At our wedding reception, James and I danced to “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. Although Johnson is no Protestant preacher, his lyrics loosely reflect the biblical truth of Ecclesiastes 4:9, which says, “Two are better than one …” (ESV).
Yet so often, we see couples who were once committed drifting apart. Why? It’s not just one thing or one spouse’s fault that causes the disconnect. It’s daily choices that build or break down the marriage relationship.
Next month is our four-year anniversary, and I’ve found that simple actions make a lasting impact. Each day of the week, we must look for ways to connect with our spouse.
#1: Worship together.
Being in God’s house together reminds us Who is at the core of our relationship. Does something so “simple” as worshipping together help solidify marriage? Absolutely. As a wife, I feel safe knowing that my husband cares about his walk and my walk with Jesus enough to prioritize being in God’s house.
Granted, plenty of people warm pew seats without taking a second thought to the worship or preaching of God’s Word. And yes, we also need personal quiet time and prayer all throughout the week. My point, though, is that we must take worship seriously because worshipping together brings us closer to our Savior and to each other. As Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (ESV).
Sure, it’s easy to make excuses Sunday morning. Our six-month-old is still not sleeping through the night, and sometimes, I do not want to go to church because I’m exhausted. You can think of other excuses. Although some Sundays being physically present may not be possible, let those weeks be the exception and not the norm.
#2: Conquer together.
Monday mornings come fast, don’t they? And so begins a myriad of responsibilities. Work. Childcare. Housework. If we’re not careful, we drift apart in a sea of to-do lists.
Instead, look for ways to divide and conquer together. There is nothing our six-month-old loves more than both daddy and mommy together with him. This time isn’t possible when daddy’s at work or mommy’s at her laptop, but it is doable in the afternoons and evenings. It just means getting creative: I cook while James spoons sweet potatoes into our son’s baby-bird mouth a few feet away. James helps with cleanup while I play on the floor with our baby within view. We both help with his bath, one of his favorite activities.
In short, doing these “chores” together becomes bonding opportunities and moments to show love for each other through service. We see time and time again in Scripture the command for husbands to “love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19 ESV) and for wives to “love their husbands” (Titus 2:4 ESV). Love is a verb, and often, the most powerful messages aren’t the spoken ones—but the actions that show we’re in this adventure together.
What are ways in your home responsibilities that you can conquer together and reveal how much you care?
#3: Play together.
When I was in college, my Bible professor defined love as “purposing the good of another.” Do you realize that in our play, we can purpose our spouse’s good? We can! Jesus modeled for us the example to “count others more significant” than ourselves (Philippians 2:3 ESV). When we pursue our husband’s passions and pastimes by his side, we show that we care about what matters to him.
What does this play look like? For me, it meant learning how to mountain bike and surf. For another wife, it might mean golfing. For my husband, it meant reading drafts of my books and supporting my writing.
Prior to meeting James, I’d never considered biking off-road—or surfing. Prior to marrying me, James never dreamed he’d proofread manuscripts. But we both invested in each other and each other’s worlds. In doing so, our own relationship grew even more intimate.
Speaking of intimacy, we can’t overlook our physical relationship. James and I have an infant now, and free time is shorter than ever. (Sleep, sometimes scarcer!) Intimacy may be less spontaneous, but we talk about it and make sure we don’t miss it. The physical expression of giving ourselves binds us closer as “one” and is a vital part of God’s plan for marriage, something Scripture commands us not to neglect (I Corinthians 7:5).
#4: Share together.
Last night, after our son fell asleep, I grabbed the baby monitor and s’more supplies while James lit a small bonfire in our fire pit and set up our two-seat camping chair—the quiet invited conversation. I apologized for being grumpy that day (nothing to do with him) and tried to explain what I was feeling. James listened and made me a s’more. We admired the stars, cuddled in the two-seater, talked about our Sunday school class discussion that morning, and enjoyed the silence.
Both talking and just being present build a healthy marriage. Our backyard date cost almost nothing (except a sugar rush) but created space to enjoy each other’s company.
The simple things add up, friend. You don’t have to have a bonfire. Just think of something you enjoy that doesn’t create noise but opens up conversation.
Our spouses are such gifts. Sure, life is busy, and we can get lost in the day-to-day bustle. That’s why we must always be searching for simple connections that draw us closer together.
Kristen Hogrefe Parnell
Kristen Hogrefe Parnell writes suspenseful fiction from a faith perspective for women and young adults. Her own suspense story involved waiting on God into her thirties to meet her husband, and she desires to keep embracing God’s plan for her life when it’s not what she expects. Kristen’s books have won the Selah Award and the Grace Award, among others. An educator at heart, she also teaches English online and enjoys being a podcast guest. Kristen lives in the Tampa, Florida area with her husband and baby boy. Connect with her at KristenHogrefeParnell.com.