Six Steps for Couples Who Have Drifted Apart

Keren Kanyago

June 4, 2023

Suzy’s tears flowed freely as pain welled up in her heart. So much had changed since she tied the knot seven years ago. She felt lonely, resentful, and discontented in her marriage. The strong connection she once shared with her husband had long dissipated like smoke in the wind. They were now living like mere roommates, and she loathed it. Like many other couples, they had drifted apart.

There are many reasons why couples drift apart and top among them is when they stop prioritizing their marriage. At first, we put a lot of attention into dating, planning a wedding, and learning to live as a couple. It's all new! So most of us kick off marriage remarkably in sync with our spouses, like two cute peas nestled in a pod. With time, however, our focus may shift to new challenges like raising kids, our jobs, furthering our studies, and other responsibilities. All these are important, but our marriages too should rank high in our priorities for investment. My pastor aptly says that although marriage works, it must be made to work. Here are six things to consider if you and your spouse have drifted apart.

1. Take the First Step

Do you feel discontent in your marriage? Don't wait for your spouse to patch things up. Be the first to take a step and reach out to them. Don't allow your ego and entitlement to stand in your way. Paul urged the Philippian church to do nothing through selfish ambition but to esteem others above themselves (Philippians 2:3). Esteeming your spouse above yourself will help you subdue pride and entitlement.

Jesus set us a perfect example of humility. Although he was God, he emptied himself of his reputation and took the form of a servant, humbling himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:6-8). This wasn't by any means easy for him. However, for the joy set before him, he endured the cross and despised the shame (Hebrews 12:2). If Jesus could humble himself to redeem mankind, you too can embrace humility and initiate change in your marriage.

2. Spend More Time Together

Not spending enough time with your spouse will naturally make the two of you drift apart. It's important to carve out daily and weekly time to connect with your spouse. Spending time with your spouse helps nurture your friendship and helps you prioritize each other.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mathew 6:21).

If you and your spouse have drifted apart, Marriage Builders recommends that you squeeze in twenty-five to thirty hours of undivided attention each week to help jumpstart the relationship. For couples in a working relationship, they recommend fifteen hours weekly. Consider activities that will help you spend time together such as date nights, leisure walks, road trips, shared hobbies, and weekend getaways among others.

3. Put Your Phone Down

Sadly, our phones have become a huge barrier to intimacy in many marriages. You could be in the same room with your spouse but your mind could be miles away as you scroll through your social media feed. This may make your spouse feel disrespected, ignored and may even injure their trust in you. If your phone has driven a wedge between you and your spouse, you need to enforce certain measures. You could for instance agree that neither of you will use their phones when you are together. You could also agree that some rooms and spaces will be screen/phone free like the bedroom and kitchen.

4. Embrace Effective Communication

Clear and prompt communication with your spouse is critical in keeping you connected to them. It enhances trust, respect, and honesty. Constant communication kept your relationship alive while you were dating. Snuffing it out in marriage will only serve to drive a wedge between you. Couples should dedicate regular time to communicate and iron out any misgivings between them.

Effective communication with your spouse helps avoid unnecessary strife in marriage thereby saving you time. It also helps fortify your emotional connection as it keeps you updated on each other's lives. Here are some tips for effective communication in marriage.

  • Clearly articulate your views and concerns
  • Do not sweep things under the rug
  • Don't give one another the silent treatment
  • Keep in touch while away from each other through texts and calls
  • Update your spouse on your daily schedule
  • Listen carefully when they talk
  • Reflect back the emotions you heard “That sounds… frustrating, exciting, frightening”
  • Address the issue in contention without attacking the person
  • Check your tone
  • Uphold respect

Marriage is the most intimate human relationship and you cannot be one with your spouse without proper and constant communication.

5. Pursue Spiritual Intimacy

Spiritual Intimacy is connecting with your spouse through your Christian faith. Though often neglected, it's of utmost importance as it appeals to a couple's deepest core values. Successful marriages have God at their center. As each spouse pursues God in a vertical relationship, they are empowered to relate well with their spouse in the horizontal relationship.

Spiritual intimacy allows couples to grow together in their faith and gives them a shared purpose for their marriage. It also builds trust and deepens their commitment to each other. Spiritual intimacy can insulate a marriage from drifting apart and other challenges. It can be nurtured by practicing the following:

  • Attending church together
  • Praying for and with each other
  • Encouraging each other
  • Studying the Bible together
  • Holding conversations about God together
  • Serving God together

6. Rekindle Physical Intimacy

Though a critical pillar in marriage, physical intimacy tends to taper off as couples drift apart. It encompasses the connection made through touch by holding hands, hugging, cuddling, as well as sexual intercourse. Physical intimacy helps build trust, evokes positive emotions, and builds emotional intimacy. It can include sex but it is richer than just sex and can be more permanent in the varying seasons of marriage.

You can gradually re-introduce touch into your marriage by practicing gestures like holding your spouse’s hand, sitting close to them, stroking their hair, and rubbing their back. With time, you are both able to do it with ease. Sex is also of great importance in a marriage as it is the sacred seal of the marriage covenant between a man and his wife. A man leaves his parents to be joined to his wife and they become one flesh (Mathew 19:5-6).

The sexual act has far-reaching physical and spiritual ramifications for those who engage in it. So much so that Paul warned that anyone who joined themselves to a harlot became one with her (1 Corinthians 6:16). In marriage, sex helps to keep a couple tightly bound to each other and insulates them against sexual temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5). It is therefore worth prioritizing.

When a marriage is left unattended, drifting apart is inevitable. The above steps can help you bridge the gap between you and your spouse. You may also consider seeing a marriage therapist to help you navigate your challenges.

About the author — Keren Kanyago

Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected]

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