Q: How does a person recapture the romance in a marriage? My husband and I still love each other after 20-some years together. But our life feels ... well, boring and repetitive. Do you have any advice?
Jim: Most people don't get married to work a job, do laundry or pay bills. But unfortunately, many couples' relationships end up revolving around those very things.
It happens to almost every marriage. At some point after the splendor of the wedding ceremony, life settles in to a daily grind of activity. Careers are chased; children are born; a larger home is purchased with two new cars in the garage. And slowly the romance fades. What used to be hours on the phone together and regular date nights becomes two people who talk only about practical matters, like finances or children. Eventually, the emotional connection points that used to draw the couple together disappear entirely.
Eventually, the couple discovers they no longer have an intimate relationship, but a business arrangement. Their daily energy is so devoted to the mundane responsibilities of life, they have nothing left to offer each other. It's in the wake of such difficulties that affairs can arise and divorce is considered -- all in a person's attempt to recapture the romance their life once knew.
It definitely doesn't have to be that way. You can rekindle the romance in your marriage, but it takes the same dedication that drew you together in the first place. Start dating again. Take a class together or explore a new hobby that you can both enjoy. Cook special meals for each other. Exercise together. Go to museums and concerts. Write love notes to one another. Don't just talk vaguely about that dream vacation -- plan and budget for it together, then schedule it and go.
Don't keep allowing the busyness of life to distract you from what's truly important: Connecting on an emotional level with each other and developing an intimate relationship, not just a business arrangement.
Q: My wife and I both work crazy schedules and can't be together as much as we'd like. So we text each other several times a day to say I love you. That's at least something, right?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: I commend you for your effort. At the same time, let's be honest: None of us believe "Nothing says 'I love you' like a text message."
Texts and emails are incredibly practical. They're great for staying in touch with family and friends -- or for short messages like, "Pick up some milk, please." And, sure, telling someone "I love you" is always a great sentiment, no matter how it's conveyed.
But studies show that the most meaningful expressions of love hinge on four ingredients: spoken words, body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Those are all human characteristics that no electronic device will ever be able to fully reproduce.
Research like that confirms what we all instinctively know to be true. Digital communication doesn't make us come alive like the warmth and intimacy of human interaction.
If you want your relationship to be deeply connected, don't rely on your smartphone so much. It's worth extra effort to physically spend time together whenever you can. Proactively schedule dinner or a walk through your neighborhood. Talk. Laugh. Look into each other's eyes. Even when you're apart, skip the texting when possible and actually make a call. Hear each other's voice.
Relationships have life, which is why love isn't best expressed through sterile computer code. Love flourishes in the presence of intimacy, warmth and human interaction.
We have plenty of other tips and advice available to help your marriage thrive; see FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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