I had the privilege of leading a Safe House Marriage Retreat in New York last week. Seven couples—all very competent, high functioning leaders. We dined, shared life, cried and laughed together. We even had ROFL moments. Real ones.
One of those moments came with a suggestion.
One of the biggest culprits of what I call “felt disconnection” with our spouse is busyness. We work jobs. Chauffeur our kids. Clean the house. Mow the lawn. Meal plan. Create budgets. Pay bills. You know the routine.
And you also know how close you and your spouse feel right now.
When Christi and I aren’t being intentional, the busyness creeps into our home and, after the kids are down for the night, we unwind “together”—but apart. We watch Netflix. Read. Or maybe return to work.
When both spouses are leaders, too often their leading becomes so focused on who (employees, church members, the kids) or what (churches, organizations, businesses, the home) they’re leading, that they forget about the most important person they’re leading with and living with.
If we’re not unified with our spouse, our leading will suffer in all other areas.
The more entrenched couples are in their day-to-day “busy,” the more I find they—we included—have detracted from the ROFL moments that brought them together in the first place.
When was the last time you and your spouse laughed so hard together your face hurt?
Maybe it’s time to buy a couple Nerf guns.
A dear counselor friend told me a story about a couple he was seeing years ago who were stuck—living in a rut. They had no major issues, but they knew they weren’t feeling close—or having fun.
“Josh,” he said, “they were high functioning, but just not connecting.”
“So I gave them an assignment that changed the course of their marriage,” he explained.
“What was that?” I asked inquisitively.
“I told them to go buy a set of water guns and have a water gun fight in their house—with the blinds closed.”
Curious, I had to ask, “Why did you tell them to close the blinds?”
He answered with the most genius marriage strategy ever.
“Because I told them to do it naked.”
They came back the next week giddy, like a couple of high school sweethearts infatuated with one another. He never saw them again.
What games did you and your spouse like to play early in your relationship? Perhaps it’s time to dust them off and create some new rules. Drop the kids off at the babysitter and go back home. (Who needs to spend money out at dinner?)
Go home, pull out a game, and create some new rules that allow romance and fun to counteract the busyness and rigidity that so often overrun our marriage relationships.
You’ll begin making memories that, by comparison, make many of the arguments you’re having seem so ridiculously small.
Oh yeah, and take it from us, unless you want to be mopping the floor, buy Nerf guns instead.
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and president and co-founder of the Connextion Group, a company designed to empower parents and families. Josh speaks and writes on emotionally safe parents and spouses and the influence of technology on today's family. He is the author of the newly released Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (Waterbrook Multnomah) and along with his wife, Christi, is the producer and co-author of the video curriculum The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st Century. He wakes up each day striving to love others better beginning with his wife, Christi, and their son, Landon, and daughter, Kennedy.
For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century, you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.com and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.