If Your Spouse Becomes a Stranger

“I don’t even know who you are anymore.” Have you ever looked at your spouse–that person you’ve shared life’s chaos with and your kids with…but lately not much else–and felt like you no longer know each other? If you’ve been married with kids for more than a few months, you know your relationship can become a casualty of war as you battle to meet everyone’s needs in not enough time with even less energy. Sally Poyzer, author of  THAT BOOK FOR WIVES, knows a little bit about keeping that connection strong. She’s on The MOM Journey today to share an excerpt from her book. Welcome, Sally!

Avoiding Increasingly Separate Lives

Back in 2013, when Josh and I had been married for 14 years and my daughter was about four years old, God began to really challenge me about connection.

At that stage, evenings were busy. By the time I got my daughter in bed, the dishes done and the washing hung out, it would be about 9.00 PM. After that I’d be tired and I figured it was my chance to relax. I would read, go on the computer or watch TV with Josh. But often Josh was watching shows I didn’t really like so I started watching my own shows on our other little TV. I was quite happy with this arrangement as it gave me some time to myself and also let me catch up on some “chick flick” TV shows that I liked.

But after a while I began to realize we were living increasingly separate lives. In fact, that phrase kept bouncing around my head, “Increasingly separate lives, increasingly separate lives, increasingly separate lives.” This scared me. We still loved each other but were not really spending much time alone together.

Around this time I read His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley. This book really challenged me, and one of the things it spoke about was the need for men to have recreational companionship with their wives. I hadn’t realized that men really need and want to connect with their wives through leisure activities.

Before Josh and I had children, we had lots of leisure activities in common: going to the movies, camping, travelling, visiting art galleries, eating out, hanging out with our friends and so on. But once we had kids, all of these things were a lot harder, especially when they were young. We went to the movies maybe once a year. We went on a holiday to another state when our daughter was two years old. It was awful trying to keep her entertained in a motel room. We tried going to an art gallery and had to leave because she kept touching the expensive paintings. Eating out consisted of us trying to entertain her then scoffing our food as quickly as we could so we could leave. We quickly learned that these things weren’t fun anymore.

Reading Harley’s book made me realize that Josh and I had very few interests in common that we could enjoy together while our daughter was young. This was a worrying wake up call.

Harley was clear. He wasn’t saying that wives should just pretend to like doing the same things as their husbands. Nor that husbands should pretend to like things their wives enjoy. Instead he suggested that they should try to find new things they both like doing together.

I began praying about it. I asked God to show me what leisure activities I could try that Josh would like.

Shortly after this, Josh told me that cable was showing all of the new Dr. Who seasons from 2005 onward. Neither of us had watched the show, but Josh said he was going to record the episodes and give them a try. I was scornful: “Dr. Who?! That’s a show for nerds! Who wants to watch that?!”

Anyway, I saw some of the first two episodes and didn’t hate the show like I thought I would, but I also didn’t love it. Then one night Josh called out to me from the lounge that he was going to watch the third episode if I wanted to see it. I had just sat down at my computer in the study, about to get some work done that I really wanted to do. I remember sitting there, torn. I really did not care about ever watching Dr. Who and I did care about what I was working on. But tugging on my heart was the need to spend some “fun” time with my husband. So after a couple of minutes of too-ing and fro-ing, I somewhat begrudgingly went out and watched the third episode with him.

Click here to learn more!

But after a couple more episodes, I was hooked. I loved it! (And, before you mock me—if you’re a naysayer like I was—you can’t judge it until you watch it! It’s a great show!) Anyway, we then proceeded to watch seven seasons of Dr. Who together over the next few months.

If I had stayed at my computer that night and given up on Dr. Who, I shudder to think how many more nights over the next year we would have spent apart. Instead, most nights once all my work was done, I’d join Josh in the lounge room and we’d watch one, two or even three episodes. Together. We’d look at each other and laugh at the funny parts. We’d talk about the plot lines together. I began to feel so much closer to him. Our common interest was drawing us together. When Dr. Who finished (well, when Peter Capaldi took over as the Doctor and we lost interest) we started another TV series we both liked and so on.

Once I got the hang of this idea of making an effort to connect with my husband, rather than just expecting we’d miraculously have an awesome relationship while spending very little leisure time together, we began to find some other interests that we had in common. One of those was finding and playing really great board games – not the sort you find at a department store, but fantastic games from all over the world that are challenging and fun, like Splendor, Machi Koro and Pandemic. Learning the rules together, playing the games and then later teaching our friends all provided opportunities for us to connect, talk, laugh, and have fun. (Check out this list of the TOP-RATED BOARD GAMES IN THE WORLD.)

It’s been around four years since that indecisive night, and now we still spend nearly every evening together after our two kids go to bed. Instead of seeing the evenings as my time, I now see them as our time.

Guess what? I LOVE it!

And so does he.

If you’re finding that you and your husband are leading increasingly separate lives, I encourage you to pray. Ask God to help you find new leisure activities both you and your husband can enjoy together. Ask Him to help you give these things a try, even if they don’t seem like something you would enjoy. Then be on the lookout for opportunities to connect. You never know what it might be that you can find connection over. It might even be Dr. Who.

Sally Poyzer is a women’s pastor on a mission to help women enjoy being married. She was married at nineteen to Josh Poyzer, who is now the Senior Pastor of Portlife Church. They have been married over eighteen years and live with their two gorgeous children, Promise and Rockford, in Adelaide, South Australia. Visit Sally at www.sallypoyzer.com

How do you and your spouse keep the connection strong? If you need to reconnect, what activity could help you do that? To see how one amazing couple did it, check out “The Evolution of Date Night.”

Blessings!

15 Comments

  1. Lora Moses says:

    Loved this article! I’m anxious to see what ideas others will comment!

    • Karen Sargent says:

      Me, too! With hubby working two weeks of evenings each month, we are terrible at intentionally connecting. Our best effort is enjoying 15 minutes together over coffee on the mornings he is working days…but they are precious minutes! Thanks for reading and meeting Sally, Lora!

  2. Rebekah says:

    Staying up late does seem to lead to more husbandly chats and connection and especially hanging out without kids.

  3. LINDA WILSON says:

    I agree that’s what you have to do and she was a good writer thank you love u Karen

  4. Great post, thanks Sally. Love Doctor Who – even with Peter Calpaldi (it took a few episodes for me to warm to him). It can be hard to find those common interests but great when we do it. And as you say, it needs to be intentional rather than just allowing it to happen.

    • Sally Poyzer says:

      Ha, ha, maybe I should have persisted with Dr Who! I agree, it is challenging to find those common interests, I usually have to try something quite a few times before I enjoy it. It’s definitely worth putting the effort in, though!

  5. Adele says:

    Positive and meaningful connection is such an integral part of a strong marriage. How true that the feeling of ‘doing life separately’ can really sneak up on a couple until they suddenly realise they’ve lost their ‘togetherness’. I love the simple example given here of how to be strategic about maintaining a healthy connection with our spouse. Great post.

  6. This is a common problem. Even though I’m on my second marriage, with all children on both sides grown up, it can still be such a wake up call when you discover that the honeymoon is over, and you are two individuals with different likes and dislikes. In addition to finding new things that you both enjoy together, I think there also needs to be an equal share of ‘give and take’. Thank you for introducing us to Sally, Karen. A wonderful, thought provoking post.

    • Sally Poyzer says:

      Thank you Jo’Anne. Yes, we are definitely very different from our spouses, no matter how much we love them. Sometimes we just don’t realise that until we’re well into our marriage 🙂

  7. This article really spoke to me, Karen. My husband has mobility problems and uses a walking stick, so we can’t do a lot of active things together. Even taking a walk or anything involving standing around or using stairs is a problem. So we end up watching a lot of TV. We’ve watched almost all of the Dr Who episodes from the very first episode back in the 60s to the recent ones. All of the old ones were re-run on TV here before the new series was rebooted in 2005. We work from home, so try to have lunch together most days and watch an episode of a TV show we both enjoy. We’ve worked through several box sets, with favourites being Murdoch Mysteries, Stargate Atlantis, Sanctuary, Once Upon a Time and the original Star Trek. It really does make a difference. Sometimes at night I’m like you and would rather do something on the computer or read a book, but it’s good to push that away sometimes and spend quality time. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Whoops, I just read the fine print and saw that Sally wrote that post. Great post Sally, and thanks for hosting it Karen 🙂

  9. Sally Poyzer says:

    Thanks Nola! That must be challenging for you – it really narrows your options. Thank you God for TV and some great shows out there! Do you think you and your husband would enjoy board games at all? Splendor is definitely worth a purchase – we have played it lots of times together. Pandemic is also great, but a little bit of a longer game (around 1 hour for 2 players). Sometimes it’s nice to try something different from Monopoly and Scrabble…:-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.