by Greg Smalley / Focus on the Family
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” – Khalil Gibran
There’s an art – an elusive, delicate, almost indescribable art – to forging the kind of marriage that not only enables the partners to spend enjoyable time with one another, but which actually nurtures and encourages real togetherness. As you may have already discovered, clinginess, control, and a demanding attitude that says, “I want you to spend time with me, and I want it now!” can put a damper on a relationship faster than almost anything else. So can a constant routine of “the same old same old” all the time. The way to stay excited about being together is to sprinkle in a judicious pinch of spice now and then. It’s all about “getting outside the box” every once in a while. In other words, it’s a question of achieving the right balance – like finding your rhythm in the dance and then improvising steps just for the fun of it.
Current research indicates that thriving husbands and wives draw strength, energy, and life from being in one another’s company. Ironically, this does not mean that they spend all of their time together. That’s because healthy, vibrant relationships require breathing space. They need the ebb and flow of independence and togetherness. You can infuse this kind of experience into your marriage by making room for novelty and variety and by working an element of the unexpected into your date night plans.
Actor Lucas Neff has been quoted as saying, “That honeymoon phase is so much fun in real life, when you meet and discover somebody new and fall in love and chase them – the pursuit, and that climactic final moment of ultimate togetherness.” Whether he knows it or not, in these few words Neff has summed up the essence of nearly all the world’s great romantic comedies. He’s given us Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in miniature – a quick snapshot of the push and pull, the advance and retreat, the playful tug and release that make love between the sexes such a hilariously stimulating and addictive game.
Couples who stay together tend to be couples who find ways to keep this kind of hilarity and fun alive at the heart of their relationship. The fabric of their marriages is strong because they know how to weave spaces into their times of togetherness and maintain threads of connection even when apart. They do this by developing meaningful traditions and rituals characterised by laughter and playfulness. They don’t just live under the same roof and sleep in the same bed. Instead, they’re intentional about building a blended life upon a firm foundation of common values, interests, and goals. What’s more, they keep their relationship vibrant by allowing it to breathe – and by celebrating the surprising and serendipitous side of life every chance they get.
Adapted from Outside the Box by Dr Greg Smalley © 2016 All rights reserved. Used by permission from Focus on the Family.
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