Life is busy. Between our jobs, hobbies, work, and shuttling kids—it’s easy to stay so busy that we miss intentionally caring for our marriages.
Date night may get less common.
Tender moments slip away.
Honest conversations disappear.
And then you start to wonder what’s happening with intimacy in your couple.
If we’re going to enjoy a healthy, happy, intimate marriage, we must intentionally reconnect with our spouse.
So, what to talk about with your spouse to reconnect?
Things to talk with your spouse to reconnect
Good communication is an important foundation for a great marriage.
We understand that we need to work hard to communicate about children, money, in-laws, vacations, and spiritual growth. We realize that we need to share our thoughts, feelings, and dreams with each other. It seems that we can talk about our finances, our vacation plans, our children’s schedules, and upcoming holiday travel.
But when it comes to the topic of our connection, sexual intimacy, many couples struggle to have meaningful and intentional conversations that help grow their marriage.
It’s even easier to talk with a good friend than with a spouse.
There may be a number of reasons why it’s difficult to talk with our spouse about sexual intimacy: it might be fear or shame or unresolved tension or a fit of low-grade anger.
Things to talk with your spouse to reconnect: Important Conversation
Whatever the reason, there comes a time when we need to move beyond the barriers and have an important conversation.
Here are a few guidelines to help this conversation go well:
- Let your spouse know that you’d like to talk about sexual intimacy and decide together when and where is a good time to have this conversation.
- Speak for yourself and be honest with your feelings, thoughts, and desires.
- Strive to really listen to your spouse. Ask questions to clarify what he or she is saying.
- Remember this is only one conversation; you don’t have to solve everything right now. There will be time for more discussion.
- Pick one thing that you can agree on and decide how you can act on something specific and together.
You need to strengthen your marriage in spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy.
Accepting this challenge means taking the time to actively communicate and discuss your marriage with your husband.
Take time together to discuss how you will be doing with your schedule, maybe on a weekly basis. You need to find time to talk.
Bedtime might not be a good idea!
Where will you discuss your marriage? Face-to-face, not over the phone or by e-mail.
Who will be responsible for initiating that time? Husbands, this is a great opportunity for us!
Preparing to talk about a reunion with your spouse
Make a list of some of the barriers that keep you from sharing your thoughts, feelings, or desires with each other. Then talk through your lists together and look for ways to offer grace and understanding to each other.
- How will you decide who answers the question first? (Rock, paper, scissors?)
- Will you commit to spending some time with each other at the end of the discussion?
- What will you do when one of the questions creates some tension?
Deep questions to ask your spouse
Don’t let any of these questions create pressure.
There’s not a right or a wrong way to do this.
What works for your marriage is what matters. Remember, the purpose of the challenge is to encourage communication together. Sometimes it’s hard work. But it’s always worth it.
Communicating is often a burdensome task, but it is a task that must be accomplished for a marriage to be complete. When communication falters, the marriage is in trouble. When it fails, the marriage is virtually doomed.
—R. C. Sproul, The Intimate Marriage
Question 1: How do you define intimacy?
The word intimacy is one of those words that can have different meanings to different people. Some people think of deep conversations filled with emotional language as a perfect picture of intimacy.
Others imagine walking on the beach as the sun is going down.
For some, the word intimacy is a synonym for sex (these people are generally called husbands).
We often mistake intensity for intimacy.
For years, when our marriage was “in a funk,” we would go on a bigger and better date night—or maybe slip away for a weekend to renew the spark.
We were looking for a more intense encounter.
Big date nights and romantic getaways are great for a marriage, but they don’t ensure intimacy.
Intimacy requires an intentional time to know and be known by speaking of the deepest parts of our souls.
For a marriage relationship to flourish there must be intimacy. It takes an enormous amount of courage to say to your spouse, “This is me. I’m not proud of it—in fact, I’m a little embarrassed by it—but this is who I am.”
—Bill Hybels, Who You Are When No One’s Looking
Question 2: What physical characteristics of your spouse do you most enjoy?
It’s good and it is right for us to enjoy the physical attributes of our spouse.
Physical attributes can arouse desire. And that’s good and right.
Question 3: What hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your marriage?
Question 4: What other things would you like to do together?
People are often enamored with my Super Bowl ring. But it’s my wedding ring that I’m most proud of. And having a good marriage takes even more work than winning a Super Bowl.
—Trent Dilfer, former NFL quarterback, smartmarriages.com
Question 5: What are the three strengths of your marriage?
Question 6: What one area would you like to see growth in?
Question 7:What is your “wildest dream” vacation?
Don’t worry about the cost or any logistics.
Remember, it’s a dream vacation!
Question 8: How are you giving love in your marriage?
Question 9: How do you like to receive love?
Love means many things. It means giving. It means sharing. It means forgiving. It means understanding. It means being patient. It means learning. And you must always consider the other side, the other person. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
—Coach John Wooden, Wooden: A Legacy in Words and Images
Question 10: What are some things that make you laugh out loud?
Laughter, on a daily basis, is like taking a vitamin for your marriage.
—Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, The Love List
Question 11: What are some favorite memories from your wedding day and honeymoon?
We all started out on our journey of marriage with high hopes, big expectations, and a strong commitment.
Along the way, we can lose some of the spark and excitement—sometimes we merely go through the motions, other times are difficult and challenging, and some days are busy and hurried.
Like the Israelites, we tend to forget.
It’s good for us to remember.
The heart of marriage is memories;
and if the two of you happen to have the same ones and can savor your reruns,
then your marriage is a gift.
—Bill Cosby, Love, and Marriage
Question 12: What is one tangible way that you can improve your spiritual intimacy together?
Question 13: Evaluate your physical intimacy. Where are you satisfied? What would you like to see changed?
Question: 14 What specific changes would you like to see that could help grow a more intimate, pleasurable, and satisfying sex life?
A question about SEX!
But the question is broader than just the topic of sex.
The question invites your couple to talk about physical and sexual intimacy.
Physical intimacy certainly includes sexual intimacy, but it includes many other acts of touch—hand-holding, hugs, sitting close to each other on the couch, foot rubs, massages, tender kisses, cuddling, and so much more.
It’s the things that most of us did naturally when we were dating.
And yet over time, it’s easy to stop doing those things, and then we miss out on some special and tender moments together.
Often it’s these simple things that communicate not only our love for our spouse, but also how much we like and enjoy being with our spouse.
Question 15: What different expectations create challenges in your marriage?
When two people come together in marriage, they bring with them a world of different experiences.
Our expectations come from the families we were raised in, the churches we’ve attended, the impact of media, our unique cultures, and so much more.
Those expectations aren’t right or wrong, but they must be spoken and understood.
If not, we end up with unmet expectations, and then disappointment sets in.
When this gap gets created, we must work hard to prevent discouragement, resentment, or bitterness from growing.
Often expectations fall into one of the following categories: unknown, unspoken, or unrealistic.
An unknown expectation is something we are unaware of that, we carry with us, and it’s “hardwired” inside. These often develop from how we saw our parents interact, and we’ve “inherited” them. We learn styles of relating from what our parents did or didn’t do, and we don’t realize the impact of these unmet expectations until something feels different in our marriage. Marital roles (housekeeping, paying bills, etc.) often fall into this category.
Sometimes we are aware of our expectations, but we choose not to speak of them. Unspoken expectations can also create difficulty in our marriages.
Finally, there are unrealistic expectations. These can be the most tricky to see. When we begin to compare our marriages to others, it’s easy to develop unrealistic expectations by thinking our marriage should look like a friend’s or we should be able to do the same things they do. Also, unrealistic expectations are often couched in global terms, such as “always” and “never” (“we should never fight,” or “you’re always late”). Ultimately, unrealistic expectations happen when we are looking for our spouse or our marriage to fill something that our spouse or marriage is not capable of filling.
Remember, expectations aren’t a problem in our marriages. They’re actually the playground where hope and dreams can grow. They become problems only when they are unknown to us, unspoken, or therefore unrealistic—and thus lead to unfulfilled expectations.
Question 16: What are some ways you express your love to your spouse?
Question 17: What words do you like to hear from your spouse?
For some of us, learning to speak some very simple phrases can be of great value in our marriage. For example:
- I love you.
- I’m sorry.
- Let’s hang out.
- I miss you.
- I miss us.
- I love being with you.
- Please forgive me.
- You’re the best.
- I’ve been selfish.
Question: 18 What would a great date night look like?
Be specific: from how it begins, to what you’ll do together, to how it ends!
What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “date night”?
A nice restaurant?
A ball game?
It’s easy for our date nights to fall into a routine, but date nights can be a great opportunity to spark our intimacy and recalibrate our marriage.
A successful marriage is one in which you fall in love many times, always with the same person.
—D. W. McLaughlin, as quoted in Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit
Question 19: What are some behaviors your spouse does that help you feel loved?
Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.
—Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages
Some practical ways to listen better to your spouse
Here are a few simple thoughts that might help get you started on your list:
1. Only one person speaks at a time; therefore the other person focuses on listening.
2. When listening, make eye contact with your spouse. Focus. Acknowledge that you’re listening by nodding your head or offering an “uh-huh” from time to time.
3. Remember the four Don’ts: Don’t interrupt. Don’t rebut. Don’t judge. Don’t shut down.
4. Summarize what you’ve heard. After your spouse finishes talking, summarize what you’ve heard him or her say. For example: “So what I heard you say was . . .”
5. Acknowledge feelings. Good listening is not only about the facts; it’s also about acknowledging the emotion in the conversation. For example: “It seems like you’re really sad about . . .”
6. Be curious. Ask open-ended questions.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
Remember the most powerful three words of listening: “Tell me more.”
A final thought about what to talk about with your spouse to reconnect
Learning to listen well is an important part of any strong marriage.
If we don’t listen well, we may miss what our spouse is trying to say.
Often we listen in order to “pick a fight” or to “from our response,” and we can miss the real intent of our spouse.
“Big picture listening” is learning to hear what’s really being said, not just focusing on a word or a phrase that triggers something in us.
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