This past year has been ridiculously bananas for my family. I started a new job, and my husband got promoted. Our daughter is busy navigating the 4th grade, and our son started walking and is now a full fledged toddler. In addition to all of that, I’ve been traveling a ton, our family dealt with a huge health scare, and our community and social obligations kind of exploded. I should also mention the toddler again because seriously, TODDLERS.
My husband and I are overwhelmed. We’ve been working hard to keep it together for each other. The last time we put this much effort into keeping our relationship running smoothly is years ago when we were dating long distance. When things are going fine and life is regular, our marriage is easy to manage. He and I are both super chill and we actually enjoy each other’s company. We hang out together as often as possible, chat all day long via telephone, text, and video, and are pretty much connected at the hip.
This year has been different. With so much going on, we noticed that we weren’t as in tune with each other as we usually are. We didn’t know what each other had going on which led to schedule conflicts and an overall feeling of not being connected. Once we realized that things were starting to get off course and we weren’t checking in with each other as much as we needed to, we made a change.
We haven’t been married for that long and still have a lot to learn, so I’m really proud that we were able to identify a problem and work together to find a solution. In the last few months, we’ve been able to stay connected, and even get closer.
Text or call whenever we’re thinking about each other.
Because things are so busy for both of us at work, we don’t expect our spouse to pick up the phone whenever we call each other. Still, that doesn’t stop us from checking in just to say “I’m thinking about you.” My favorite is when he sends me a funny meme or a piece of office gossip that he knows I’ll appreciate.
Use technology to keep in touch.
My husband isn’t on social media, but we use a video texting app called Marco Polo throughout the day. It allows us to send one way video messages to each other and is a step up from texting. The visual aspect is nice because it makes us really remember how freaking adorable we are.
Do a digital game or journal together.
A few months ago, we started doing a devotional together through a spirituality app (technology comes through again!). We read it on our own, and there’s a place for us to write our thoughts about what we read. There are different themes, and the first 14-day plan we completed was actually about marriage and staying connected. You could do something similar by playing a multi-player game where you share scores, or even by using Fitbits and tracking activity. Anything that you can do together even when you’re not physically together keeps that connection strong.
Make intimacy a priority.
Whenever we are in the same room at the same time, my husband and I are hugging, kissing, and just generally being physically close to each other. Even on nights when we’re tired, if we both end up in the bed at the same time, we make love. The physical connection is one of the first things to go when couples get overwhelmed. Making intimacy and physical touch — whether it’s sex or holding hands or a short back rub — a priority helps us to connect emotionally during the time we need it most.
Commit to making date nights happen.
With two little kids and things to do just about every single weekend, it’s hard to find time just for us. We had to make a pact that we’re going to go out together at least twice a month no matter what. That might mean that we skip church and get coffee together since we can drop the kids off for Sunday School, or we beg my brothers or in-laws to babysit for a couple of hours on a weeknight. We make sure to maintain all of our other obligations, and we put date nights right up there with them.
Cook dinner together.
Neither my husband or I particularly love to cook, but we have a lot more fun when we do it together. We might cook a southern fried chicken dinner, or a Chinese food feast complete with homemade eggrolls depending on our mood. It slows us down, helps us remember how to work together as a team, and always leaves us feeling closer.
Write a note (or a poem) and leave it for your spouse to find.
I’m grateful that we’re able to rely on technology to stay connected, but a handwritten note feels extra special. If I have to go out of town, I’ll leave a little note for my husband to find while I’m away. He’s been known to write little poems for me, and they always put a smile on my face. It doesn’t take a lot to let your spouse know you care about them, even when things are chaotic.
Life is no less overwhelming now than it was at the beginning of the year. We probably have more on our plates now. We’re committed to staying connected through it all. There are times when we aren’t looking out for each other as much as we should be during this hectic season in our lives because we’re still human. We’re dedicated to our marriage and to each other, though, so we always get back on track. In fact, my husband is the reason I’m even able to make it through the overwhelm, and I know I’m the same for him. Staying connected isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s absolutely critical.