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Karen Shurtz, M.F.T.

 

Reigniting the Flame

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The day you got married, a day you will never forget. A day of hope, excitement and love. When you looked into your groom’s eyes and said “I do”, you knew you would always feel madly in love with him. But then kids come, and bills need to be paid, and some of the quirks your spouse has aren’t quite as cute as you used to think they were. And the passion you felt in your relationship starts to wane. You wonder if you can ever feel the same fire as you once did. The good news is that yes, indeed you can reignite the flame in your marital relationship. It just takes some conscientious effort. Here are ten things that you can do to bring back the fervor.

1. First you need to recognize that there is a disconnect and talk to your spouse about it. If your mate agrees there is a problem and wants to work on it with you, it is much easier to get the relationship back on track.

2. Talk with your spouse about WHY the connection you once shared has lessened. Are you too focused on other things, such as the kids, or work, or church activities? Have you both put the marriage on the back burner? Often people take the marital relationship for granted and allow busy-ness to get in the way. Too much busy-ness is one of the most common reasons couples don’t have a dynamic alive relationship.

3. Be intentional about a plan for making the marriage a priority again. Remember the days of dating? When you couldn’t wait to be with your significant other? When you put other things aside to just spend time together? This is part of the ongoing maintenance of keeping the flame ignited in your relationship.

My husband and I are both Marriage Therapists. One thing we tell couples is that each person in the relationship needs to be committed not just to the marriage but also be committed to the RELATIONSHIP. There is a difference: I can be committed to the MARRIAGE, “I’m married, I will never get divorced”, but I haven’t committed to making the RELATIONSHIP with my spouse the priority it needs to be. This includes working through issues, attaching needs to the marriage, and staying engaged instead of polarized. The Bible calls us to reconciliation in all relationships, and the marriage relationship is no exception.

4. Make time to be together, not just as a family, but as a couple. So often when working with couples, I ask “When was the last time you and your spouse spent time together just the two of you?”, and most often they can’t even remember the last time. Be intentional about making a plan for connection. For example, you could decide to spend a minimum of 15-20 minutes to be together every day, after the kids go to bed, where you sit across from each other and talk. You could pour a cup of hot tea to share or like my husband and I do, bring a little dark chocolate to the table. Keep the television off and eliminate all other distractions, including the cell phone and iPad. Ask each other questions like you did when you were dating and you were trying to get to know the other person. Ask questions which draw your spouse out so he feels like someone is interested in him.

5. Have more sex! There is nothing that will ignite the flame more than a little body to body interaction. We need to make time for sexual intimacy. This is very important for the marriage to stay strong. You know, sex is the only thing that you can ONLY do with your spouse, so participating in this part of the relationship lets your husband know that he matters and his needs are important. Now I work with a lot of women, and honestly what I hear most often is that sex is the LAST thing that women feel like doing. But ladies, did you know that the biggest sex organ is between your….EARS! Your mind and your attitude towards sex is the biggest determiner of how invested you will be in this part of your relationship. You actually have the power to get yourself in a positive mindset about getting naked with your husband. You must choose to get your mind in the right place and if you do, you will feel more sexual. By the way, sex is also a great stress reliever, so there is an added benefit.
1 Corinthians 7:5 “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Now for those of you who have a strong libido and do not have to work to change your mindset about sex, then just HAVE MORE SEX! And if you are already having a lot of sex with your spouse, then you just might not need to read this article.

6. Pray together. To be spiritually connected is a wonderful way to feel attached to your spouse. If you are both believers, incorporate praying together into your relationship, if you don’t do this already. There is nothing sexier than a man who has an active prayer life. Do a devotional together and then pray for one another.

7. Have fun together. Too many couples have very few, if any, ways they play together. This is such an important part of a relationship. When people can laugh together, it helps them to feel closer. Sometimes a couple knows how to have fun tougher and just aren’t making the time for it. Other times a couple has never developed activities they can do together for fun. If this is you, then make this a topic of conversation. What are some ways that the two of you could have enjoyment together? You might need to think outside the box. Perhaps it is going bowling, or walking on the beach, or hiking or taking a cooking or art class. The sky is the limit, but you need to do the work to find out what might be enjoyable for the two of you. Many couples give up before finding connecting activities. When we have fun together, we want to be together. Don’t have your relationship always center around the daily chores of life or logistics, it will steal the passion very quickly.

8. Come up with a project or ministry that you can do together. Do you want to create a garden? Do you want to co-teach a class at church? How about feeding the homeless together? Seeing you can be a good team and that you can work on a shared goal really unites a couple. Think about a task or project you can do together and implement it.

9. Be romantic. Set up events where you can have opportunities to express love to your spouse. Walk hand in hand. Buy flowers for one another. Take a hot bath together. Light some candles. Create a warm ambiance. Think about what would be special for your spouse. What might feel romantic to you might not for your spouse. Get to know what sparks romance in your man.

10. Look for ways to be kind to your husband. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” So many times, niceties go out the window in our marriages. If your spouse is the person you have pledged your life to, then make sure he is held in high esteem every day. Be more kind to him than the grocery checker. This will go a long way in building good feelings between the two of you.

It’s easy in marriage to not do the maintenance work we need to. But when we don’t, there will be consequences. Every day I see couples who have not done what is needed to create and maintain a strong enriching marital relationship. The good news is this can be changed. If you put into practice the concepts above, an environment will be created where the flame in your marriage, instead of barely flickering, can turn into a roaring fire.

Karen L. Shurtz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) whose real passion is providing workshops entitled Healing the Wounded Self-Image for women’s groups. She and her husband have two children who continually encourage creative parenting.

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