Today I’m excited to share with you an article that my husband Rodney and I wrote together about having an extraordinary marriage. I hope you will enjoy it!
Time apart can be hard on your relationship, but wise choices will keep your marriage full of connection
Many couples today are in a unique situation. They’re married; they may even have a decent relationship. Yet circumstances have placed a physical distance between them. One mate may travel out of town on business for days at a time. Or one may work the day shift and the other nights. Sometimes an out-of-town family crisis commands the attention of one mate while the other takes care of life at home.
Separation is often a recipe for marital stress. Couples can easily drift apart. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Even in the middle of these challenges, your marriage can thrive — with a little work.
How do you spell love? It’s an old, familiar saying, but it’s true. You spell love T-I-M-E. Yes, we’re talking about a time-starved and frequently-separated marriage here. But understand that time may not always involve huge quantities. What often fosters friction and a continuous atmosphere of stress in a marriage may be the long spans between moments of connection.
A wise pastor once said the time married couples spend together is sometimes like meal choices. You may only have time for brief moments together — a snack. Or you may have time for a banquet. Occasionally, there’s the need for a full-fledged feast. The important thing is purposefully guarding time to stay connected.
Snack times can be as simple as a phone call. Years ago, I (Rodney) had a job that involved extensive travel; I was often gone for a week at a time. This was before the days of cell phones, when long-distance calls were expensive. But Selma and I made the commitment that I would call every night while I was on the road. It was worth the expense to keep us connected. It made an amazing difference. Plus, my reentry into home life when the trip was over went much smoother because we invested in daily communication.
In your marriage, there are times when a banquet is in order. This might be an official date night. When you’re often separated, special couple time becomes even more vital for a healthy relationship. Take turns planning these dates.
Stretch your imagination. Date night should be more than just dinner out or going to a movie where you sit together in silence for three hours. There’s not much chance for reconnecting there. Variety will give you both something to anticipate, and coming up with a creative date night will challenge your imagination. Here are some ideas:
- Go for a walk in that new park in your town.
- Borrow a couple of bikes, and explore some nearby greenways.
- Eat sandwiches at home, and then look into each other’s eyes at one of those $5-a-cup coffee places.
The idea is to share life — and not just space — together.
Occasionally, a marriage will need the feast: a retreat or getaway where both spouses recharge their marital batteries on a variety of levels. A feast is an overall reconnection that requires a longer amount of time.
For some couples, there’s no problem taking the time to get away. But you are a special couple, remember? So it might take a special effort. It might cost money that doesn’t come easily for you; it might even mean taking a vacation day from work.
Consider this connection an investment in your marriage. Marriage is meant to last a lifetime. So, if your relationship is going to last that long, it should be happy! Put away a few dollars each week for your getaway. Put the dates on the calendar. Make it a priority.
The benefits? Your sacrifice of time, money, and energy will help you to appreciate each other and to value your time together. A feast provides you with the opportunity to make your marriage richer and more meaningful.
Regardless of how long or short your time together may be, cherish it. Seize the moments of togetherness. Commit to a regular diet of connecting.
Life can separate spouses in a number of ways. Pray for creativity in addressing your unique separation challenges. Our Lord wants you to have a close marriage, regardless of your situation. Fight the potential to drift apart. A stronger marriage awaits you.
This content was originally shared in HomeLife magazine.