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.

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