How close are you to your spouse? Do you wish you were closer to each other than you are presently?
Are there ways you and your spouse can feel more intimate? Do you want to learn how you can be closer to your spouse? If your answer to the last question is ‘yes,’ then let me say congratulations to you because you are in the right place. In this post, you will see five things you should do to be closer to your spouse than you are presently.
By all means, don’t grow apart from your spouse. Both of you should develop that closeness together so that the longer your marriage, the closer you become.
This requires deliberate effort from both of you because there is no emotional, physical or spiritual intimacy in marriage without some serious effort.
Here are five things you should do to be closer to your spouse than you are presently.
1. Step up your listening skill
One common complaint amongst married people is this: He doesn’t listen to me or she doesn’t listen to me anymore.
That could mean that one spouse doesn’t take the advice of the other. And it could also mean not paying adequate attention to the spouse. I’m interested in the latter.
Do you intently listen to your spouse when he or she talks with you? Do you listen to understand or to defend yourself?
Spouses should give each other undivided attention and focus. It shows that you value each other and are interested in each other.
When your spouse talks to you, listen very well. Avoid the temptation of being preoccupied with other thoughts or phone activities. If you have been guilty of this, it’s time you made amends.
How much should you listen?
You should listen to your spouse to a satisfying level. That means until he or she is satisfied – not until you are satisfied.
If your spouse complains that you are not listening to him or her, don’t argue. Just accept it as an opportunity to scale up your listening skill.
For your spouse to complain that you are not listening, it means your listening disposition towards him or her has not reached the most satisfying level. If that’s your situation, resist the usual temptation to lash back, “You want too much attention”.
When it comes to listening to your spouse, there is always room for improvement.
Whomever you are married to deserves your highest respect. And attention is a form of respect.
The CAC principle
Before I married my wife, I told her three things that are vital to me in the union we were going to establish. I used the acronym CAC to encapsulate it for ease of remembrance for both of us.
✓ C for Commitment to me, and only me for life.
✓ A for Attention. Yes, does anyone like to be neglected?
✓ C for Communication. Be free to talk about anything and everything with me.
There were other things I demanded from her, but the above three stood out for me. My belief then was that if I could get those things, I would handle all other things that would come in between.
If she is committed to me as I am committed to her, if she gives me attention and has good communication with me, then there is no stopping us.
What I demanded from her, I was ready to give to her too – even more. With the last C-communication, for instance, I was indirectly assuring her that I would always give her a listening ear.
And as I am committed to her for life, divorce is not part of the equation.
It’s been more than 10 years since we got married and we are not doing badly with each other. (By the way, I didn’t say that to brag because we still have a long way to go).
Without commitment to, and communication with, each other, it is practically impossible to feel close to your spouse.
Of course, I’m referring to good, positive communication here. As you will agree with me, negative communication is bad communication.
A word of advice from Apostle James
There is an advice in the book of James that lends credence to the art of listening or giving attention to your spouse:
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.James 1:19
There are three points you can draw from that verse which can be applied in any relationship, but here, I’m recommending them as part of the arsenal to spice up your marriage.
- Be swift to hear ( listen more than you speak).
- Be slow to speak (avoid jumping into conclusions).
- Be slow to wrath. (Don’t be easily angered).
Before you read further down, I would advise you read those points above again. I’m sure you will see opportunities to apply them in your marriage.
2. Become unselfish
Marriage is not an opportunity for you to get all you can get at the expense of your spouse. It is an opportunity for you to become unselfish.
If you are in marriage for only what you can get, and not what you can give, it means you are selfish. And I want you to become unselfish.
Becoming unselfish in marriage means that you are becoming willing to put the needs or wishes of your spouse before your own. It is not going to be easy, but it is worth it.
When you were single, all you cared about was yourself. Now that you are married, you need to make certain adjustments to accommodate the wonderful person in your life – not just during the honeymoon, but for the rest of your lives.
What selfishness can do to a marriage
Marriage is for the long-haul. “Forever together, till death do us part.” Sounds familiar right? That’s it.
But you will not make it for that long if you remain selfish – never willing to give consideration to the needs of your spouse beyond what benefits you.
Selfishness destroys marriages. Selfishness is a big clog in the will of progress of your marriage. So you need to take it out by becoming unselfish, by making some adjustments.
3 ways you can make unselfish, loving adjustments
To become unselfish in marriage, you need to make the necessary adjustments. Best-selling author and renown Bible teacher, Rick Warren, suggests you do the following things:
- Think about your spouse’s needs.
- Submit to each other.
- Make adjustments in little things.
Think about your spouse’s needs and try your best to meet them. Remember that besides God, you are the most important person to your spouse.
When it comes to submission in marriage, all eyes are usually on the woman to submit to the man. But here, be reminded that submission is both ways.
If that’s contrary to what you believe, it means you have settled for a half-truth. And that’s dangerous to the marriage.
3. Rekindle your first love
Your marriage needs spicing up now because you have drifted from the original love you had for your spouse.
I know, it’s not your fault: you have children to raise, bills to pay, work to do, and other issues of life to deal with. As a result, your attention has been split in multiple ways and you no longer feel as close as you should to your spouse.
What can you do about it? The answer is for you to rekindle your first love.
To ‘rekindle’ something is to ‘relight’ it. In other words, to put the spark back.
If you are still reading this, I take it that you are serious with spicing up your marriage once more. I take it that you and your spouse are not as close to each other as you would want. And you want things to be better than it is right now:
Is it doable?
Is it achievable?
A lesson from the Ephesians
In the famous letters to the seven churches, Jesus told the church in Ephesus, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” Revelation 2:4-5 NKJV.
To help you understand this passage, let me quickly throw in some preambles.
The Ephesian church was first commended by Jesus for standing up against evils of the day, for being able to distinguish fake apostles from the fake ones, for their patience and perseverance, and for labouring in God’s name. The only thing Jesus had against them was that they had left their first love.
If leaving your first love was a big deal for Jesus, then it should be for you too.
Using the analogy of the Jesus’ letter to the Ephesian church, Pastor Warren points out that, “It is not only churches that drift away from their original love. Marriages and other significant relationships can drift away from the love that first drew them together.”
Have you not left your first love?
Time to examine yourself
You may be thinking you are doing your best for your marriage, but have you not left your first-love? Do you still feel as strongly in love with your spouse as you once did?
If your answer to the latter question is ‘no’, then you need to do something about it. And that’s is to return to your first love. In other words, begin to rekindle your love.
So if you feel you have drifted from the original love that drew you to your spouse, then do what Jesus told the Ephesian church to do, “…Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.”
Return to doing those things that made both of you happy together. I don’t have to mention them here. You know what you did for and with your spouse that made him or her feel loved, feel intimate, feel important and feel cherished. Jesus says to return to doing them again. That’s what it means to rekindle your first love.
4. Grow spiritually together
When I was a teenager, I heard one Bible teacher make a remark along this line: “In some marriages, one spouse may be at the university level spiritually while the other is at kindergarten level. That’s not balanced at all. Both spouses should grow together.”
Are you growing spiritually together with your spouse?
I’m not suggesting that it is compulsory for you and your to be on the same level spiritually. But one should not be growing at the expense of the other.
If couples are not growing spiritually together, it will be difficult for them to operate on the same frequency.
How can you grow together spiritually with your spouse?
The first advice I would recommend here is for you and your spouse to be committed to following Jesus – together. If one of you lacks that commitment, then it would be impossible to grow together spiritually.
I would also recommend the following action points:
- Pray together regularly at home.
- Study the Bible together and share lessons with each other.
- Pray for each other.
- Attend church services together.
- Obey God’s word together.
- Recommended spiritual resources to each other.
5. Make affirmation part of your marriage
When you affirm your spouse, it means you give “emotional support or encouragement” to him/her.
How much and how often do you affirm your spouse?
You should never undermine your spouse’s contributions to your family in particular and to the society at large. How can you do that? By avoiding constant negative criticisms. You don’t want to be the one that does not have anything good to say about your spouse.
There are people who pride themselves as being their spouse’s greatest critic. Well, here is a word of caution for such people: if you criticise your spouse too much, he or she will come to resent you. And resentment cannot bring you closer to each other or closer to God.
Rather than being your spouse’s worst critic, become his or her biggest admirer or supporter – in private and in public. That’s one way to become more intimate with each other.
Ways to affirm your spouse
Of course, I’m talking about positive affirmation here. As suggested by Warren, please always:
- Affirm your spouse’s value.
- Affirm your spouse’s strength.
- Affirm your spouse’s ministry.
Affirming someone else’s value, strength and ministry does not invalidate your own value, strength and ministry.
In any long term marriage, establishing that strong feeling of closeness to your spouse is not an easy task. It requires hard-work, commitment and intentionality from both of you.
The good news is that it is an achievable goal to wish to be closer to your spouse. For that to be possible, certain things must happen and you must make certain adjustments:
- You have to listen to your spouse more.
- You have to become unselfish.
- You have to return to your first love.
- You have to grow spiritually with your spouse.
- You have to affirm your spouse’s good qualities.
Let the conversation continue in the comment section. In what other ways can spouses get closer to each each other?
This post was inspired by Pastor Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals from June 8 to June 12, 2021.