Communication is our specialty – that’s what my husband, Paul, and I often say. It’s a bit of an inside joke for us dating all the way back to our first conversation ever when he asked me if I was in band (we met at college), and I thought he asked me if I was a man—great communication at its finest! So now, whenever we miscommunicate in some way, we say this and laugh together.
Thankfully we can laugh together about those moments of miscommunicating because they do not dominate our relationship. Good communication can be hard work, but it is well worth it. The joy we have at being with one another thrives on how well we are communicating and connecting. The trouble is, life is busy—especially smalltown ministry life! It is easy to feel as if ministering is crowding out time for connecting with my husband, particularly on those nights or weekends when he has to work late, has extra meetings at church, has to visit someone in the hospital, or has some other ministry obligation to fulfill.
One obvious way to be intentional in connecting and communicating with my husband is to plan date nights often. This is a great way to reconnect and really listen to one another. Another great way to purposefully work on communicating well is offered by Paul Tripp in his marriage book What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. He says, “The character and quality of our life is forged in little moments. Every day we lay little bricks on the foundation of what our life will be.”
We can find joy through the little moments we have to connect with one another every day: a quick hug, a moment of laughter together, a short walk down the road, or even a moment of crying together. Psalm 30:5b says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Paul and I have spent many occasions crying together, and while the grief and pain is not fun, it ALWAYS draws us closer together as we cry out to God, bringing a sweet joy as we rest in and wait on Him.
So what are some practical ways I can connect with my husband and communicate well? Here are some simple ones that I have found very helpful.
- Put the phone down – Smartphones are wonderful tools and can be very helpful, but one simple way I can make the little moments count is by putting my phone down and giving him my full attention.
- Touch base with him during the day – I love sending Paul a quick text occasionally about what the boys and I are doing, asking how he’s doing, or just saying I love you.
- Choose grace – In the moments of frustration because we have miscommunicated, ministry life has interrupted once again, or the kids are driving us both crazy – I can choose grace. Responding with grace isn’t easy and it means leaning on God’s strength to make those little moments count. But the more often I am able to choose grace in those moments, the more often I am able to “lay little bricks” that build something beautiful.
- Stay intimate – This applies both physically and emotionally. Really, it’s two sides of the same coin as one begets the other. Even though it can be tough at times to find the time amidst busy ministry and family schedules, connecting intimately through sex and emotionally through deep and meaningful conversations always brings joy in our relationship. We can feel the distance from one another when we have let either type of intimacy slide for a while. It’s at those times when I know we need to set aside some time to reconnect.
- Study the Word together – We don’t do our quiet time together, but we do often work on Bible lessons together, or read through a book or devotional together. Being able to discuss God’s Word and what we’re learning together is an amazing way to connect and build both our marriage and our relationships with God.
- Pray together – It never ceases to amaze me how connected I feel to Paul after we spend time in prayer together. Whether it is a quick moment to pray for a special need during the day, a longer time of prayer for a burden when we discuss ministry in the evening, or praying for one another before bed, I always feel closer to my husband after we have spent time with God together. Praying together provides a depth of honesty and vulnerability that is necessary for real intimacy to take place, and I believe it is essential to a strong and healthy marriage.
Don’t let ministry busyness take over the little moments of your life – be intentional and let the little moments be filled with joy as you connect with your husband.
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