What is it, anyway?
My husband and I are just one month away from our seventh year anniversary of marriage. I’ve heard people speak of this “seven-year itch” that is somewhat common around this time. The other day I decided to google exactly what that meant and how common it tends to be. The information on the interwebs suggested that it’s usually around the seven-year mark of marriage when everything starts to decline and become less exciting. Husbands and wives tend to start feeling some sort of dullness and start seeking out new excitement. Although no marriage is perfect and every relationship has its ups and downs (us included!), I thoroughly examined my heart and (thankfully) realized I’m not feeling “itchy” at all. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. I’ll let you in on some things I’ve learned along the way that have likely contributed to that, and hopefully it will lead to some encouragement and help YOU not succumb to the seven-year itch either.
1. Say “I love you”.
And say it often. Daily. Several times a day. Tell your husband how much he means to you and how much you love him. This cannot be communicated enough. And although it can be easy to let it roll off the tongue and become more of a habit versus heartfelt, I challenge you (at least once a day!) to grab his attention and look purposefully in his eyes and say it with as much love as you can muster in that moment. Leave him love notes or send texts telling him how much he means to you. And women, men desire so much to feel respected. Find ways to let your man know how much you respect him and why . . . hard worker, great daddy, servant’s heart, kind, welcoming, loving, good listener, etc. More often than not, this practice will be very welcomed and reciprocated.
2. Talk often. Touch even more.
Intentionality within marriage is like setting a foundation of stone where sand desires to lie. Don’t just assume. Be aware. Be thoughtful. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in your spouse’s day. It’s easy when my husband gets home from work to want to immediately start unloading my crazy day of mom-ing first and focus only on how hard it’s been and how exhausted.I.am. But, I’ve learned that something as simple as stopping whatever I’m doing when he walks through the door and giving him a smile and a kiss as a way of welcoming him home means even more . . . and I’m talking a real kiss, Ladies. *wink* Not just a peck and then hurrying back to whatever I’m doing. And mamas, I know how busy (and overwhelmed) we can be, especially with hungry babies pulling on our legs while we are desperately trying to get dinner on the table while simultaneously preventing an episode of Lord of the Flies from occurring. I get it. But this small gesture of love and respect takes maybe 30 seconds . . . maybe 1 minute. And it can start to turn an exhausting, treacherous day into a delightful one.
And if you’re not talking, you’re certainly not touching. Sex is fun and has tremendous power to join together the heart of husband and wife. Have sex with your husband, and have it often! And Ladies, INITIATE. Yep, I said it. Don’t always wait for your husband to start the romantic adventure. I once heard someone say in regards to sex, there are going to be times when you/he just need a quick drive through McDonald’s and other times when you’re looking for and needing a steak dinner . . . welcome both! Set your mind to make it a priority. You’ll be surprised at how close you’ll feel to your husband the more often you are intimate together.
3. Don’t fear counseling.
Ladies, we all know this. Marriage is HARD. Bringing two independent thinkers and doers into a relationship where you now have to think of each other first and serve one another while (possibly) raising babies and dealing with everyday life stressors . . . gets.difficult.at.times. And as women, we can easily shut down (or blow up!) if we don’t feel we are being heard or served or loved well. We can easily start blaming our husbands and allowing those thoughts — you know what thoughts I’m talking about — to creep in. Catch it here. Seek out guidance and counseling early. The majority of the time it’s a communication issue, not a lack of love issue. And getting some good, sound counseling early on (or at whatever stage!) can really help solidify your foundation and teach you both how to better communicate, live together well, and serve one another. My husband and I went to counseling early on in our marriage and it was one of the greatest blessings. (As it turns out, stomping out of a room, slamming doors, and leaving the house never worked or benefitted either of us. Can you relate?)
4. Struggle well . . . together.
This really hinges on all of the above. Listen, Friends. Based on the level of struggle and heartache we’ve had in our marriage just from walking through infertility alone, we could easily be dunzo. Statistics would tell you the trial of infertility ruins many marriages. But so does any stressor and heartache, if you let it. We chose to seek each other’s hearts out during our trial . . . talking often, praying together, crying together, lifting one another up. We didn’t pull away from each other when it got hard. Instead, we clung to one another and to the Lord as you would a life preserver. And we both can say today, it has strengthened our marriage, and we feel so much closer because of it.
5. Hold your tongue.
I love nothing more than meeting up with my girlfriends for lunch or having a girls’ night out and enjoying just plain ole’ girl time! I love my women friends. Talking for hours, sharing our hearts, and catching up is just balm to my sometimes weary soul. But, it can also be the very time when it becomes too easy to complain about our husbands, am I right?! It’s just having a little fun and looking for some camaraderie or solidarity, right? Trust me, I have personally witnessed this very thing ruin marriages, especially if your confidantes are agreeing with you. I was counseled early on to always hold my husband in a place of respect, especially before others, and to never gossip or complain about him to friends, or anyone. It never does your marriage good to berate your husband to your friends. Not only does it not help you think well of your husband, but it also taints how your friends feel about him. This can create the tiny cracks, built up over time, that lead to full on shattering. We can control that.
6. Figure out common interests, or just get interested.
Allow me to tell you two things I NEVER would have thought I’d enjoy before marriage. Formula 1 racing and Basketball. My word. But my husband LOVES both. I decided one day that if it’s important to him, then it’s important to me. So I started watching with him . . . and lo and behold, I got into it. Now, do I EVER watch it when he’s not around? NO. But have I learned enough about who’s playing, driving, etc. to get excited with him, enjoy it while WE are watching it, and be able to have a decent conversation about it? YES. And just so you ladies know . . . that goes both ways! We watch plenty of HGTV, too. The point is, find something that interests you both, and become genuinely interested in something your spouse is interested in. It can be a happy glue within your marriage.
7. Make a list and make some time.
Take time to write down everything you love about your husband. Put it somewhere you can easily find it and look at it often. Daily. Weekly. Tell him some of those things from time to time or even read him the whole list when you have some alone time. You will not always feel especially saucy or romantic in marriage, but this helps! Your thoughts carry much weight and how you think can influence how you feel. Speaking of alone time, remember I told you we went through counseling early on in our marriage? Do you want to know some of the poignant pieces of advice we were given? Talk every night before going to bed, and date one another. Make time for each other without the kids, without others. GO ON DATES. And we were also told to set aside two times a year (Spring and Fall) to sit down over a cup of coffee or have a weekend getaway and be intentional to talk about our marriage — goals, what’s working, what’s not. Bottom line: Make it a priority to connect with one another.