Guest Blogger LindsAy Harrel: Five Ways to Intentionally Connect With Your Spouse

by | Guest Blogger | 23 comments

I met LindsAy Harrel online through my blog hopping. She read my first book, but mentioned I misspelled my main character’s name–LindsEy. So since then, I’ve made sure to emphasize the correct spelling in LindsAy’s name. LindsAy is a sweetheart with a love for Jesus and her husband.

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.A. in English. In her current day job as a curriculum editor for a local university, Lindsay helps others improve their work and hones her skills for her night job—writing inspirational contemporary fiction. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of five years and a golden retriever puppy in serious need of training.

~*~

My husband and I have been married for five and a half years, but it hasn’t taken us long to figure out an important truth about marriage: it’s much easier to drift apart than stay connected.

Oh sure, when you first get married, it’s easy to stay connected because you want to spend every waking moment together. But once the honeymoon is over, you simply can’t. There’s work (bummer!), maybe school, church, volunteer opportunities, you name it—and it’s easy to start drowning in the sea of responsibilities.

That’s how it was for us. Nine months after we got married, Mike started law school. Talk about busy! Pretty much the only time we saw each other that first year of school was maybe fifteen minutes a day when we scarfed down dinner so he could get to the library and study.

Then, during his third year of school, I decided to go to grad school in the evenings and work during the day.

Needless to say, we were busier than we’d ever been. And our relationship suffered.

No, we didn’t fight a ton and duke out our differences. Instead, we didn’t talk much at all. We were too busy. But that was the problem. Our goals were noble and our intentions were right, but we weren’t prioritizing one of the most important things in our life: our marriage.

With the encouragement of our mentors, we realized this and did something about it. Here are some things we did—and continue to do—to stay intentionally connected to each other:

Eat dinner together. It sounds simple but just taking 30 minutes out of your day to be a family and talk about what’s going on in your life is huge in staying connected.

Meet annually with mentors for a “marriage checkup.” We are fortunate to have a mentor couple we meet with once a year who ask us questions about all aspects of our marriage in order to get an honest picture of how we’re doing. It takes a lot to be vulnerable in front of someone else, but it also has helped to prevent some issues that could have blown up.

Plan creative dates—and put them on the calendar in advance. Mike and I alternate who plans the dates, and we do them once a month. These don’t have to be expensive at all. The emphasis is on creativity. In my opinion, date nights are one of the most vital things for a marriage. Fight for that time! Do everything in your power to make it happen. And once the dates are on the calendar, don’t let anything get in the way.

Do something special for your anniversary. Obviously, whatever you do depends on your budget and your situation, but whether you stay overnight at a hotel, cook a fabulous meal at home, or eat out at your favorite restaurant, do something special to commemorate the vow you took.

Pray for your spouse. Almost nothing I do makes me feel as close to Mike as when I pray for him. Nothing.

Last August, I finished school. Finally, we’re back to both “just working day jobs.” Of course, I’m still pursuing my dream of writing and we haven’t even had kids yet, so life has the potential to get really busy again.

But now I can say, regardless of how busy we get, we’ve got a plan to stay connected. And I indeed to stick to it.

Question For You: What tips do you have to stay connected to your spouse? If you aren’t married, what awesome examples have you seen from those you know who are married?

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23 Comments

  1. Lindsay Harrel

    So fun to be here today, Lisa! Thanks so much for having me. 🙂

    • Lisa Jordan

      LindsAy, I’m so thrilled to have you as my guest blogger today. Thank you for the truth you shared. I agree with the suggestions you offered. Taking time for each other is essential to maintain the closeness in your marriage.

  2. Kathy Shearer

    Great points, Lindsay! And you’re absolutely right – it is SO easy to accidentally disconnect. My hubby and I try to do creative things together- glass blowing and painting on canvas in our kitchen are a couple of our latest adventures. It’s relaxing and fun- but creative and helps us converse without thinking of all of the day-to-day stuff!

    • Lindsay Harrel

      What fun, Kathy! I didn’t know you had that talent as well as puppy raising. 🙂 There’s nothing better than being creative together. Thanks sooo much for stopping by!

    • Lisa Jordan

      Kathy, glass blowing sounds like a wonderful activity to do together. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. Pat Trainum aka P. T. Bradley

    Hey Lindsay, it’s great to learn a little more about you…I “see” you all the time commenting on the same blogs you do.
    Great advice, too. Making the time to connect with your spouse is probably the most important thing in a marriage…right after God.

    • Lisa Jordan

      Pat, isn’t it funny how we get to know others as they comment on the same blogs we do?? That’s how I “met” several of my online friends.

    • Lindsay Harrel

      Pat, I know, I see you all the time too! Will you be at ACFW? If so, I hope we get to meet. 🙂

      And I agree: my priorities are God first then my marriage. If God is first in both of our lives, he is there in the marriage and is the foundation. It’s awesome!

  4. Keli Gwyn

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Lindsay. Staying connected with one’s spouse is vital. It can be hard to do in our go-go world, so your advice to make time for one another a priority is spot on.

    • Lindsay Harrel

      I know I am just so busy…but those things come and go. But my marriage is a constant, something really worth investing time in!

  5. Heather Day Gilbert

    Great post, Lindsay, and I can relate to the law school marriage! Married my hubby at the end of his 2nd year (and I mean, right before exams! AGH!). I’ve matured quite a bit since those newlywed years, but I can say that we still can’t be around each other enough! Even though our date nights are sporadic, we hang out as much as we can, even if it means watching our fave TV series together on Netflix (went through all the seasons of Psych!). Fifteen years married, and I wouldn’t go back to those newlywed years for anything–we know each other so much better now.

    Thanks for the good advice! I’m all for making marriages work!

    • Lindsay Harrel

      Oh my goodness, second year is brutal (but not as much as the first!). I never saw my hubby during exams. He went away into his office or to the library and only came out for food. 😉

      And we love Psych! It is one of our favorite shows.

  6. Loree Huebner

    Great tips, Lindsay!

    I love your statements about – “prioritizing one of the most important things in our life: our marriage.” AND staying “intentionally connected to each other” – so important.

    This month, Eric and I celebrate 25 years of marriage. Love and trust have seen us through. I know he’s always got my back.

    Great post!

    • Lindsay Harrel

      Wow, congrats on 25 years! That’s amazing and definitely rare in today’s world, unfortunately. Mike and I are working on 6 years, and I still can’t believe how quickly the time flies.

  7. Jessica R. Patch

    Wonderful post, Linds! Making a conscious effort to stay connected is vital! We do date nights at least once a month. It might be expensive, but usually it consists of a night out at our favorite inexpensive restaurant and the rule is: NO CELL PHONES (and no words with friends…he plays it;I don’t.) 🙂

    • Lindsay Harrel

      I like that rule!!! I may have to steal that one… 😀

  8. Jeanne T

    Lindsay, great suggestions for keeping a marriage strong! You’re so right, it’s easy to disconnect. When kids come it just happens in different ways than before kids.

    My honey and I have worked to keep date nights as a part of our schedule. It’s been a little crazy recently, but your post reminds me we need to re-establish that pattern consistently in our marriage.

    Earlier in our marriage, my hubby and I would have “cuddle time” on our couch when he got home from work and share about our days together. Now, sometimes, I just need to cuddle with him, with popcorn (homemade) and a movie. We don’t always talk a lot but just his nearness fills up some of those places that feel empty.

    Being a writer, I find myself thinking through movies. 🙂 My honey has started it too. He’s the best.

    • Lindsay Harrel

      Jeanne, I love to cuddle with my honey too!! Nothing better than feeling tucked in his arms and totally safe. Sigh. 🙂

  9. Gabrielle Meyer

    Great advice and tips, Lindsay! I have a friend whose marriage did not make it through those tough grad school years, so I commend you for sticking it out and learning how to make your marriage work. Everything you’ve pointed out is excellent, I especially love the idea of having a mentor couple to check in with. Not only does it keep you accountable, but it also teaches you in so many ways.

    As a wife, one thing I’ve learned is to respect my husband and to praise him for the things he does for us. In the summer he works long hours and instead of complaining (which I’d like to do some days!), I thank him for his hard work. After a long day working out in the sun, the last thing he wants to do is come home to a crabby wife! In return, he’s quick to praise me, as well. Just today he told me how good I look (I’m trying to take off a couple more “twins” pounds.) His comment gave me more will power to stick to my exercising and healthy eating plan. I hope my kiss and cheery mood set him up for a good day at work.

    • Lindsay Harrel

      Aw, Gabe, that’s awesome! I know one of my good friends even makes sure she takes 5 minutes before her hubby gets home from work to brush her hair, put on a little blush, and make sure she looks nice…AND leaves what she’s doing to go over and kiss him when he comes home. I think it’s done a lot to show him he’s a priority in her life, even when she’s going crazy with house stuff and little kids clinging to her legs. 🙂

  10. Ava Jenkins

    You have learned a lot, Lindsay in those five years. My husband and I weathered a long distance relationship for two years while I was away at college. Little things he did, like poems, letters and flowers meant so much to me and kept us close. We’ve been married 30 years and we both work at carving out “together time” to re-connect. That can be sitting together on the porch swing or cuddling with him on the couch. I am truly a believer in going to bed at the same time. Kids are in bed and lots of quiet. It is prime discussion time!

    • Lindsay Harrel

      I love that idea, Ava. Mike and I aren’t always great at that, so I’ll have to work toward doing that!

  11. Jessica Nelson

    These are awesome tips. My hubs and I like to watch movies together, go out to eat or just talk. It’s definitely challenging but we try our best! Thanks for sharing your heart and advice. 😉