By: Abby Glaser
Encompass Community Advocate
When our Outreach Coordinator told me this month’s topic is devotion and faithfulness…my first thought was that I didn’t have anything to say on that topic! Which is ironic since I have been with my husband for 25 years now. I suppose I do know a thing or two! While the definition of devotion includes love and loyalty, which is what most think of when they hear that word, it also includes “enthusiasm!" That definitely got my brain thinking… when was the last time I expressed enthusiasm for my partner?
Maybe you’re a newlywed so this question seems unfathomable to you. But if you are in a long-term relationship, it probably doesn’t! While our love and loyalty can often be a primary motivator, it can be easy after decades together to lose our enthusiasm. This came up not long ago for my husband and I while meeting with our marriage counselor. My husband expressed that I don’t seem excited to see him anymore when he comes home from work. I immediately felt defensive and began telling the therapist of all of the tasks I have to do when I get home from work and therefor, I’m just busy at the time he gets home! But over the next few days I began to really examine that discussion and try to put myself in my spouse’s shoes… how would I feel if I thought he wasn’t happy to see me? I’ve been working hard since then to stop what I’m doing when he comes home and greet him with eye contact and a hug. Just that simple three-minute change has had a big effect on how he feels coming home every day.
For many couples, the everyday responsibilities of kids and work and social calendars can get in the way of connecting with our partner in a way that maintains emotional intimacy. We can get lost in the logistics and be so busy cooking dinner we forget to kiss our spouse when they come home. Those little things may be minor in the moment but can really add up. How many years had my husband been feeling I wasn’t happy to see him before he finally verbalized it?
Dr. Linda Duncan found in her research that there are four times of the day when a few minutes of positive effort to connect can influence a positive or negative outcome for the day. Those are sleep to wakefulness, when leaving the house, coming home and when one person goes off to sleep. You can read more about these in a previous blog post here: Four Daily Connection Points.
Sometimes small, simple changes can help us reignite enthusiasm for our partner!
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.