I wonder sometimes if barriers toward intimacy cause as many divorces as fights and hostility do. What I mean is, I think intimacy is tough. It is hard to bare all in front of another person. It can be excruciating to let down our armor and really admit to how we feel, where we are weak, where we have failed, and how much we are afraid of to another person.
We know that fighting and disagreements can lead to divorce, but I think a fear of true intimacy is also a factor.
I was thinking, as I drove alone the other night while Tony was home with the girls, how easy it is not to tell him what I've been thinking about. We are busy ... BUSY ... with work and three babies and volunteering and every other normal thing that is a part of this stage of life. That busyness can lead us to exist in these parallel lives where we survive, but we do not connect. Connecting takes work and effort, and sometimes that feels like more than either of us can afford. Sometimes we just want to enjoy the silence ... in those few moments when there is silence ... and not communicate at all.
And, I wonder how many of you are existing in that parallel business of living together but not really knowing each other. I wonder if you see that it is the beginning of a wedge that will grow wider over time. I see it, my husband sees it, and more than that we feel the distance. I am embarrassed to admit that I tell him to check the blog or my insta feed if he wants to know what's on my mind... and yet, I think I've said it all there. But, you may not have a blog or a feed that your spouse wants to scroll through. And that is not the type of connection a relationship as intimate as a marriage is supposed to have, is it? So what do you do?
Truthfully, I get the exhaustion. I get the appeal of laying in bed and exchanging zero words between the two of you... no more thinking... no more responding... all the words and explanations have been used up on the kids and everyone else that demands your attention.
But, a warning: if you allow the wedge to grow ... if you don't invest 10 minutes a day to expressing appreciation and asking each other how you're doing ... you could wind up in a divorce court in a completely preventable situation. You could end up saying to each other, "you don't know me at all" and allow that disconnection to completely divide and separate. We've heard it so many times: "we just grew apart..."
So, when you're just too tired, do these three things:
1. Tell your partner that you're too tired
Start by acknowledging the distance and the disconnection that you're feeling. Simply saying that much can be enough to connect you for the moment. Then...
2. Make an appointment with each other
I mean it ... put it on the calendar. Maybe it's 20 minutes while the kids nap on a Saturday. Maybe it's an hour while you've checked them into the childcare at the gym. Maybe you meet up for lunch while the kids are in school. But, put it on your calendar and don't let anything take priority over it.
During your appointment be ready to share three things that are on your mind and ask them three things that are on theirs. At least one of those three things should be some form of admiration or appreciation for your spouse.
Intimacy takes work. It takes effort and commitment. There are a ton of great ways to have meaningful conversations and enjoy new adventures and we could tell you about all of them. But, when you're too tired, all of that is just too much work! When you're too tired, all of the brilliant ideas seem brilliant for people who have more energy and time than you do.
Instead of discouraging you with a huge task, we want to encourage you with these three simple steps. Avoid the wedge, or acknowledge it when you begin to feel it, and then try something small to close the distance ... a six second kiss ... a two minute conversation ... a lingering hug ... Those simple things could prevent all of those feelings of disconnection and division and truly help you both see past this utterly busy season so that you can #staymarried.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on #Staymarried. It has been republished here with permission.
Michelle Peterson loves LOVE! In 2012 she founded #staymarried, an online resource and podcast that serves over 70,000 people each month by bringing them hope, stories, and resources to help couples navigate the beautiful and daunting work of marriage. She lives in the burbs just outside of Seattle, Washington with her talented and creative husband Tony and their three little daughters Claire, Nora, and Baby Alice. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram, or hiding out at home with her girls.