Step #1: Make Time to Hang Out
Here’s the thing about avoiding your spouse: the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the harder it is to reconnect. Picture what happens when you’re in, say, a really fantastic small group from church, with really tight friends . . . and then one of the friends moves away. You can stay in touch and try to stay “as close as ever,” but it usually doesn’t work out that way. You’re still friends, but you don’t share the closeness you used to. Life—and distance—gets in the way. The same thing happens to a husband and wife who aren’t up-close and personal anymore.
It’s time to start making time to be with your spouse. One counselor I know suggests literally just making time for thirty minutes of hanging out and talking each day, with no arguing allowed. She says, “You can start fighting again thirty minutes later if you want but for that time simply don’t deal with the conflict stuff. Just be friends again.” Build your friendship and the feelings of closeness will follow.
In my research for The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, I discovered something about what makes happy couples tick: 90% of the happy couples I surveyed said they spent quite a bit of time together. Hanging out (even if it means via email or text sometimes!) is one of those simple little things that fosters closeness and without which, closeness just doesn’t happen. The happiest couples don’t necessarily do extravagant date nights, they simply go shopping together, go for walks together, or even just sit and have coffee in the mornings before work while reading the newspaper and maybe mentioning here and there the things they’re reading. On the flip side of that, only 35% of the struggling couples I talked to said they hung out at least twice a week.