With the busyness of life, it's all too easy to go days, weeks and even months without really connecting and spending quality time with your spouse. It's too easy to get caught up in the "thick of thin things" and later realize that it's been a lengthy period of time since you've made a conscious effort to nurture your marriage. There are work demands, kids' activities, community events, family reunions, church and other volunteer responsibilities, and the list goes on and on. While each of these activities are good, meaningful, and important, they can become a distraction to something even more important - your marriage and relationship with your spouse!
If you aren't careful, these good activities could very well replace (or at the very least detract from and inhibit) something much better.
Chances are you know a couple that was married for years - perhaps even raised a family together - and later ended in divorce. How does that happen? Of course, facts and circumstances vary with each unique story and sometimes there's no better path forward (and we don't want to minimize the challenges that some individuals and couples face), but it's pretty likely that the couple you know let the busyness of life slowly overwhelm and erode their once vibrant relationship. Now, that may not have been the straw that broke the camel's back, but no doubt it contributed to the heavy load the camel was packing in the first place that laid the foundation for the disaster of divorce.
One very simple and practical idea that can help you avoid this all-too-familiar story is to create daily touch points with your spouse.
What is a daily touch point?
Put very simply, it's an opportunity for you and your spouse to reconnect throughout the day. It's an opportunity for you to show and express your appreciation and love for each other in the midst of the busyness of life. It's possible that you're going through one of the busiest times of your marriage, but despite all those outside distractions, you and your spouse can still maintain (and even nurture) your relationship together!
Having a daily touch point (or several daily touch points) is a simple trick to keep that marital flame burning bright even when the winds of life are blowing strong, because the goal of daily touch points is CONNECTION.
A quick snuggle in the morning before dragging yourself out of bed to conquer the world.
A phone call during lunch just to check-in.
Secretly putting a reoccurring reminder on your spouse's phone that says "I love you!"
A quick text to your spouse right before their big meeting starts to wish them good luck and tell them how proud you are.
Hiding a note in their lunch with all kinds of mushy-gushy-lovey-dovey stuff.
An email with a funny inside joke to lighten the afternoon.
Putting a picture of you and your spouse on your last anniversary getaway together on your desk at work.
Stopping on your way home to grab a flower for your spouse (or ice cream!).
Giving your spouse a little love tap on their bum when you pass them in the kitchen as you rush out the door.
Sending them a picture of you while you're on your fancy business trip.
One of the best ways to create a daily touch point is to take your spouse's emotional temperature. Every day.
Take your spouse's temperature
Just as a doctor would use a thermometer to take a patient's temperature, you can use an emotional thermometer to find out how your spouse is feeling. Are they stressed, tired, happy, depressed, discouraged, mad, excited, angry, upset or frustrated? The emotions will vary depending on the day, life stressors (children fit into this category), and the overall health and well-being of your spouse.
So, how do you take your spouse's emotional temperature? Follow these steps:
1. Look in their eyes.
2. Touch them in a loving, but non-sexual way (i.e. take their hand, touch their face, run your fingers through their hair, kiss them on the cheek, etc.).
3. Ask, "How are you?" With an emphasis on the word YOU. (Not, "How was your day?" or "How was work?" but "How are YOU?")
Try and do all three steps at the same time. Unless your spouse is incredibly good at hiding their feelings, it should be pretty obvious to you where they fall on the emotional-temperature scale. Knowing where your spouse is at will give you the ability to then help meet your spouse's needs and find ways to serve them.
If your wife is in a great mood because her client meeting went extremely well today, then celebrate accordingly. If your husband had a rough day and comes home stressed, be sensitive to his feelings and find a way to make his evening a little better. Now, if he just happens to be HANGRY (hungry, and therefore, angry); please get him some food ASAP.
Sometimes it won't be easy to read your spouse's temperature, but with time, you will become more sensitive and discerning of your spouse's needs, feelings and emotional health.
There are countless ways that you and your spouse can create daily touch points. The key is to be consistent and make it happen. Making an effort to connect with your spouse every day is one way to help ensure that your relationship will survive the inevitable storms of life and emerge stronger than ever.
This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.