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When you got married, did you imagine endless conversations and an unending exchange of thoughts, ideas, dreams, and emotions? Fast forward a few years down the road and now you find yourself sitting in the bed or eating a meal together in sheer silence, feeling disconnected from each other…

Finding yourself in this place isn’t that unusual. Many couples experience times in their marriage where the talking to each other seems to stop. However, like anything else in marriage, conversations do take a little extra intentionality than when you first began. To start talking again, it helps to understand some of the reasons you may have stopped talking in the first place.

Here are 10 reasons couples stop talking and a few ways you can spark the conversations again:

1. You’re just out of words.

It’s easy to run out of things to talk about. At times it’s okay not to be talking each other’s ears off.

The ebbs and flows of marriage will often self-correct this situation. Conversation starters can begin casual conversations that get you below the surface and learning new things about your spouse. Sometimes sitting and simply enjoying each other’s presence, taking a stroll down memory lane, or embarking on new adventures all aid toward a new batch of conversation.

2. You’re tired and busy.

Life stacks up, and all of a sudden you find yourself lying in bed at the end of the day too exhausted to connect. 

Stop, take a timeout, gain control of your schedule, and consider your priorities. Give yourselves the margin to gain your energy back and reconnect again.

3. You’re tired of having the same conversation over and over again with no resolution.

You know the argument… the one that never ends and neither of you can seem to agree or feel heard. You both feel like your feelings are being invalidated. This affects anything else you talk about, causing tension to build. Instead of saying the same things over and over, you choose to remain silent.

Giving attention to make sure you’re addressing the real issue and not just the symptoms may be the first step in removing the roadblock to your communication.

4. You live separate lives.

You work, exercise, talk to your set of friends, and golf. Your partner works, is a wine-tasting connoisseur, talks to their set of friends, and plays video games. You’re not sharing time, experiences, or interests.

Begin doing something together: cooking, hiking, puzzles, learning a new skill together, etc. It sparks conversations, creates memories, and cultivates curiosity in your relationship..  

5. There’s a lack of emotional safety in your relationship.

You don’t feel cared for or like you matter. When you do share, you feel judged, misunderstood, criticized, or dismissed. To prevent experiencing the sense of rejection, you shut down.

Have an open, honest conversation about how you’re made to feel when you share. Gently give specifics about comments made or expressions that hurt. Share with your spouse what an emotionally safe space feels like.

6. No one is taking the first step.

Neither of you wants the responsibility of initiating a conversation about what may be causing the lack of communication.

Choose to take the lead in meaningful conversation. Just like leading a dance, when one person leads, the other typically falls into rhythm and follows along.

7. Technology has taken over.

Distracted by the phone, social media, and all the technology trappings? 

Consider phone-free and tech-free time just for the two of you to connect.

8. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room.

There’s a topic that needs to be brought out in the open, and it’s causing the potential for any other point of connection to be shut down. 

There’s only one solution for this: have the hard conversation; but, make a commitment to discuss it in a healthy,  respectful way. Remember to affirm each other’s opinions and feelings. 

9. One of you is an introvert and the other is an extrovert.

If an extroverted partner doesn’t leave room for the introvert to talk… pretty soon, the introvert just gives up.

Discuss each other’s communication styles and how you can ensure that both of you have your thoughts and feelings heard and understood. 

10. There is anger or unresolved conflict present.

Something has happened in the past which causes you or your spouse pain. And this pain short-circuits any kind of meaningful conversation you could have with your spouse. 

Whatever has happened needs to be addressed in a safe environment. Each person’s pain needs to be validated. Seeking professional help may be the best option. 

There are lots of reasons why couples stop talking, but you don’t want this to become the norm. You are always in the process of either connecting or disconnecting in marriage; there’s no such thing as maintaining the status quo. Reflect back on why you married your spouse in the first place and become a student of your spouse; there is always more to learn about them, and therefore, always more to talk about. 

Understanding the reason you stopped talking in the first place can be the first step to reconnecting again. Ironically, talking together about why you aren’t talking can be the start of a beautiful dance. The goal to reconnect on a deeper level just might be, at the moment, the one thing both of you can talk about.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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I don’t know if I can keep doing this (marriage) much longer.” I said this statement at one point in my marriage and my wife of sixteen years has said it, too. I’ve also spoken with plenty of couples who have said things like this at some point in their marriage.

There are some commonalities research has shown can help save your marriage when it feels like it is falling apart.

Connect regularly with people who are happily married.

Notice I didn’t say perfectly married. Look for couples who are healthy. Invite them to coffee and dessert. Talk to them. Listen to them. Watch how they interact with each other. Pick their brains. Find people who will hold you accountable, not pick sides. People outside of your marriage often will see things about you that are difficult for you to see about yourselves

And disconnect from people who are not for your marriage.

People that will allow you to continually talk about what’s wrong with your spouse and constantly tell you that you’re better off without your spouse are not going to be helpful in saving your marriage.

Seek help.

There are experiences available for couples facing distress in their marriage. Some places offer classes; others have Intensive Experiences available (DivorceBusting.com, WinShape Intensives, Smalley Institute). First Things First also has free resources to use in the comfort of your own home. Additionally, you may want to find a good marriage counselor to help you walk through your issues. If there is one thing I have learned in my own marriage, it’s the longer you wait to ask for help, the harder it is to ask for help. Put your pride aside and ask for the help you need if you are currently struggling. 

Look at Your Perception of Your Marriage.

New research indicates that how you perceive the relationship and your partner’s commitment to it is the biggest predictor of the quality of your relationship. Think through what you perceive about your spouse and their commitment level. The research says that your perception accounts for nearly 50% of your relationship satisfaction. When we focus on the negative things our spouse does, we train our brain to see the negative

Communication.

Communication has always been the issue married couples say they struggle with the most. It can be frustrating when you feel like you’re never able to address and resolve the real issues because the two of you can’t figure out how to effectively express your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Since many of us marry someone with a different communication style, learning to speak, hear and be heard has proven to be less natural than we expected. I was married 7 years before I learned how to effectively communicate with my wife. It was a skill I had to learn. I had been repeating the same communication mistakes over and over. 

★ These 7 keys to communication really helped my marriage.

Don’t be afraid to lead the dance.

Yes, it takes two people to dance, but one to lead. Michele Weiner-Davis, marriage expert and author of Divorce Busting, tells couples, “If your spouse started paying more attention to you, making suggestions about trips you could go on, new hobbies you could do together, how would you be different in return?” Most say, “I would be nicer.” Then Weiner-Davis asks people to describe the ways in which they would be nicer and encourages them to start doing that immediately. So many spouses stand around waiting for the other person to just do something. If you want things to be different, don’t be afraid to make the first move.  

Don’t wait for your partner to be more likable – you be more likable,” Weiner-Davis says. “Ask yourself in what ways have you pulled back from your relationship. Your partner’s distance might be the result of you pulling away, too.”  

Practice good self-care.

Taking care of yourself can improve your marriage. Be active by pursuing interests like gardening or biking. Read some good books and practice mindfulness. By paying attention to your mental health, your perspective will often improve.

Think about your daily interactions with your spouse.

Dr. John Gottman, researcher and marriage therapist recommends a 5:1 ratio of interactions – meaning for every negative interaction you have with your spouse, you need five positive interactions to balance that one negative interaction. Expressing affection, showing appreciation, and doing small acts of kindness are positive interactions which balance the negative ones. 

Talk to each other about your needs.

When we have needs and expectations that arent being met, resentment builds. Sometimes our partner is left to figure out the expectations because they are left unspoken. Sincere, honest communication about your needs and expectations takes the guesswork out of the marriage. And, it can shed light on expectations that just aren’t realistic at the moment.

Acknowledge what you can’t fix.

Dr. John Gottman’s research has uncovered that 69% of issues in relationships are unresolvable. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just is. Some common differences include disciplining children, balance between home and work, and political views. Learning to communicate and manage these differences can provide opportunities for marital growth. Besides, who wants to be married to someone who is exactly like them in every way?

Forgiveness.

It has been said that lack of forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself as well as your mate. The act of forgiveness does not mean you condone hurtful actions; it does mean you have made an intentional decision to move on. 

Remember, you are on the same team.

At some point you began to feel like you are adversaries. Instead of attacking one another, attack the issues as two people working together on the same team. The outcome may really surprise you.

★ Saving a marriage that is falling apart is 100% possible. It will take courage, work and intentionality. Rebuilding trust, seeking to understand one another, and cultivating a culture of appreciation is a process accomplished through many small steps over time. 16 years into our marriage, we’d both tell you our feelings of despair early in the marriage were the catalyst for intentionally creating the marriage we want. 

And, we are still working on it today. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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It started with a simple question from my son at the dinner table. “Can I invite a few friends to go to Six Flags Amusement Park with me for my birthday?” Would it end up as a fight in front of the kids?

Mom: That should be fun. How many friends are you thinking about?

Son: Two.

Mom: Sounds like a good idea.

Dad (Me): Hmmm. I’m not so sure that’s a good idea right now.

Mom: Really. Why not?

Dad: Have you looked at the cost for one person to go to Six Flags? Let alone 3 or 4. Have you looked at our bank account lately?

Mom: How many times does our son turn 10 years old?

At this point, we had a decision to make… 

  1. Do we continue this disagreement that was morphing into an argument in front of our kids? 
  2. Should we squash the conversation until we could get behind closed doors? 

We both were starting to recognize that we felt strongly about our opinions. Internally, we were questioning the next step of the discussion and asking,”Should we have this fight in front of the kids?”

I’m going to jump in with how we fight, or put another way, resolve disagreements and conflict in front of our children, if that’s where you find yourself. It is inevitable that you and your spouse will have a disagreement in front of your kids. How you handle these disagreements can have a great impact on them. 

If you choose to work through conflict with your spouse in front of your kids, here are a few tips:

1. Respect, Respect, Respect

  1. There is never a time when it’s okay to disrespect one another’s thoughts, feelings or desires regardless of how emotional you get or how strongly you feel about a particular issue. 
  2. It’s even worse to disrespect one another in front of your children. 
  3. We disrespect when we belittle one another’s thoughts, are dismissive of each other’s emotions and devalue each other’s desires. 
  4. Respecting one another is more important than coming to the “right” solution. 
  5. Dr. Adam Grant, a psychologist at the Wharton School and New York Times best-selling author states that, “When parents disagree thoughtfully and respectfully, that sets a standard for kids to learn to do the same thing.” 
  6. Your children are learning how to treat other people they disagree with based on what you show them.

If you realize you have disrespected your spouse, it’s important that you not only apologize to your spouse, but that you also talk with your children about it. They must understand that disrespect is not acceptable.

2. “I,” not “You.”

I could’ve said to my wife, “You don’t know how much money is in the bank.” But I could have also said, “You care more about him having fun than about us being responsible.” In that instance, I’ve attacked her and assumed what she knows or cares about. Dr. John Gottman, marriage therapist and researcher says, “When you start sentences with ‘I’ you are less likely to seem (or be!) critical, immediately putting your partner into a defensive position.” Instead of starting with “You,” I can say, “I’m concerned that paying for this trip may not leave us enough money for other necessary and important things.” 

☆ Focusing on what you know, think, feel, and want as opposed to making statements about what you believe your spouse knows, thinks, feels, and wants leads to better communication and understanding during conflict.

3. Avoid statements like, “You always,” or, “You never.

Statements like this make generalizations about a person’s character, placing the focus on them and putting them on the defensive while taking the focus away from the issue. 

4. Tone of Voice and Body Language Matter… a lot.

I encourage you to stop and watch kids talk and interact sometime. Many talk with their hands, give colorful facial expressions, their tone gets high when they’re excited and loud when they’re upset. This is the lens through which your child sees your body language and hears your tone of voice. Not to mention that research says 93% of communication is made with body language and tone of voice and only 7% are the actual spoken words. Avoid eye-rolling, sighing heavily like you’re disgusted, slumping your posture like you don’t care or rolling your neck like you have a bad attitude. Your children are reading each of the cues you’re sending.

5. Be clear to your children when it’s resolved.

Your child is processing what they see and hear. If they hear the conflict and are never privy to the solution, then you’ve left their imagination to wonder. Research by Dr. Rebecca Brock, assistant professor at University of Nebraska, indicates that unresolved marital tension can lead to children experiencing anxiety, depression, and distress

This may cause children to feel extremely insecure. 

If your child sees the two of you arguing, be sure they know and see that you’ve resolved the issue. Even if it’s just to say, “I know you heard us arguing earlier. I just want you to know that we figured it out and everything is good now.” The details of the solution may not be necessary to share. But the acknowledgment that the argument is not going to tear you apart helps bring closure for the child.

How Not To Fight

  • Never attack one another physically or emotionally. That’s domestic violence
  • Don’t manipulate, intimidate, or threaten your spouse. Threatening to walk out, leave the marriage, or do something that is hurtful or permanent can leave scars that wound for years.
  • Never put the kids in the middle of your argument. They should not be choosing sides or used as a pawn to help you win your argument.

What Not To Fight About In Front Of The Kids

There are some things that are simply a bad idea to argue about in front of the kids.

  • Sex
  • In-laws
  • Discipline

If you’re going to fight in front of the kids, then you should definitely make up in front of the kids. (No, not that kind of “make up.” Shame on you! 😳 ) A hug and a kiss in front of the kids is plenty. Verbally affirming your love, respect, and commitment for one another also sends the message that your commitment to one another is bigger than the disagreement. Arguing in front of your children can be damaging to them, especially when it’s not done in a healthy and productive manner. 

Model Healthy Conflict Resolution.

Studies show that your children can learn healthy conflict resolution skills when you model it for them. How you treat one another, including when you disagree, provides an example for how a couple communicates respect and acceptance. You’re also modeling how to effectively deal with your emotions and appreciate others emotions. These are all skills that will definitely be useful as your child engages in relationships throughout their life.

My son did get to go to Six Flags. After listening to me and his mother talk about our thoughts and feelings regarding the gift and adding up the cost, he had a greater appreciation for his gift. Did he know that I was not the one in support of the trip? Maybe, but I don’t think it bothered him as he, I, and his other friend rode the roller coasters. He also learned that his parents can disagree, both have strong opinions, and still love, respect, and remain committed to one another

★ What do you want your kids to learn when they see you fight?

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

When trust is broken within a marriage, rebuilding it cannot automatically be assumed. Many times you can rebuild trust if both parties are willing to do the work necessary to restore it, though. David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge says, “(trust) is a confident belief in someone or something. It’s the confident belief in an entity to do what’s right and to deliver on what is promised and to be the same every time, whatever the circumstances.” Whether it’s due to infidelity, lies, withholding information, or betrayal, the ability to believe the offender will genuinely act in the best interest of the marriage is severely compromised.

🔎 While there are no guarantees the trust may be rebuilt, there are some things you can do to rebuild it. 

For The Person Who Has Broken The Trust:

Here are some principles which may help to restore your partner’s trust.

1. Listen without being defensive.

Broken trust is more than just the act that was committed. Your spouse has invested time, emotion, and their own vulnerability into believing something about you, but now they’re not sure who you are. Their image of you has been tarnished. There is an uncertainty and even a fear that you will emotionally hurt or betray them if it means getting what you want. It’s not simply that you hid money, lied, or had an affair. It causes one to question their own choice to emotionally invest in the relationship. Don’t minimize or oversimplify the act. Lean in to listen. Ask questions to understand as fully as possible the pain that has been caused. It may hurt to hear. You will probably want to defend yourself—don’t. 

Avoid statements like, “That wasn’t my intention.” or “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” 

2. Own your actions.

Don’t attempt to justify your actions. Be honest about what you said or did. Answer your spouse’s questions honestly. You can’t worry about trying to make it not look as bad as it may seem

Avoid statements like, “All I did was…” or “It wasn’t a big deal.” 

3. Accept the emotional impact on your spouse.

You cannot control how the betrayal impacts your spouse. You also cannot foresee the gravity of its impact. Betrayal affects people in different ways due to personality, experiences, relationship history, length of relationship, etc. It is painful to know that you have caused your spouse such anger, hurt, or sadness. Trying to lessen or minimize the pain caused is more about you not wanting the guilt and less about understanding the impact of rebuilding the trust

The emotional impact is there. Respect it. Learn from it. 

Avoid statements like, “You’re taking this too seriously,” or “I didn’t think it would affect you this much.”

4. Give space for expressions of grief.

Being a safe space for your spouse to share their emotions is crucial if you want to rebuild trust. Your spouse needs the opportunity to find the words to communicate what they are thinking and feeling. (You may need to seek a qualified marriage counselor.) She may need to talk to friends. He may need to share his pain with you as he gains more and more understanding. This should never include abusive expressions

5. Apologize.

You may need to apologize more than once. You may apologize for the act itself because that’s all you understand initially. Some time later you may apologize for the real hurt it caused as you understand it or see it more.You may apologize for the way it has changed the relationship when you recognize the tension and difficulty your spouse has functioning within the marriage. Instead, be specific about what you are apologizing for. As much as you desire to be forgiven by your spouse, direct your energy toward expressing your remorse for what you’ve done. 🔎 There must be genuine remorse for the action and its effects. 

Avoid statements like, “I’ve already apologized. Isn’t that good enough?” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” 

6. Make necessary changes.

This may mean sharing passwords for social media, phones, or bank accounts. It may mean more communication about what’s happening at work. It may mean changing who you interact with and how (friends or co-workers). Being stubborn about making changes to decrease the likelihood of a repeat situation sends the message that you don’t understand the betrayal and insecurity that you’ve caused. Often, these changes can be talked through so that they are realistic changes. 

Avoid statements like, “I’ll just make sure I don’t do it again.” or “I just messed up this time. I’ve got it under control now.” 

7. Patience.

You can’t rush the process of rebuilding trust. You must respect the process. Understand that different people respond differently to betrayal. At times it may appear the relationship isn’t making any progress. Other times, it may seem as though the relationship is back to normal even though it really isn’t. Your spouse needs time to build an image of you that they can believe will genuinely try to act in the best interest of the relationship even when it’s difficult. You’re not entitled to being trusted again. Your spouse does not owe you their trust once it’s broken. With humility and compassion, take the time to earn it, and more importantly, to simply be trustworthy.

Avoid statements like, “Don’t you think it’s been long enough?” or “Are you going to hold this against me forever?

For The Person Whose Trust Was Betrayed:

What can you do to trust again?

1. Understand the difference between forgiving versus forgetting.

Forgiveness does not mean to forget or to act like it never happened. You may never forget what was done, how it made you feel, and how it affected you or your relationship. Forgiveness focuses on letting go of your feelings so that they don’t control your future actions. It’s a process. You can be fully aware and not ever have forgotten the betrayal while at the same time you may have forgiven the offender by not treating them based on the emotions the act itself caused.

Just because you forgive does not mean that you have to trust your spouse again. Kristina Coop Gordon, co-author of Getting Past the Affair says, “Forgiveness is very freeing. Just because you forgive, it doesn’t necessarily mean immediate reconciliation.” Your spouse may prove to not be trustworthy. To trust them again, you will need to forgive them, but don’t think that just because you forgive them means you have to trust them just yet. (Check out this blog about the process of forgiving your spouse.)

2. Don’t withhold your feelings.

Hiding or suppressing your feelings can lead to a host of unhealthy and negative emotions. Taking time to identify and understand the myriad of emotions you’re experiencing is good for your mental health. Don’t underestimate the value of positive friends in giving you the space to express yourself emotionally. You may need a good cry, a good scream, a good journal entry, a good venting session, etc. (A professional counselor can help you recognize and deal with your emotions in a healthy way.)

3. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed.

When trust is broken, your image of the offender is completely changed. The process of rebuilding that image and believing that the offender will genuinely attempt to always act in the best interest of the relationship is different for everyone. Rushing the process can lead to resentment or feeling manipulated. And while it’s not helpful to drag a person along just because you have leverage or power, it’s also not helpful to be told by others that you should just let it go and go back to the way it was. 

4. Communicate.

I’d love to give you a fancy term here, but sometimes simple is best. Give your spouse feedback regarding what is helpful and what is not. As you’re understanding yourself better, share this with your spouse. Talk to one another about trust, commitment, and what you believe a healthy relationship looks like. 

5. Explore.

Do not take responsibility for someone’s else’s actions. At the same time, explore what (if anything) in the relationship may have led to the betrayal. There may be changes or improvements within the marriage that can improve relationship quality

Rebuilding trust takes a commitment from both people in the relationship. Betrayal does not have to end the relationship, but the relationship may be able to improve through time, communication and understanding. There are many relationships where betrayal proved to be a catalyst for the couple to address issues in their relationship, ultimately making them stronger.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

I value my friend who reminded me that summer doesn’t end just because we start talking about our children going back to school. In fact, we are just one month into summer! Summer means different things for different people. For some, summer is about being footloose and fancy free. For others, summer is composed of trips to see family and friends. To me, summer is a time when my husband and I can do fun things together while our children spend quality time with their grandparents. And that means summer date nights!

However, this year, summer looks totally different from any other. Covid-19 has impacted many of the normal rites of passage for summer. It’s critical that we don’t allow these unusual circumstances to take ALL the fun out of summer. But I’m not going to let it—especially for me and my husband!

Here are some fun dates that every couple must do before summer ends:

Date Nights On the Town:

  1. Dessert Date. (Go get ice cream or cheesecake… and feed each other!) Start off by off by sharing your favorite desserts during this summer date! It can be anything from ice cream, cakes, pies, cupcakes, candy or delicious juicy fresh fruit (peaches, grapes, cherries, etc.). Or take it up a notch—once you have your dessert, use a sight inhibitor (blindfold) and feed each other. You have to guess what you are eating.
  2. Outdoors Date. (Hike, walk in woods, paddleboard, kayak, fishing or tubing!) Whether you like the beach or mountains, a steady lake or flowing river, getting in the great outdoors will bring you closer to nature and to each other. 
  3. Recreate Your First Date. Remember your first date? Think about the ambiance and the food. Try to recreate it at home
  4. Town Tour Date! Learn more about your community and each other by taking part in a walking tour in your hometown or somewhere nearby. Or create your own tour. Are you sure you have explored your town and each other?

At-Home Date Nights with A Meal:

  1. Have A Picnic. (In your backyard or a local park!) It can be a meal out of your kitchen or purchased from a local gourmet shoppe. Grab what you like to eat and drink and put it in a basket. Get a blanket or old comforter, then head out to your backyard, to the beach or a national or state park near you. Find the perfect spot and have your meal together.
  2. Breakfast Date. (Or dinner for breakfast… or breakfast for dinner!) Get together and create the menu for your favorite breakfast meal and have it for dinner. Or your favorite dinner and have it for breakfast. Think about it—breakfast for dinner, after DARK…

At-Home Date Nights without A Meal:

  1. Twinkle Twinkle Date. (You’re not too old for this one..)  Awake that inner child and create a fort in your living room. You know the drill—place a blanket in the middle of the floor. Put chairs around the blanket. Use sheets or blankets to create the top covering. If you have some twinkle lights or a flashlight around, use that to light up your space. (You can play a fun questioning game like Never Have I Ever or 20 Questions to learn more about each other.)
  2. Virtual Summer Date. (Click on some romance! Virtual Date Night or DIY Date!) First Things First is an organization which focuses on helping people to have healthy relationships. They have hosted virtual dates where couples learned to dance Salsa and Merengue and learned to make crêpes together. Additionally, they provide guides for DIY date nights. Check them out at FirstThings.org or on Facebook
  3. Game Night. (You don’t have to ever be board…) It’s time to dust off your favorite board or card game. Agree beforehand what the winner gets…
  4. Home Concert Date! (You don’t have to go to an arena to rock out…) For this date night, create a playlist of your favorite artist or your musical memories on a music streaming platform. It can be in your living room or under the stars in your backyard. Dance the night away in the arms of your honey. (You could even watch a concert on television and pretend that you are in the front row.)

No matter what is going on in the world, couples need to spend quality time having fun with each other. Play and fun builds intimacy and adventure in your relationship. 

Now, go have some FUN!

Image from Unsplash.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

The COVID-19 pandemic has put stress and strain on all facets of our lives, perhaps none as significantly as marriages. Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve felt this rift in your relationship with your wife, and you may be wondering, has she lost that loving feeling? And if so, what do I do?

Hope is not lost, gentlemen. Below, I offer you some ideas on how to think and what to do when you’re asking, “Does my wife love me?

Ask yourself, what do I mean by the word “love?”

Are you wondering if she isn’t committed to your marriage anymore? Or does her not loving you mean she’s acting irritable, disrespectful, or mean toward you? Or does it mean she seems distant and non-engaging? These are all very different iterations of what it may mean to feel unloved. Nail down what it is about “love” that she doesn’t seem to be delivering at the moment as you perceive it. 

Then ask, “What are the observable characteristics I’ve seen that makes me think this way?

When you’re in the same room, does she clam up and avoid talking to you? Does she not seem as interested in sex and continually reject your advances? When you try to talk about anything, does she respond negatively or withdraw? These are all observable behaviors you can see in your spouse. However, one word of caution: as you take note of the things you see, you are not stockpiling ammunition to bring down on your spouse later on. You aren’t building your argument to prove that your wife doesn’t love you. 

Rather, the purpose for noticing these behaviors is two-fold: first, it helps you consider the next bullet point below. And secondly, when it does come time to talk with your wife about your concerns (which is addressed later on), it is easier to explain to your spouse things that you “see” rather than things that you “feel.” 

Consider other factors outside of yourself that may be causing what you observe in your wife.

It’s very easy to think the issue is with you when you feel as though your wife isn’t being as loving toward you as before. But before we jump to conclusions and become defensive, we need to consider whether you see your wife acting the way she does for entirely different reasons. 

If she has been experiencing the stress, strain, and anxiety of everything going on in her world, she may not be withdrawing from you; she may just be withdrawing. 

In the words of Billy Joel, “Tell her about it.”

Bring your concerns up to her. Be sure to pick a time and place where you can focus and the air isn’t thick with tension. Ask her if this is a good time to talk or whether another time would be better. 

Be gentle and kind in your words, and avoid placing blame or assuming motives. Tell her what you observe, and use “I” statements. For example, I am concerned for our relationship. When we are in the same room, I see us not talking as much as we used to, and I feel like you’re avoiding eye contact with me. I just want to be sure I’m not doing anything that you see is a problem, or if the problem may be something else. 

And then… listen. Just listen. Ask questions. Become a passionate detective with the goal to learn and understand. And I can’t stress this enough: avoid coming off defensively. Here’s the thing: the problem may be something you’re doing or not doing. And now you’ve given her the platform to voice her issue. Hear her concern, listen to understand rather than rebut, and make it your goal to come to a resolution with her rather than to defend yourself. 

Memorize these words: How Can I Help?

If your wife indicates that you are indeed doing something (or not doing something) that is contributing to the problem, the next step is to understand what you can do differently to make your relationship stronger. 

However, it might be that those other factors mentioned above are at play. If that is the case, your job is to support. And not for the sake of “gaining her love back,” but so that your wife can be the best version of herself she can. 

Keep in mind the way you can help may simply be to be present and to listen. Guys can be fixers. We like to fix problems. Sometimes, our wives don’t want things fixed as much as they want to be understood. (I know—this seems counterintuitive to most husbands. But if we can learn this one little lesson, it changes the landscape of our marriage so much more for the better.)

Lead the dance.

The thing is, even if the issue isn’t you, and you do listen and help your wife to feel understood about what she’s feeling, there’s a possibility that she’s not going to pop back immediately into full-on love-dovey mode. Things like this take time to process and work through. Take the initiative and show her how much you love her. Speak her love language. Write her love notes, send her flowers, be extra diligent with laundry and cleaning, take the kids away from her for a while so she can rest—anything that helps her to feel loved and supported. When we lead the dance and take initiative without her having to ask, more often than not our spouse will get excited about dancing again. 

Don’t be afraid to seek help.

If you’re still questioning your wife’s love, problems persist or you find difficulty in reaching a resolution, consider seeing a marriage counselor together. And again, you might have to be the one to lead the dance and bring this up to your wife.

Fellow husbands, we are in challenging times. Our marriages are being challenged. And it may seem like your wife just isn’t that into you anymore. But hope is rarely lost. You have within your power the tools to contribute positively to your marriage, even when your spouse doesn’t seem to show the love. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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We may have just celebrated a major holiday, but why not keep the fun going? Pick a random holiday (it can be major like Christmas or something smaller like Earth Day) to celebrate together! You don’t have to wait till the actual date of that holiday, but you can recreate this DIY date night the next time the holiday comes around! Below are some examples of supplies you may use for some popular holidays, but creativity is always encouraged!

Christmas Supplies:

  • A small, wrapped gift for each other
  • Christmas lights hung in the living room or bedroom
  • Your traditional Christmas meal for dinner
  • Your favorite Christmas music to dance to
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • What’s your favorite holiday song?
    • What’s the best present you’ve ever received?
    • What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Valentine’s Day Supplies:

  • Chocolates (of course!)
  • Roses or other flowers
  • A romantic, candlelit meal
  • A bubble bath for two
  • Massage oils
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • When you do feel most loved by me?
    • How would you describe me in three words?
    • What is my most attractive quality to you?

Earth Day Supplies:

  • Plant flowers, trees, or veggies in your yard, garden, or on your porch
  • Pick one single-use item in your house to replace with a reusable item (plastic water bottles → reusable, getting reusable grocery bags, plastic baggies → reusable containers, etc.)
  • Make a plant-based meal for dinner
  • Go on a walk or hike in a park
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • Where is your favorite place to be outside? (Beach, Mountains, Woods, etc.)
    • If it was our last day on Earth, what would you want to do together?
    • If I were some type of plant, tree or flower, what do you think I would be?

St. Patrick’s Day Supplies:

  • Something green to wear
  • A traditional Irish meal for dinner
  • Shamrock-shaped cookies to decorate
  • Follow a video to learn a traditional Irish dance
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • If you found a pot of gold, what would you do with all that money?
    • What is your favorite St. Paddy’s day tradition?
    • If you could choose one city in Ireland to visit, what would it be?

Halloween Supplies:

  • Dress up in costume
  • Spooky music
  • Make a creepy dessert together (doing a quick Google search will give you great ideas!)
  • Look up scary stories to tell each other or watch a scary movie!
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • What’s the best costume you’ve ever dressed up in?
    • What’s the scariest experience you’ve ever had?
    • Do you believe in supernatural spirits / ghosts / demons? 

There’s just something about holidays that create an extra special experience! So take advantage of the excitement, nostalgia or novelty of doing something different with your love! Make this unique DIY date night one to remember!

Looking for more DIY date night ideas?

Check out ALL of our DIY Date Nights!

And what about something even MORE unique?

Check out our FREE Live Virtual date night events on Facebook!

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I probably drive a little faster than my wife is sometimes comfortable with (and she’s not afraid to let me know). On the other hand, she is more cautious on the road (and I don’t dare say anything from the passenger seat). 

My wife is definitely a beach person. I’m much more of a woods-and-lake kind of person. 

I binge on books. My wife binges on Netflix

Differences are often what makes marriage interesting. But there’s one difference that often shows up in marriages that causes all kinds of awkwardness, quarrels, and misunderstandings. 

That’s right: pizza toppings. 

Just kidding. The answer is sex. And more specifically, sex drives. More often than not, one person wants it more than the other. And many couples struggle to find an answer to this marital difference that seems to be as old as time. 

What do you do when your sex drives aren’t in sync? 

Marriage therapist and author Dr. Pat Love (yes, that’s her real name!) provides some insight into this question in her book Hot Monogamy. 

She introduces the concept of people who are either “sexy body” or “sexy brain” kind of people. Chances are, if there is a difference in sex drive in a relationship, then one person is more of a “sexy brain” while the other is more of a “sexy body.” 

“Sexy Body”/”Sexy Brain”

“Sexy body” people have a body that’s always ready for sex. They typically desire sex on a daily basis. Even when stressed out, they can easily be aroused, and sex even makes them feel better when in a state of stress or anxiety. “Sexy body” folks can even desire sex with their spouse in the middle of being upset with them. 

This is all a complete mystery to “sexy brain” people. And it’s easy to label those “sexy body” people as horn-dogs. But before we begin throwing labels around, it’s important to remember that, for “sexy body” people, sex is a way they feel the closest to their spouse. It’s how they connect on both a physical and emotional level. It’s a major pathway through which they experience love. 

“Sexy brain” people, obviously, are a bit different. It’s difficult for them to be sexually aroused if they are feeling stress, anxiety, or fatigue. And for many people, this equals the majority of the time. And if they are upset at their spouse, well, chances are nil that anyone is going to experience any kind of hanky-panky. 

“Sexy body” often people don’t understand this at all, and quickly jump to the conclusion that their spouse is prudish, frigid, or just plain abnormal. But not so fast. “Sexy brain” people simply have to feel a sense of connection, security, and calm in order to be more open to physical intimacy. Emotional engagement with their spouse is a prerequisite for desiring sex. 

This does not mean that “sexy brain” people don’t enjoy sex. In fact, they do. However, clearing the to-do list, getting enough rest, and feeling an emotional attachment to their spouse makes sex easier to desire and more enjoyable. “Sexy brain” people are still, well, sexy

What “sexy body” people need to remember

  • Understand that your “sexy brain” spouse is perfectly normal in how they think about sex; it’s just different from you, and differences aren’t bad. 
  • Be reasonable with your expectations. Let’s be real: you could be up for sex every time your spouse changes their socks. But this simply isn’t how your spouse operates, nor should they be pressured to operate that way. (As a matter of fact, the more “sexy brain” people are pressured to have sex, the less they want to have sex. The pressure equals stress, and stress equals no sex.
  • Learn about your spouse’s preconditions for being in the mood. How can you connect with your spouse emotionally? How can you help alleviate stress for them? And can you do these things in a way that’s sincere and not because you want to have more sex?

What “sexy brain” people need to remember

  • You have to make time for sex. Physical intimacy is an important part of the marriage relationship. Therefore, taking care of yourself means not allowing stress to become an overwhelming factor in your life. You maybe even ask for help in order to alleviate some stress and be sure you get sufficient rest. This helps in making sex more enjoyable for you. 
  • Understand that if you consistently say no to your “sexy body” spouse, it causes them to wonder if they are unattractive to you. A “sexy body” person needs to know that their spouse still thinks they’re hot stuff. And when you show them they are (at least to you), then it makes a huge difference in their esteem and confidence. Not to mention, it makes the connection between you as a couple stronger. 
  • Ask yourself, what is it your partner does that is a real turn-on? Sometimes the stress and fatigue you feel blur the attraction you actually have for your spouse. They are blockades to getting turned on. Asking this question can bring what it is about your spouse that gets your blood pumping back into clarity. 

Finally, think about this: the needs of “sexy brain” and “sexy body” people actually can work together to become more in sync with each other’s sex drives. 

Here’s what I mean. When a “sexy brain” person lets their “sexy body” spouse know they are desirable, attractive, and sexy (either by telling them or showing them by being more open to having sex), they might find the pressure to have sex is toned down.

And when the “sexy body” person is sincerely intentional about connecting on an emotional level frequently, they may find that their “sexy brain” mate is more easily aroused and able enjoy sex more. 

Wins all around. 

The key is to talk.

Communicate about your differences. Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Seek to understand what makes them a “sexy brain” or a “sexy body” kind of person. Become a student of your spouse. You just may find that your differences bring you closer together, and you can begin to work on other marital questions like what toppings you’re going to order on your pizza. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.**

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For me, it often happens in the evening (though not always). It feels like a sudden Visitor at your door who comes in unannounced and spreads an uncomfortable, heavy, warm, wet blanket over you, gradually but quickly covering your whole body, and I feel it mainly in my chest. As soon as I feel myself covered, I’m very aware of the sense of unexplained dread that’s overcome me. Often my vision narrows and it’s difficult to concentrate on what people are saying. I can feel my heart pounding. My breathing is shallow. And it’s hard not to just sit there, paralyzed, and feel intense fear for something that I don’t know how to define. 

Sometimes it takes a long while for the feeling to gradually dissipate. Other times, it just sort of leaves quickly, like it wanted to slip quietly out the back door without anyone noticing. It’s exhausting. And the most frustrating part, every time, is the nonsensical, illogical way the Visitor just comes and goes, without any sort of reason, at least none that I can think of. 

Anxiety attacks are a beast, and I’ve experienced them for years. Every time I’ve had to deal with anxiety, my wife, Kristin, has been there right beside me, walking the road. She can tell when the Visitor is at the door because she can hear me trying to catch my breath. 

Feeling anxious? 

She’ll gently ask me this, and I never find it threatening nor snarky. This is in large part due to the fact that we’ve had some very open and real discussions about what I experience. What I appreciate the most is her understanding, even though she hasn’t felt what I feel when I have these attacks. 

If you are married to someone who struggles with anxiety, you may feel powerless to help them. Kristin and I want to offer you some tools and concepts to help you be a support for the one you love most when anxiety comes bursting through the door. 

What Is Anxiety Exactly?

It helps to have a basic understanding of anxiety itself. Anxiety is actually a natural, normal process the brain goes through to help a person cope with stress. It causes an apprehension or fear of something to come, and this typically serves to protect a person from harm and danger. 

However, this process is only made to come and go as needed. It’s not meant to pop up without warning and interfere with everyday life. 

This unhealthy anxiety is ambiguous; it can feel differently depending on the person feeling it, and it reveals itself in a variety of ways. Many (like myself) feel panic attacks with no apparent reason. Others may experience a phobia of certain objects or activities. Some have an irrational fear of social situations or worry about their health. 

Researchers can’t pinpoint an exact cause of this kind of anxiety. A mix of genetics, environmental factors, and brain chemistry seems to be likely, but this doesn’t exactly narrow it down. Therefore, there are a variety of ways professionals treat anxiety, from coping exercises such as deep breathing and other lifestyle changes to therapy and medication. (The Gottman Institute offers a great article here about using mindfulness to deal with difficult emotions like anxiety.) 

This all can seem very complex to you, the spouse, who sees how anxiety is plaguing the one you love. And you might be wondering, what in the world could I ever do to help? 

What Spouses Can Do

In fact, you are not powerless to help your spouse who has anxiety. Anxiety isn’t exactly something you can “fix,” but it can be managed. And as someone dealing with anxiety, a supportive spouse is the most important person to have in your corner. 

Here are some thoughts on how to help your spouse deal with anxiety:

  • Understand that your spouse doesn’t know why they struggle with anxiety. Even if they know what triggers it, such as work deadlines or having to engage with a particular person, the feeling itself just seems irrational. Even more elusive is how to get rid of that feeling. It’d be easy to put the blame of the anxiety on the person feeling it or to say, just stop feeling that way, but this is no help. As a person who experiences this, I can tell you that if I knew what it was I was doing that caused a panic attack, I’d immediately change course. And I appreciate my wife understanding this. 
  • Be present. One of the worst feelings—over and above the anxiety itself—is watching a person leave the room because they don’t know how to help. My wife’s presence is comforting and reassuring, even if neither one of us knows how to “stop the feeling.” Sometimes Kristin, if she is doubting what she should do, will say, I’m going to stay here with you until you tell me you want to be alone. And I can honestly say I have never asked to be alone during a panic attack. 
  • Gently direct toward some healthy coping strategies (and away from unhealthy ones). Again, my wife is good at this (she’s had lots of practice). When I feel an attack coming on, she will gently and respectfully steer me in another direction, maybe to watch a TV show with her or to take a walk. She understands the need to redirect my focus. Other good coping strategies include self-care, meditation, deep breathing exercises, physical exercise, eating a healthy diet, aromatherapy (such as using candles, oil, or incense), and spending time outdoors in nature. 
  • Talking it out helps. When I feel the pressure of anxiety coming on, Kristin will often ask me if I know where it might be stemming from. Sometimes, as we talk, we can identify some possible triggers, such as an impending work deadline or an inevitable difficult conversation I need to have with another person. My wife is really good at helping me think out what’s the worst that can come out of this situation? When I verbalize with her that the worst-case scenario isn’t all that bad, it helps to alleviate the anxiety. At other times, Kristin is also very good at reading when talking may not be very productive. This is usually when I’m in full-on panic mode and I can’t think straight enough to make conversation. In this case, she helps me with other coping strategies. 
  • Encourage rest. Exhaustion and fatigue are bullies to anxiety management. Getting to bed early or taking a short power nap in the afternoon helps me (I avoid long naps because it interferes with my sleep at night). I appreciate it when Kristin guides me to make rest a priority. 
  • If anxiety persists despite using coping strategies, it might be good to encourage your spouse to seek professional help through their physician or a counselor. 

There are times when I have felt very inadequate because I didn’t know how to fix what I was experiencing. It’s easy to feel that something is “wrong” with you. And even more so, I’ve wondered just when my wife was finally going to be over me and this “problem.” 

Kristin is very quick to put me in my place (in a good way). She assures me that nothing is “wrong” with me, that she doesn’t judge or think negatively of me because of my anxiety, and that she’ll be there no matter what to help me however she can. Without that, no coping exercise, medication, or therapy session would be nearly as effective.

You are in the prime position to be the main support for your spouse struggling with anxiety. You don’t have to “do” anything about it. Simply walk the road with them. Be in their corner. Encourage them. Be understanding. And be assured that your support means the world.  

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship click here.***

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I’ve always been quite nostalgic about my traditions. For example, I’ve kept school work that I made good grades on from kindergarten through college. I’ve also left my Christmas decorations up just a little too long each year and turned birthday cards into decorations. While dating my husband, I kept every love letter he gave me (and still do). 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued some of the traditions I grew up with. And As COVID-19 and quarantine have taken us all by surprise, I’ve found my husband, Tyler, and I challenged to create some new traditions

Since we heard time and time again from couples married for a few months to 30+ years to never stop dating your spouse, we try to have a date night every week—if not every other week. My husband and I loved this advice because I’m a sentimental sap and he is definitely a charming romantic (the kind of guy who sets out a hundred candles, bakes brownies and pours a glass of wine because he knows you’re having a bad day).

I’ll be honest, COVID-19 put a wrench in our date night traditions at first. We were busy navigating a new normal and because we were spending non-stop time together, setting aside date night time didn’t cross our minds. It took us about two weeks to figure out something felt a little off. We realized we had pushed aside something we always looked forward to—dating! Since going out to dinner and some activities were off the table, we had to get creative with our date night traditions.

We didn’t want to sacrifice something that kept the spark in our relationship glowing. No matter the circumstances, for better or for worse, we needed to show each other how much we love each other. We signed up for that when we committed our lives to each other. 

Just because we are spending 24/7 together, doesn’t mean we are spending it intentionally. Especially if we weren’t differentiating quality time together (date night) from the every-day-in-house hustle. 

We have been way more creative with our date night traditions out of necessity to keep the spark in our relationship. We’ve felt closer because of that. A big change that’s happened is going from, “What kind of food are you craving?” to “What does our relationship need this week?”

Is it some carefreeness because it’s been a stressful week? Okay, turn the living room into a dance floor, move the coffee table, pull up YouTube, and learn some new moves.

Maybe we haven’t had a meaningful heart-to-heart and date night looks like turning off all electronics, lighting some candles, and having intentional conversations. Here are some conversation starters:

  1. What has been on your mind?
  2. When did you make each other laugh this week?
  3. What have you been thinking about beyond work? 
  4. Have I done anything this week to make you feel loved and is there something I can do more of?
  5. What are your dreams right now?  
  6. What can make our sex life better? How can we make each other feel confident and vulnerable?

It could be simple as we miss dressing up and getting a nice meal at our favorite place so we get takeout, use the nice plates and glasses, light some candles, and change into a nice outfit. Our new favorite spot is our patio with a speaker, candles and card-playing games. 

We have also done some really sweet virtual date nights you can do, too!

I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in expectations. “We normally do this and it works so we should do it like this again.” In these “should” moments, we don’t leave room for something new and creative to happen. Look what happened when we stepped outside of just going through the motions! 

We have had a blast being challenged to change up how we pursue each other. It’s even been good for our relationship. I hope you and yours take the time to find what works best for you. If you do, I hope you have lots of fun along the way! 

Keep dating—even while in quarantine!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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