By Kendra Fletcher, Crosswalk.com
Marriages, as you know, most often start with a glorious and joyful bang. And as you may also know, if the title of this article caught your eye, marriages can show signs of a slow fizzle within a matter of several surprising years.
Husbands and wives may begin to feel disconnected, despite the fact that married people tend to share every intimate detail of their lives, from roof to car to bed.
We might typically blame the distractions of life and the cultural busyness by which we find ourselves driven, but there can be other factors that contribute to a sense of marital disconnection. If you find yourself in that space, now is a good time to contemplate if there are any warning signs in your marriage that point to a rift in communication.
You just might need to make some changes.
As with all relationships, it takes more than one person to make things work. If you are sensing a disconnection with your spouse, request that they sit down with you and ask yourselves a few questions. Do you and your spouse see any of the following warning signs occurring in your marriage?
5 Warning Signs You Need to Reconnect with Your Spouse:
1. You’re like two ships passing in the night.
Welcome to 21st-century living, where we try to cram in as much productivity and activity into each and every day as we possibly can. In our “you only live once” approach to career, family, and relationships, we are driven to produce more, do more, see more, and experience more.
Even if one spouse is not a breadwinner and opts to stay home and take care of the household management and children, our schedules can drive us right past each other as one spouse heads out the door while the other returns to put their feet up on the couch.
All relationships can and should tolerate some distance, but the reality is, if your marriage is characterized by constant hit-and-miss, you’re naturally going to feel as if you are disconnected from your spouse.
If you’re like two ships passing in the night, this may be the signal that you need to stop the boat and drop anchor. Take some time to make adjustments in the calendar and realign your schedules. One big alteration or 10 minor modifications may be the course correction you need to reconnect with one another.
2. Little things have become way bigger issues than they should be.
Ah, yes. We’ve all experienced the mountain-out-of-a-molehill syndrome, where tiny barbs or side comments become surprise volcanic eruptions exploding seemingly out of nowhere. The shock comes by way of the fact that very few of us saw it coming.
Small hurts, little excuses, careless criticisms—these are the kindling that sparks the fire that threatens to burn the whole house down.
But what if we took a step back for just a moment and saw those little things for what they really are? Little things. Annoyances. The stuff of daily life that gets under our skin if allowed to go unchecked and unforgiven.
And that’s the key: unchecked and unforgiven.
If the root of the distance with your spouse is a compendium of unforgiven small things, you know what you need to do: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
3. You can’t remember the last time you had sex.
Pushing yourself off to one side of the bed while your spouse is falling asleep an arm’s length across the mattress every night ought to be a clear signal that distance has come between the two of you. As a wife who has allowed our sex life to wain because so many other things were pulling at our time, let me encourage you to fight ardently for this crucial component of your marriage.
I know that sex can be complicated. I know that all kinds of issues can enter into the marriage bed and affect the relationship there. However, until there is an acknowledgment that something is amiss, healing can’t begin. It may be time to get some professional counseling.
If, on the other hand, sexual intimacy has never hit a slow period until recently, it might be an indication that you and your spouse need to reconnect. Think of it this way: If all you have is each other to cling to and lean on and enjoy intimacy, you’ll need to find a way to press into your marriage instead of pulling apart.
As a married couple, all you do have is each other, so make sure you’re taking the time to reconnect physically as well as emotionally.
4. You’re bickering as a way of regular communication.
This one hits home for many of us, doesn’t it? If we’re not the couple constantly nitpicking each other, we know a couple in our family or circle of friends who is, and it isn’t pretty.
Sometimes bickering takes the place of kind and thoughtful conversation because everything around us is annoying to us. Everything might be annoying to us because we’re trying to keep a pace that is unsustainable (see point #1).
But sometimes bickering occurs because we’re restless and our day-to-day lives have fallen into an ebb and flow that has lulled us into complacency and boredom. As Honore de Balzac famously said, “Marriage must incessantly contend with a monster that devours everything: familiarity.” Is the monster of familiarity devouring your marriage?
If bickering is your default way of communicating with your spouse, it’s time to slow down, choose your words carefully, and reconnect.
5. You’re sure the grass is greener on the other side of the proverbial picket fence.
You’ve heard it said before: you’re either a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty kind of person. In other words, you either view your circumstances as positive and fulfilling (or at least good enough), or you believe that you’ve somehow been given the short end of the stick or a half-empty glass instead of the 64-oz. tumbler spilling over that you believe you deserve.
When we look around and assume that somewhere there is a better life outside of the spouse and the marriage that God has given us, we become like hamsters forever spinning on the wheel within their cage. It’s an exhausting trip to nowhere.
Of course, if you’re in a marriage of abuse, whether physical or psychological, you need to seek some outside counsel. Don’t hesitate. But if you’re simply bored by the mundane (see point #4), disillusioned by the chasm between what you thought your marriage would be like and what it has actually turned out to be, or gazing at what’s on someone else’s plate and assuming it’s better than what’s on yours, it’s time for a perspective check.
This is where the Holy Spirit can enter in and show you what you truly have inside of your marriage. Have you been missing the opportunity for personal growth because it’s simply one of those trying relational seasons? Have you neglected the fact that God has given you exactly what He knows you need, whether you agree with Him or not?
Have you forgotten His great, perfect, unending love for you, assuming that what you have is less than His best, when actually, chasing something outside of your marriage will lead you to the worst of possibilities, not the best?
Satan is the one who sows seeds of discontent, not our loving and generous God, who promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). Do you need wisdom and a content heart? Ask, and He will give generously.
Out of the abundance of God’s love for us, we can safely and expectantly move toward reconnecting with our spouse. Whatever the obstacles have been for you, know that God is there to guide you toward unity and harmony, because that is His will for us as believers. Being married is a gift and a privilege, and may our marriages be a light that shines the gospel of grace to everyone around us, including ourselves!
Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and podcaster. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Find her here: www.kendrafletcher.com
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Eric Ward