In the United States, February 14 is Valentine’s Day. For some, this might be their wedding anniversary or a day to spend with their spouse celebrating their relationship. But for others, it’s a reminder that they aren’t in a life-giving relationship. February 14 rips open the wound in their heart, and they feel less-than, unlovable, and cast aside.
You can feel unloved and disconnected when married.
February 14, 2008, was a non-day for me. Dave and I were barely into our recovery. I struggled with deep depression and was in a spiritual crisis. Dave struggled with shame and guilt. We’ve talked about it because neither of us remembers much about that Valentine’s Day.
How do you celebrate reconnection on Valentine’s Day when life feels painful?
1. Ask great questions.
When there’s pain and disconnect with your husband, you tend to communicate less. Any conversations you have are about necessary items, such as the dog’s vet appointment; who will take Johnny to soccer practice and Julie to piano lessons; bills. Setting aside time to talk with each other on more than a surface level often gets shoved aside. However, building authentic communication takes intentionality. This means scheduling time to ask great questions that go beyond the surface. Try these:
- How are we doing?
- How are you doing?
- What is one thing you wish I understood about you?
- What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever told me?
- What is something you wish you could do-over?
2. Cheer for your spouse.
Too often, we don’t celebrate wins with or for each other. What would it do for your marriage relationship if you shared your successes and struggles? Could you be your husband’s most ardent cheerleader? What if he was yours? How would that change things in your relationship? You and your husband are on the same team, fighting on the same side. I hope. If you aren’t, what needs to happen to get on the same team? Simple words of affirmation do wonders for your relationship. Express gratitude for something he did. Then watch what happens in your thoughts and emotions and his actions.
3. Work on something together.
Every home has projects to complete. Identify something you could do over the weekend and finish. Or volunteer at a local charity you both believe in. Working together creates a different type of communication. You have the same goal, and completing it together brings fulfillment. This also helps you practice being on the same team.
4. Schedule no-technology time.
Did you break out in a sweat thinking about this? Not surprising. In our techno-dependent world today, deliberately disconnecting feels unnerving. But the greatest gift we give each other is full, uninterrupted time. During this time, practice active listening and truth-telling. We don’t get this gift often. Therefore, set aside 30 minutes to intentionally reconnect with your husband this week.
5. Speak affirmations to each other.
Deliberately finding something to praise your spouse about forces you to look beyond your pain. Think of this as practicing gratitude. When we were in the initial recovery stages, our team challenged us to find three things daily about each other for which we were thankful. At first, this feels difficult and awkward. But, as Dave and I continue this practice, I find it easier and more natural. These can be simple things: thanks for opening the door for me or helping me get the trash out. Practicing affirmations enables you to tune in to your husband, to remember why you married him.
6. Engage in a new activity together.
Have you always wanted to learn to SCUBA dive? Schedule some lessons. Is there a restaurant you’ve wanted to try? Perfect for your next date night. If you don’t have regular date nights, now is an excellent time to start. Read a book that interests you both. Talk about the book over a cup of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or your favorite beverage. Focus on doing something together that sounds interesting.
7. Practice non-verbal communication.
During our recovery, willingly reaching out to hold Dave’s hand took effort. We worked hard on our verbal communication, but touch was also necessary. One of the steps of intimacy involves non-sexual touch. As you sit close together while watching a movie, hold hands at random times, or even brush arms throughout the day, your body remembers how to connect.
These suggestions might feel overwhelming when the wound is deep. You might not want to celebrate reconnection.
Get professional help from a Christian marriage and family therapist if that’s your story. If you need some recommendations, please let me know. Dave and I are so thankful for our counselor and coaches who walked through our recovery with us. We had no idea how to deal with the bombshell caused by his porn addiction revelation and then my suicidal depression. We needed help and received it.
Every marriage experiences blah times. When you recognize the distance between the two of you, it’s time to take action. Use one or more of these ideas to help you reconnect. Need more help? Please reach out. We’ll work on a solution together.