relationships in good shape and make it easy to rekindle intimacy after a conflict and a period of dryness?

Pray for Each Other Together

Each time I listen to my husband praying for me and he says, "Father, I pray for my wife, your daughter…." My heart is thrilled and it swells up with love and appreciation for him. It delights me to hear the things he asks God for concerning me and the passion with which he prays for me, and that endears my heart to him the more.

A dear sister and encourager shared her story with me. When her husband heard her praying about an issue relating to his job, which he had not shared with her but she had heard from his friends, he was touched. It made him to start sharing more details with her.

"All marriages have problems because they are made up of two imperfect people. But if you add the presence of a perfect God, then you have unlimited possibilities for drawing closer to what God intended for marriage. Whether that happens is determined by how frequently and how fervently God is invited into your relationship. The more you pray together, the more you will see God do great things." - Stormie Omartian (When Couples Pray Together).

Praying for each other separately and together as a couple promotes both emotional and spiritual intimacy, oneness and unity in the marriage.

Put Your Spouse and Marriage High on Your Agenda

Where do you place your marriage on the list of your priorities?

After our relationship with God, our marriage is our number two priority. Your marriage comes before your children. It was there before the children came and it will be there when the children leave the nest. You don’t want to wake up one morning after the children have gone to find yourself living with a total stranger. You can make your honeymoon more than just a memory but it can become a way of life.

 "Keep love alive—starting now—by establishing daily habits of romance, passion and intimacy." - Les & Leslie Parrot (Marriage Insurance)

Spend Quality Time Together

To keep romance alive you and your spouse need to spend quality time together. This excludes time spent with friends together or running errands. It refers to time when you give your full attention to your spouse. It is just between the two of you with the objective of connecting to each other.

When we spend time together with our loved one doing things together, it is an act of love. Attention is needed to build real, lasting love and friendship. Closeness develops when a couple share a commitment to some interesting and/or an exciting activity. Intimacy is deepened when you desire to and enjoy being in each other's presence.

© Trahcus |
This is time that you should consider scheduling (put on your agenda) so that you can be committed to it and be consistent with it. It should be regular. Many have suggested a weekly time-out together to do something you both enjoy doing. Weekend getaway, three to four times a year, is a great idea. Each time I hear of couples taking time to have vacation together, and without their children, I am delighted. This is highly recommended especially for couples with older children.

We can not spend quality time together if our attention is distracted.

Next week, I will expand on this. I will also share on appreciating your spouse, nurturing your friendship, special situations among others.  Until then, may the sweet aroma of refreshing rain permeate your marriage as you reconnect together.

"Today's good habits can take care of tomorrow's rough times."
- Les & Leslie Parrot (Marriage Insurance)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Couples or Co-Tenants - Drifting Apart

Many thanks to all of you who emailed your responses to last week's blog. I appreciate your comments and will use them in the next couple of posts during this couple-focused month.

© Mack2happy |
Today is February 14th, a day set aside to celebrate love.

Here is a must-not-miss opportunity to reach out and connect with your spouse in a unique, tangible and active way. An opportunity to put your spouse high on your agenda.

It is a SHOW AND TELL day. And perhaps, a springboard to a renewed and vibrant relationship.

Last week, I shared a short story (fiction) - Adrift, which I am sure many could relate with, and I asked you to comment on what was happening between the couple. I also asked for comments on how the couple can bridge the gulf.

I was prompted to share more about why couples drift apart. And this will be the subject of today's post.

It happened slowly and subtly. The crack lines running deep beneath the surface long before gulf opened wide.

It can happen to any couple irrespective of the length of their marriage. Below are some factors that can cause couples to drift apart.


Your busy schedule can choke intimacy out of your marriage.

When we enter into marriage, we focus attention on each other and that makes us very close. But as years goes on and responsibilities mounts up, our focus tends to turn more towards our jobs, children and a host of other things, and less towards ourselves. When focus is diverted by these day-to-day responsibilities and the marriage is left to languish, couples become disengaged from each other.

If one or both of you is regularly spending more time away from home, more time in the office, more time with other friends, you are likely to drift further apart.

Are you giving your spouse the leftover of your time and the dregs of your strength?

When one or both of you start coming home too tired to give meaningful attention to each other or you find it more interesting to do other things than to be with each other, then you are no longer engaging as an active couple.

Couples drift apart when they no longer have common goals or shared interests, when they begin to spend significant amount of their time and energy with others in shared experience separate from their spouse. This includes time spent with other people with whom you have common goals which can result in closeness with them, and other time- and energy-consuming  activities which excludes your spouse.

When the children and your busy life is all you and your spouse have in common, the marriage suffers. It is no longer exciting and interesting for both of you.

© K Avraham |
A marriage that is dry and patchy like an arid desert or stagnant and stale is not an exciting place to be. Busyness can become an excuse to escape from such a dry, stale, boring or tense marriage.

Negative and critical attitude:

We can loose sight of the things we once appreciated in each other. Gestures that used to touch our hearts begin to go unnoticed. We let a lot of time go by without telling each other how much we care about one another. This causes the marriage to become cold and stale to the extent that many are enduring, tolerating and coping with their marriage rather than enjoying and being fulfilled in it.

As we loose focus on our spouse and their needs, we become more vocal when we are irritated by our spouse’s habits and weaknesses. We criticize more rather than encourage each other. We don't  consider how our spouse is affected when we are negative and critical. I don't know anyone yet changed by a nagging spouse! This negative and critical attitude widens the gulf.

Together but separate:

Sharing the same space, even sleeping on the same bed, does not equate to being together.

Being physically together does not mean we are giving attention to each other if we are connected at the same time to the rest of world via texts, emails and social networks. When more time is spent hugging the screens, and we are virtually everywhere except with the physical people we are occupying space with, our marriage is bound to suffer.

Your spouse may be silently screaming for your undivided attention. Your spouse wants to be truly connected with you—spirit, soul and body— instead of sharing you with a host of other people.

Poor Communication:

When you feel your spouse is not listening to you, taking your opinion into consideration and validating you, it makes you feel uncared for and unloved—your opinion is not important enough to be given attention. When we don’t make the effort to find out what our spouse desires, and to respond to them, we become presumptuous about their needs. It gets worse when decisions about issues concerning your life as a couple are taken unilaterally without seeking each other's opinion.

Couples drift apart when they do not take time to talk and listen to each other. When we care about someone, we value them and we value their opinion.

Keeping secrets:

Couple drift apart when they keep secrets from each other. Withholding information that is relevant to the life and vitality of the relationship will create a gulf between you.

Vibrant and intimate relationship requires deep knowing. The depth of your relationship is influenced by how open you are to each other. The sum of what you keep from each other will determine or limit how deep your relationship can be.

Showing indifference:

If you are not concerned about what is happening to your spouse—good or bad, if what your spouse is doing makes no difference to you, and you are not showing interest in each other, then you are no longer engaging as a couple. You are indifferent and are drifting apart.

Festering wounds:

A preacher once said that Christian couples are great actors. They can have issues boiling beneath the surface, come to church, be courteous to each other, smiling and exchanging pleasantries, without giving a clue of what is going on between them. 

When we are unhappy about something our spouse said or did, and we keep quiet about it,  we become sullen and withdrawn. We feel our spouse does not care about our feelings if he/she does not ask us why, and that can makes us resentful.

There are also times when we are not honest about our feelings even when we are asked. We simply respond; "I'm fine or I'm OK"  when we are not. Keeping quiet about something hurting us is like sweeping debris under the carpet. It festers and rots beneath the surface. It makes the relationship bumpy, and often leads to resentment.

So when we don't communicate openly about issues, we are merely saving it for a latter day, it does not go away, it stays between us, until we deal with it and in the right way. If we don't, the hurts pile up, we harbor negative feelings, and eventually we will start exploding over trivial matters. Little resentments when they build up can kill passion and intimacy in the marriage. And tear the couple apart.

Friends, today is a good day to reflect on why couples drift apart. I hope it will ginger you to renew your commitment to actively engage with your spouse and be determined to keep your relationship vibrant.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Couples Or Co-Tenants

In my first blog post in November 2011, I wrote: "I am a firm believer that applying the truth of God’s words will make Christian marriages strong, vibrant and full of joy, just as God designed it to be."

I also promised to share some insights to enrich your marriages. I have not done much of that.

Therefore, during the month of February—timely and appropriate—I purpose to share some principles, which I hope would stimulate you to deepen intimacy in your relationships.

Here is a story to kick off this couple-focused month.


They sat at opposite ends of the living room facing each other. Their eyes glued to the screens perched on their laps.

He was with his laptop. He had the earphones stuck his ears.

She had her iPad. A notepad rested on the arm of the sofa on one side. A plate of grilled fish—hot and spicy— and a glass of juice were on a tray on top of the stool on the other side.

Once in a while, she lifted her head up and glanced at him. He neither raised his head nor met her glance. Apart from his fingers clicking on the keyboard, only his shoulders moved back and forth as he stretched to ease his fatigue.

An hour passed. The TV continued to whisper softly with no one paying attention, the keyboard clicked furiously in short bursts and her fork resounded on the plate each time she picked at the fish.

More time ebbed away. Then she coughed. It was deep and choking.

She coughed again and her hands flew to her throat. The iPad fell on top of the bag beside her leg.

She coughed again and again, waving one hand frantically in the air, still holding her throat with the other.

Still no response from him.

In a frantic and swift move, she pushed the glass of juice on the floor. The crystal cup shattered into smithereens.

"What the ....?" He jerked upright and yanked the headphone off. He scanned the scene in an instant, pushed the laptop aside and jumped to his feet. He saw tears streaming down her cheeks, hands holding her throat and the plate of half eaten fish.

She coughed, straining to speak but could not.

"Oh dear God!" he groaned and hurried into the kitchen. He was back in a jiffy with a peeled banana and a glass of water. He broke a small piece off and offered her.

"Swallow this without chewing." He said

She did. She shook her head.

"Try another piece." She took it from him and swallowed it. He gave her the glass of water. She drank. She coughed again.

A sigh escaped from her quivering lips. She dropped her hand from her throat and wiped the tears off her cheeks with the back of her hand. Her tears were not just because of the pain in her throat or because of fear that gripped her heart in those brief moments. There was much more to it.

"It's gone down," she whispered.

"Praise God." His shoulders dropped in relief.

He went back into the kitchen and brought back a brush, a spade, mop and bucket. He began to sweep the broken glass pieces together. She watched him.

After a moment, he paused and stared at her, "How did this happen?"  

"I was trying to get your attention." She watched his brow tightened into furrows as he turned away from her. "You were miles away from here. I had no choice." She shrugged her shoulders.

He cleared the mess in silence.

And the gulf grew wider.

What to you think is happening to this couple? 

Let's assume they both have successful careers. They are empty-nesters. And the scene described above is a recurring pattern for them up to the point before she swallowed the fish bone.

Here's is my diagnosis and some pointers that something is brewing beneath the surface:
  • The couple shared the same space but were in separate worlds.
  • They were 'together' without connecting meaningfully with each other for a significant length of time.
  • The husband did not cast a glance in his wife's direction the whole period, while the wife did so occasionally.
There seems to be signs that they are detached from each other and are drifting apart. What do you think?

What other pointers did you notice? In what other circumstances can such a scenario like this play out between couples? What do you think they can do to bridge the gap?

Do share your opinion in the comments box below.

I will pool the comments received together and share in the next post. I will also share insights I have gleaned from many sources and from experiences shared with me.

I encourage you to also watch out for these tell tale signs in your relationship. There is much we can do to prevent us from drifting apart in our marriage. Let's start by talking about it.