During the early months of our first year of marriage, there were times when we felt like two separate people living in the same house who casually interacted with one another. Mornings were quiet with pages turning and breakfast dishes clinking. Daylight hours were spent working. Evenings were filled with washing dishes, loud vacuums, building websites, video games, youth group, and scrolling on our phones. Except for work hours, we spent nearly every moment together.
And yet, our interactions were vague and surface level. The response to the usual question, “How was your day?” was the typical answer, “Good,” and nothing more. Our discussions consisted of strange things our dog did, complaints about the internet, and minor commentary while we played Scrabble. Meanwhile, one of us may be feeling the crushing weight of sadness, anxiety, or bitterness, but those true feelings only became apparent during arguments. “Why are you so upset all of sudden?” wasn’t the right question. A better question was, “How long have you felt this way?” Even small issues festered into rotting sores.
When we were engaged, the times we had in person or through a computer screen were precious, and we spent that time discussing our day, what we were learning in church and Bible study, and the struggles we were experiencing. We looked forward to the time when we would be together and have no lack of quality time. But a few months into marriage we felt more distant from each other than we had during our engagement when I was an entire province away from him.
During a quiet evening at home, I sat on the couch with my husband and expressed the distance I felt was growing between us. Neither of us knew how to fix the problem, but we began brainstorming what the problems were and making solutions. At first, our solutions were extreme: I deleted social media apps from my phone, and he decided to put away his video games. But cutting out the “noise” didn’t solve the ultimate problem—the lack of communication. At that point, we realized that we needed to be intentional in setting aside time to give one another our undivided attention and fostering open conversations.
Why Is This So Important?
When you spoke your vows to your husband (perhaps with tear-filled eyes) and the minister pronounced you husband and wife, you became one. This is not a new phenomenon; it began in Genesis when God created woman.
“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24 NASB
We are now one, husband and wife. But just because we are unified before God, does not mean we automatically act that way all the time; we argue over money matters, we become frustrated with one another’s habits, and we roll our eyes and make snide comments toward each other. Our position is still one flesh, but our actions must match that position.
Acting like one in marriage means open and honest communication, putting off the distractions and seeking to know each other truly. Though you have already won over your husband’s affections, you can still pursue him in love. Marriage doesn’t automatically give you full knowledge of your husband.
Our lives can become filled with responsibilities, tasks, and the like, and although we may be doing all these things together, that doesn’t mean we are actually growing and communicating through all of them. That is where we need to set aside intentional time.
What Does Quality Time Look Like?
My husband and I chose to set aside Monday nights to spend time together. Though what we do varies, there is one thing we rarely do: Use our phones. We might look something up quickly or accept an important text message or phone call, but in general, we put our phones off to the side so that we can focus on one another.
We also avoid doing “work” type activities. Back when I was first building my website, our nights were filled with setting up website themes, creating graphics, and coding colors. Some people may be able to bond over something like this, but for us, it was tiring work that became more frustrating than enjoyable.
As for what you do, that will vary from relationship to relationship. How do you bond best? What activities do you enjoy doing together? Sometimes we go for a walk on the local beach, play a board game together, or bake. You don’t need to spend $100 going out for a fancy meal to spend time together. You can find fun and low-budget activities to do in your home (that’s what I prefer). The only criteria is that you have fun and actually enjoy what you are doing together.
Make it a priority to move past simple conversation to discuss your walk with the Lord, what you struggled with this week, what you noticed he did well with this week, or something you read this week that stayed in your mind. Though it’s important that you are communicating well throughout the week, this day presents an opportunity to do so more deeply. How has your husband’s week been? Find out what he has learned through his time in the Word this week, and share what you have learned. If you don’t know what meaningful things to discuss, maybe you could find some fun and serious conversation starters to discuss with your husband. This time is about having fun and living up to your position as one flesh.
I first scoffed at the idea of planning out specific time to spend with my husband, especially as newlyweds. But time slips away sometimes, and evenings are easily booked up with good things. It’s important that we are making intentional time together a habit now before more responsibilities are added. In this way, we are building our marriage stronger, and in turn, we become a better example of the gospel. When my husband and I were arguing and not communicating, our marriage did not exemplify Christ’s loving relationship with the church. But when we began listening to one another and deliberately putting time into one another, our human love could more easily point to our gracious Savior who saved sinners such as us.
Questions for Reflection and Next Steps:
- What ways could you be more intentional with your husband this week?
- How can you pursue him and learn more about him?