Marriage: The Importance of Staying Connected

older-couple

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My husband’s job has required a number of longer business trips over the past few years. Navigating our separations has been its own journey for our family. He must witness some of the struggles from afar. I walk out the emotional turmoil and busy schedules on the home front.

Maintaining our home, driving the boys to and from school, appointments, football practice, band rehearsals, Boy Scouts . . . All of these fill our days and weeks.

blue-bridge

 

I can carry the load, git ‘er done, and multi-task to complete everything on our daily schedule. I flex with surprise appointments, diagnoses. The assignments that should’ve been finished. Yesterday.

But I end up exhausted—weary to the very core of who I am—if I don’t connect with my best friend. The one with whom my heart is interwoven.

rundown-home

 

I bear the weight of our family in my spirit.

The boys’ needs for connection . . .

. . . the struggles they face as they begin to figure out how to walk out these teen years . . .

. . . find their identities,

. . . their independence.

There are days when we all retreat to our rooms, hurting from what another said. Some days, one does the hurting. Other days we all do the hurting.

Holding Hands

 

When Hubs returns home from his trips, I feel the lightness as his shoulders help bear the responsibility—the calling—of raising two boys. I’m ready to dump everything on him and escape to a place of doing nothing.

By myself.

My husband, being the amazing server he is, takes charge of caring for the boys to give me some time to refresh. And honestly? I’m happy to let him carry the weight for a little while.

fence-boundary

 

I’ve discovered we have to guard our hearts against the temptation to live our lives parallel to each other. Caring for our family, our parents, and others who people our lives can wrench us apart if we don’t put boundaries in place.

It’s too easy to take each other for granted.

a-marriage-falters-copy

 

A marriage grows weak when there isn’t genuine caring. It falters when we become so busy with our responsibilities that we forget to connect . . . as husband and wife. As best friends.

In a season of life where everything else can be prioritized before my husband, I must guard my heart. I must halt the tyranny of everyday tasks that tempt me to forget to love my husband well.

couple-distracted

 

Here are a few lessons I‘m learning:

  • Connecting is crucial, especially when he’s away. Whether through email, or through Skype or FaceTime, we set an appointment to talk face-to-face at least a few times a week. Sometimes I chafe at having to set aside other tasks (I am a multi-tasker, after all). Spending the moments we have to look each other in the eye, to share how things are going, to talk through decisions . . . this strengthens our marriage.
  • I have needs for time . . . and so does he. When he comes home from a trip, He often gives me alone time. I love him by giving him the same gift. He needs this to reconnect with the boys, re-orient to our groove, and have time in his man-cave to rejuvenate (he is an introvert, after all).
  • Choose each other. To keep our marriage strong, we need time together, holding hands, talking, laughing. He’s more important than our boys, which means they won’t always get to do what they want. Hubs’ and my needs to grow our relationship is legitimate. It’s not less-than, simply because he doesn’t have the same pressing needs our boys do.
  • Place relationship above tasks. My crazy need to get things done sometimes drives me harder than it should. I need to say No to the list and Yes to my man.
  • Be honest about needs. If I gloss over my own struggles, I steal the opportunity we have to connect on a heart level. And he misses out on loving me by helping me meet those needs.Marriages grow when we connect at the deeper levels of who we each are.

A couple near a river

 

Regardless of whether my husband is at home with us, or working somewhere else, connection is vital. The way our marriage will weather life’s challenges is to hold our relationship as our first priority . . . second only to our relationship with God.

When we do this, God will protect our relationship, and our love for each other will deepen.

What about you? If you’re married, what’s your number one key to keeping your relationship strong? If you’re not married, how do you stay connected with those you are closest to?

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21 thoughts on “Marriage: The Importance of Staying Connected

  1. Jeanne, this is such and excellent essay, and such an important topic!

    Good connexion really begins during courtship…being confident enough to ‘be oneself’ rather than what one assumes the beloved wishes to see.

    I really didn’t do this. I wanted to be what Barb was used to, and needed…someone like her father, and the other men in her family. In other words, someone stable and sane. I buried myself as deep as I could, but that grave opened up when things got challenging, and she didn’t entirely like the hooligan who emerged, grinning madly. from the tomb.

    Connexion has been hard, and it’s mainly my fault. Case in point, the Famous Broken Ankle. It’s been two weeks, and it’s worse…she thinks I should go to the doctor, sooner than later, because there’s a nonzero possibility of gangrene and amputation. (Yes, I’m still walking on it. Pressure promotes healing, or so they say.)

    To which I answered, “If it’s gangrene and they can’t save the leg I’LL save it, and have it bronzed.”

    It’s an honest answer, but to put it mildly, my wife was not amused.

    The question is begged…is this dude an idiot? Yes, absolutely, but removing all traces of idiocy is well-nigh impossible, and I should have understood this before marriage. At least I could have given fair warning.

    But meanwhile, I try to be as supportive as I can. I can microwave a mean dish of French Fries, and even add salt to suit Barbara’s taste. She did, however, pass on the nuoc mam that I hopefully suggested.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/02/your-dying-spouse-268-lessons-from.html

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    • Andrew, you bring up a great point. Good connection really does begin during courtship. Maybe I would be more specific and add authentic connection. As you shared, sometimes we show our best side rather than our real side . .. for many different reasons. But, when we become more serious in our intentions toward someone, we need to also be real, don’t we? This in itself deepens relationship.

      I think we learn a whole lot about how to be married in the life-lessons book. We live life together, make mistakes, and learn how to work through them. Ideally together. It’s good you choose to support her in a real way. Serving is good, even if the effort feels small, if that makes sense. 🙂

      Continuing to pray for you friend!

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  2. Thank you for these encouraging words, Jeanne. Such good truths here. I’m a get-it-done girl too and I’m realizing (slowly) that what my husband craves most is for me just to sit (or run with him 😊) and listen. It’s funny with the verse you chose to focus on: guarding my heart is the one thing I’ve repeatedly felt impressed upon my heart. I’ve been able to look back at my life and see that I have never truly guarded it. I’ve soaked in what was not mine to carry (mainly emotional responsibility for others) and let go of what has been mine to not just carry, but be blessed by. I’ve neglected that which God has gifted to bless me and be blessed by.

    Thursday, my husband and I have been together fifteen years. I’m taken back to the time God brought him into my life. I now see He was showing me what it is to be loved just as I am, but also pursued into greater freedom to become who I have been created to be- freed from more and more of the shackles of fear. Not to live to be lover, but to live as loved already, free to try new things and fail, free to let go of the must do’s to live the passions God had placed in my heart since a child.

    My husband isn’t a believer, but God has used him the most to teach me who He is and to trust Him when he says that I truly am fearfully and wonderfully made. And since coming back to faith He’s used him to give me such joy in prayer, as He’s opened the eyes of my heart to believe and trust what His Word says. Even now my husband and children are made holy through the gift of faith He’s given me and I have seen that so clearly watching my husband lead and guide me and our family, as I’ve thanked God for being at the head of our household.

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    • Anna, you beautifully describe the struggle many of us have. We take on things from others that were never meant to be carried by us. I, too, have fallen into the trap of letting go of things God has given me in order to carry things that were not mine to carry. I hadn’t thought about this aspect of guarding our hearts before.

      Congratulations on 15 years! That is truly noteworthy! It’s amazing how God uses unbelievers in our lives to teach us more about Himself. It sounds like God has given you many lessons to learn, and has also helped you and your husband grow closer to each other over the years. You are a blessed lady!

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  3. I really like this post, and it resonates with me personally. My husband is gone most of the time for work, leaving me to hold up the house-hold end alone. No family dinners, weekend fun, or daily routine to count on. It’s brought me closer to God over the last decade, as I’ve watched my husband and I drift away from friendship. My prayer is that one day it’ll be different, but for now I have to focus on my blessings and trust God has the perfect plan for us.
    Happy Tuesday!
    Megs

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  4. Your words are so important whether in a married relationship or just trying to traverse life and grow relationships. Thank you for sharing all you are learning about your self to help us in our own journeys.

    God is definitely working in and through you as you maneuver the lives of two teenage or amongst teenage boys as well as a husband who travels. Your words are a blessing.

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    • Mary, you are so right! All important relationships in our lives need nurturing. We need that connection if they are to grow/remain solid. Thanks for your words of encouragement. They’re much appreciated!

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  5. Connection is greatly needed to thrive in life! It can be difficult in this time of busy children and technology can also create separation when meant for connection. I love your list of ways to stay connected–tangible and doable. And agree 100% with Mary’s words that they can apply to relationships beyond marriage.

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    • Yes, Lynn! Connection is a necessity to thrive in life. I’m finding we have to choose connection. Choose to make the investments to enable connection to happen. In marriage, and in any relationship. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts!

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  6. Jeanne,
    Such good thoughts and reminders here. One thing my husband and I have incorporated into our time spent together is praying…I mean REALLY praying together. More than just the prayers before meals and before bed, but holding each others hands and lifting our thanks and our concerns before God. This has helped me to see that its’ not just the two of us against the world…it’s really the two of us in union with God and a cord or 3 strands is not easily broken. Giving each other space for down time is also key…thanks so much.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    • Bev, praying as a couple is KEY. My hubs and I do this too. Especially when he’s away. We almost always end our Skype sessions with prayer. Yes, we are in that cord of three strands. I need that reminder. Too often I fall into the mindset that it’s Hubs and me against the world. God is the most important strand. Especially when I’m weary, I need to remember this. 🙂

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  7. Such wise advice here, Jeanne. We are past the stage of raising kids, but it’s still so important to connect on a deeper level. I love that you and your husband respect each other’s need to have some alone time. Love and hugs!

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    • Trudy, I think we have that need for connection throughout our lives, regardless of what season our family or our marriage is in. It’s good when we know what our spouses need and then give it to them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  8. Beautiful jeanne! You are amazing and I love how you are all about relationship~ with God, husband, kids, and family. May God continue to fill your home with beauty and joy! Blessings!

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  9. OK, Jeanne … true story: My sensitive-to-noise husband called yesterday–while I was steam-mopping the kitchen–to give me a medical update about something. Being the efficient multi-tasker that I am, I kept mopping as we talked. I’m thinking this falls in the “placing tasks over relationship” category, huh? 🙂 I appreciate your lesson about choosing each other … it’s so easy to let the kids dictate everything, but all too soon they’re going to be gone and it will just be the two of us again. You’re right … keeping that connection strong IS vital!

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    • Lois, may I confess I chuckled (just a little) when I read your confession? 🙂 Been there. Done that, my friend. Though not with a steam mop. My hubs called me on it. It’s good that we Skype when he’s away because I can’t multi-task without him finding me out. 😉 And, I love seeing his face too much to want to work through our conversations.

      I’ve thought about the fact that our boys will be out of the house before we know it. We want our relationship to be strong as we enter those days. That happens as we build it and make each other our priorities now, doesn’t it? Thanks for the smile today. 🙂

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