Has the luster worn off your marriage? Has the busyness of doing church and life crowded out the romance? Has the church, or the job, become “the other woman/man?” Pastor, it is hard for your spouse to have to compete with God. How can he/she be mad at God for drawing away your affections? It’s futility. So today I am hoping you can take away some practical things to do in your marriage to keep the love and joy going. Joy is something that grows. The fun thing for couples is that the couple bonds amplifies joy. That means a little bit of joy can quickly turn into a lot of joy. Couple bonds that we share are very intense.
Marriage bonds are where two share joy for life. The problem with being married is that it brings up all of your junk—all your baggage! (And it could be embarrassing.) Within marriage joy is grown and amplified in ways you never imagined but negative emotions are amplified as well as positive ones. The goal is not to avoid negative emotions; the goal is to learn how to return to joy from them.
Struggling couples will say, “I am losing my love.” “I don’t know that I love him/her anymore.” What that means is that there is no joy. They are no longer glad to be together. They are no longer the sparkle in each other’s eyes. When joy levels drop it is not fun; it is not life giving for either partner.
You can revive or rekindle a marriage.
It is possible to grow your joy levels–use your relationship to increase your joy. A basic definition of joy means “somebody is glad to be with you!” You are the sparkle in your mate’s eyes. Here are some ways to rekindle the flame!
Synchronized Responses — Use your body as a canvas, your face, your tone of voice, your body language, and your touch to grow joy. The words need to match the tone and the sparkle in the eye and the face lighted up—all these things together convey joy. You want to be attuned in your responses; in other words, if “wife” is in the middle to trying to navigate two little ones and change diapers, get supper and answer the phone…and hubby tries to interrupt that with, “Dear! I am so glad to see you right now!” He would not be attuned to the situation that she is in. But when she takes a moment to catch her breath and looks his way, his face can light up and he can say, “Honey, I love you” I love who you are and the mom that you are and the wife that you are to me.” Then it can be heard and appreciated. So, you want for your responses to be attuned to what we would call a “synchronized response.”
Tender Responses to Weakness—Joy levels are going to grow when you have tender responses to weakness. That means that when one of you is not at your best that you are able to respond to your mate with tenderness, sensitivity and care. Those are the kinds of moments that actually create the safety for joy to grow. Joy should not overwhelm. As long as you are attuning to your spouse with what he/she needs and he/she is attuning to you with what the both of you need, you are going to find balance and a shared “mutual mind.” Tender responses are going to be a very important factor in keeping your joy levels high. Being short and snappy to each other isn’t going to help the joy levels grow.
And rest! — One of the fun things about resting is that it gives you the strength to grow more joy. There are times at the end of the day that you are so tired you want to just sit and hold each other and catch your breath. After a little time of that, it rejuvenates you and you can grow some more joy. Trying to push through never really works. I don’t recommend trying to push though. It is not helpful.
Welcome God’s presence. — We call this the Immanuel Lifestyle; which means that you want to invite Jesus into your relationship, into these moments together. Your joy levels will increase as you are more aware that God is with you. Joy is very personal, very relational and it keeps you in a relational mode. When you are overwhelmed, anxious or upset—those things quickly knock you out of relational mode. That is not fun for anyone.
Joy is authentic, genuine; it is sincere. It’s not painting a smile on your face for the sake of trying to grow joy, you actually feel joy. As you are feeling the joy you are experiencing it and showing it. And you keep those levels high with your spouse by being kind, loving, careful and attentive.
Just do it! — In some ways you could say that living in the moment helps to keep the joy levels high. Words and actions need to match. The challenge is that you frequently assume that your spouse knows that you are glad to be with him/her and assume he/she knows that you love him/her. Never assume that is the case! If you have a chance to show joy and show love, take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t just let the thought bounce around in your mind—show it. If you have the thought that you want to show your spouse how glad you are to be with him/her, how glad you are at seeing him/her and being with him/her. Show that! Say it and watch her face light up in those moments when you follow through and verbalize what you feel. You might have that thought in your mind for a while, maybe days even, but don’t always follow through on those thoughts of “I should just do this. I should remind my wife how much I love her. Follow through and watch her face light up as your face lights up.
You may need to set the Iphone aside, turn the thing off…put it in another room if you have to so that you can spend quality time with your spouse and family and really work on keeping those joy levels up. Because the moment you set your mind to start growing joy you will be amazed at how many distractions come your way. So set aside those things as much as you are able to.
Intentional Practice — Here is a PDF of some exercises you can do to help build joy.
Action Step — Ask yourselves who has your attention. Does your spouse have your attention? Your kids? Your job? The paper you are writing, the report…? Where is your focus when you are together? Look for ways to keep the joy levels high. Be intentional about practicing joy exercises.
Blessings, Carol Brown B.A., M.A.C.I. Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com http:connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com