Mar 012016 2 Responses

5 Ways to Prevent Your Marriage from Drifting

Proximity matters in marriage. In healthy marriages, couples devise ways to spend more time near one another. In unhealthy marriages, couples subconsciously drift away from one another. Proximity is both a causation and correlation to marital satisfaction.

Few things forge friendships as much as proximity. Consider your first friend. I can almost guarantee you that friend either lived next door or was in your 1st grade class. In the beginning of dating relationships, a couple spends more and more time with one another as the attraction grows.

Being physically close to one another increases the likelihood of a shared positive experience. The positive interaction bonds two people together and gives them an appreciation for one another. The more positive interactions a couple has, the less powerful a negative interaction will be. (See: One Thing Great Couples Do that Others Do Not)

A healthy marriage is not necessarily a relationship with less negative interactions. It may be that a healthy relationship still experiences the same amount of negative interactions as an unhealthy marriage. However, because a healthy relationship has so many more positive interactions than a couple who is struggling, the negative moments do not have the same impact on the perception or feelings of the couple.

An absence of regular proximity with a spouse robs the opportunity for the couple of having more meaningful shared experiences. It diminishes conversation, lessens laughter, and puts added pressure on the rare times in which a couple is together.

If you want to feel closer to your spouse, get closer to them. By sharing time, experience, and space, you are more likely to have empathy, understanding, and shared perspective.

The Dangers of Proximity

Proximity is so powerful regarding relationships that married couples must guard against it. While boundaries must be present with everyone, special attention must be given to those people who work around us or live near us.

It’s no accident many doctors have affairs with their nurses. It’s not coincidence that co-workers often cross boundary lines and act in inappropriate ways. Proximity can nourish a wrong relationship just as easily as it can assist a right relationship.

We must recognize the dangers of proximity and be on guard against making foolish choices. Watch out for neighbors, co-workers, clients, friends, work-out partners, coaches, and any person of the opposite sex with whom you will be in close proximity with. Don’t run from those relationships, but do recognize they present a unique temptation which deserves extra attention. Strong boundaries can protect you while allowing the relationships to be healthy. (See: Beware of the Crossfit Affair)

The Opportunities of Proximity

While being near one another poses a unique risk for others, it creates a great opportunity for spouses. By intentionally finding ways to be close to one another a couple can increase the likelihood of meaningful connection.

Intention isn’t necessary early in a relationship. Proximity happens naturally. No one has to tell an engaged couple to spend time together. Very few newlyweds struggle to be near one another. But as time passes, kids arrive, and the responsibilities of life increase, a couples proximity can either be stolen from them or slowly drift away.

Especially during a few specific seasons of marriage (chasing toddlers, chauffeuring children, raising teenagers) most couples have to find ways to be near one another. If they don’t, they run the risk of slowly drifting from one another.

  • He doesn’t like what she is watching on TV so he goes to another room.
  • Two kids have different events on the same night so each parent goes a different direction.
  • She stays up late while he goes to bed early.
  • She sleeps in while he leaves for the office.

It doesn’t take much of this before a couple who used to spend a lot of time close to one another is rarely in the same room alone. The lack of proximity comes with a price. The consequences are rarely noticed. But over time a couple can feel their closeness is slipping. They might say “we are growing apart” or “I feel like we don’t even know each other anymore.” What they don’t realize is that as they have physically spent less time in one another’s presence, an emotional and spiritual toll has been paid.

The average couple can benefit greatly from making intentional choices to be in closer proximity with one another. Choosing to get closer with each other can make them feel closer to one another.

How to Get Closer to Feel Closer:

1. Family Dinner. One of the best ways for a whole family to get closer to one another is to form the habit of eating at least one meal a day together. It’s not always easy, but the commitment is worth it.

2. Vacation. Sometimes you need to reset your relationship. Getting away from the daily responsibilities, routines, and children can reconnect a couple in a powerful way. Being together in a car or on a plane can reintroduce spouses to each other. Spending a week or weekend in a different place can force a couple to communicate more with one another than others.

3. Touch. Non-sexual touch is a wonderful way to feel closer to your spouse. Obviously to touch your spouse you must be near them, but a touch also causes them to recognize your nearness. (See: A Touchy Subject in Marriage)

4. Smaller houses. Less space can force a couple nearer to one another. Too many couples buy a house without ever considering its possible impact on their relationship. A bigger house requires even more attention to make sure you are spending time together.

5. Choices. The most important step to feeling closer is simply choosing to be closer. Notice your choices and instead of choosing to physically separate from your spouse, make the decision to stay near them. Don’t go to a separate room to relax. Don’t pick up your phone when you first go to bed. Do sit near your spouse when watching TV.

This isn’t to say a couple should always be by one another’s side. They shouldn’t. Distance is also an important part to a healthy relationship. Each individual must maintain their personal identity apart from the marriage. Sometimes you need to get away from one another in order to get close. But for most couples, they are spending enough time apart. They aren’t spending enough time together.

If you want to feel closer to your spouse, get closer to them. Proximity matters in marriage.

One caveat: proximity only helps a relationship if it doesn’t highlight repulsive attributes of the other. Some relationships will get worse if a couple increases their proximity because one or both spouses detest aspects of their husband or wife. In these cases, proximity reveals a deeper problem. If increasing your proximity to your spouse makes your relationship worse, get help immediately.

2 Responses to 5 Ways to Prevent Your Marriage from Drifting
  1. […] Touch.  Non-sexual touch is a wonderful way to feel closer to your spouse.  Obviously to touch you...

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