Kick Start Closeness and Keep It Cooking

My wife and I were once close, but we’ve drifted apart over the years. There are days when we barely have anything to say to each other. How can we recapture our lost connection?

Good for you for not being satisfied with the status quo. When you’re in the midst of diapers, carpools and soccer games, you’re going to be tempted to let marital friendship fall by the wayside. But, with effort on both your parts and help from the Lord, your relationship can be renewed.

As a good starting point, consider St. John’s words to the Ephesians in Revelation 2: “You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen … and do the works you did at first.”

Think back to the days when you were dating and falling in love. What did you enjoy doing together? Make it a priority to fit some of those things back into your busy schedules. In Letters to a Young Bride, Alice von Hildebrand calls this “remembering one’s Mount Tabor experience.”

If you can recall your Bible stories, after the amazing events of the Transfiguration, the apostles didn’t want to leave Mount Tabor. They wanted to set up tents right there. When married life gets rough, von Hildebrand recommends remembering the amazing times that first brought you together, your own Mount Tabor.

Next, find a way to go to Mass together. Nothing is more unifying than sharing in the very body of Christ. When juggling babies and ferrying kids who all serve or sing at different Masses, it seems easiest to “divide and conquer” when it comes to a regular family Mass time. Trouble is, Mom and Dad can end up attending different Masses for years on end. You could also meet on weekdays for noon Mass.

In addition to Mass, find time to pray together. There are many fine Catholic couples who, though they are prayerful people themselves, find it very awkward and difficult to pray out loud with their spouses. That’s okay, but the only remedy is to just do it. Start with a familiar prayer like the Rosary, but take a few moments before each decade to offer up any special intentions. Say them out loud, and don’t be shy. Be sure one intention is for the restoration of your relationship.

In order to renew conversation, you’ll first need to generate some new, shared experiences and restore your friendship. You can’t simply decide to sit down and talk — you need something to talk about. Find a way to have a date night at least once a month. (Once a week is better.) Volunteer together for a parish activity or project. Exercise together. Agree to watch a weekly television show together.

In our season of life, with nursing babies, this mini-date night is what works for us. We tape a favorite drama every week and, after we put the kids to bed, we sit down with a snack and watch it. It’s such a simple thing, but we both look forward to these times. We find that we enjoy each other’s company.

Finally, if it remains difficult to reconnect, don’t be afraid to seek extra help through marital counseling. Many dioceses offer affordable counseling through their social-services departments or family-life offices.

The bottom line is that closeness doesn’t just happen. You have to do some things to kick it off and keep it rolling.

The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama.

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