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  • Keeping the Romance Alive through Intentional Connection

Romancing your partner is more than bringing pleasure. It’s sharing intimacy; it’s pursuing another in emotional, physical, and spiritual ways. It’s learning about the other. It’s caring for them. It’s living out a covenantal commitment.

We’ve established that intentionality is required to secure a marriage and give it the stamina for long-term endurance. How does a couple cultivate connection to secure an enduring marriage?

Make Time for Connection

It can be so easy to lose connection in marriage. Suddenly, you realize that you are coexisting, living in the same house but not truly connected. You cannot be truly known in marriage without doing the hard work to stay engaged in each other’s stories.

As life gets busier, it’s so easy for conversation to become transactional. For us, it was most noticeable when our kids started to grow up. “Who’s picking the kids up from soccer tonight?” “Did you get the email about the class party on Friday?” Oftentimes, Nina and I will fall into a pattern in which all of our time together is filled with taking care of the kids, doing house chores, or catching up on work.

Every healthy and connected couple should make it a priority to stay connected. Be a moment maker. Consider ways to make time for activities that promote the most connection.

Intentional Conversation

To ensure a connected relationship, a couple must take time daily to tune in to each other’s lives. Nina and I try to share about our day each evening while we’re putting the finishing touches on dinner. We also try to go to bed at the same time whenever possible so we can share thoughts as we settle down for the night and drift off to sleep. A couple who leads a marriage small group at our church talks about the way they practice connection time as the first thing after arriving home from work. They sit in the living room for a short time to share about their day and their boys know not to interrupt. It’s a checkpoint for their relationship and a sign of visual togetherness to their kids.

In theory, connection takes just a few minutes. However, in our home, when we try to connect with three kids, there are numerous distractions, sibling squabbles, and requests for snacks that make completion seem to take forever. But this small connection forces intimacy into our marriage. It conveys to our children that our relationship is a priority. It has inspired laughter, apologies, revelations, advice, and encouragement.

Most of us think of romance as wearing fancy clothes and eating a candlelit dinner at a nice restaurant. But romance is also humility and confession on the couch with the phone buzzing and the dog clawing at your leg. Can I get a witness?

A Physical Connection

The sense of touch is developed before we’re even born. It is the first sense that our bodies establish. A baby has pressure sensors that let them know they are safe during a comforting embrace.

You have around five million sensory nerve receptors in your skin. When those sensors are stimulated, they send electrical pulses to your neurons, which pass the electrical pulse to the spinal cord and send it up to the brain, where the signals are translated. Physical touch actually incites both a physical and mental reaction. For instance, a hug from a loved one can lower one’s blood pressure while also creating a feeling of value and importance. What’s more is that you can’t touch without being touched. A double benefit occurs in both the hugged and the hugger.

Gary Chapman's Seeds of Love
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Jesus didn’t just speak the truth of love to the people He encountered. He often brought healing through touch. At times, His touch brought a transfer of power; other times, a transfer of love; other times, a transfer of forgiveness. But His touch was a physical manifestation of an emotional or spiritual connection. There is power in touch.

Connected Eyes

Because of an increasing dependence on electronic devices, we no longer give each other adequate eye contact. Strong eye contact with our spouse makes a deep imprint.

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Psychologist and professor Arthur Aron has spent much of his career studying love and romance. He conducted a thirty-four-minute experiment with varying sets of people. One version of the experiment had two people sit together and share intimate details about life for a half hour and then stare deeply into the other’s eyes without talking for four minutes. That sounds like torture to me. Or like a bad version of the no-smiling game. Or maybe like an experiment that the majority of my guy friends would get annoyed at me for even suggesting!

The study showed that the connections were tangible. In fact, a few pairs of people went on to get married as a result of this experiment! We think that once we share intimate details from our past, we are done. But weekly intimate moments shared are constant reconnections with your spouse.

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The misconception is to believe that these moments happen only in a big gesture. While those big moments are important, it’s the little things done consistently that create true and deep connection.

When I look intently at my wife’s face, I’m reminded of her outer beauty. When I look intently into her eyes, I’m reminded of the beauty of her soul. To look into someone’s eyes is to look beyond the exterior. It’s more than a handshake. It’s an outward sign of sincere interest in the other person.

Seek Intentional Interaction

While many of us are committed to working on our fitness goals, education goals, or career goals, when it comes to building our marriage relationship, we tend to neglect the time it takes.

Make date nights a regular part of your rhythm. Predetermine a way to spend time together, just the two of you, on a regular basis. Anticipate that life’s realities will try to stand in the way of your time together. Travel schedules, work deadlines, volunteer commitments, and family needs seem to conspire to thwart your plan. But you will never regret the time you spent to build your friendship with your partner.

Adapted from Praying Circles Around Your Marriage. Copyright © 2019 Joel and Nina Schmidgall, published by Zondervan,  used with permission, all rights reserved.

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