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8 Ways to Find and Develop Things You Can Have in Common in Your Marriage
- What’s So Great about Matchbox Cars?
- 1. Schedule Time to Just Talk
- 2. Treat Each Other Like Best Friends
- 3. Start Fresh in Your Relationship
- 4. Try Some New Things Together
- 5. Get Involved With the Things that Your Spouse Likes
- 6. Reminisce Over Your Relationship History
- 7. Recognize and Rejoice Over Demonstrations of Love
- 8. Work On Your Faith Together
What’s So Great about Matchbox Cars?
I’m 4 years old and in the store with my mom. I’m riding in a shopping cart but not in the place where kids normally ride, I’m in the basket area where my mom always puts the stuff that she buys. The store is called K-Mart, it’s a huge store that has a little bit of everything. My mom likes to shop here because they have blue-light specials. What this means is, while you are shopping a blue light starts flashing in a certain area of the store and that meant there was a sale in that department. I loved it when the blue light came on because my mom would take off with me in the cart and it was like a rollercoaster ride!
But I like K-Mart because it has toys and my mom would take me down the toy aisles if I asked. I know we have everything that we need, but also know that we don’t always have extra. So I knew not to ask for any of the “big” toys but there was one little toy that was fairly cheap and I knew that if I asked for it, I was more likely to get it. Maybe you have heard of them, they are called Matchbox cars. They are these little diecast metal cars that come in all kinds of different types and colors. Sometimes I get the Hot Wheels, which are tricked out matchbox cars but are a few cents more. I was fine with just the plain Matchbox cars because they were just as fun!
When we get home I run straight outside with my new Matchbox car and my little collection in tow. My mom is watching me through the window over the kitchen sink while she catches up on the dishes. And when she is ready for me to come in she will holler my name out the window. If I don’t come in right away she will call out my full name JASON REGAN PARHAM. I know that means to run inside!
So I am outside playing with my Matchbox cars by myself at a stump. The stump was cool because my dad had cut down the tree and it was just an awesome place to play cars. Then I notice a big person jumping our chain link fence and coming into our yard. I don’t know him, but I know he is an older kid in our neighborhood.
That’s when something amazing happens, He walks up to me, gets on his hands and knees and offers to play Matchbox cars with me. I don’t know how long we are going to play but it is great just to have someone to play with. I know right now that I have a friend in this world.
Someday I would be a 44 year old man (don’t tell anyone my age because I look younger than I am!) digging through a big box of Matchbox cars finding the perfect cars for my three daughters. I will go home, get on my hands and knees, and play cars with them because I want to be like that friend who made a little boy’s day. And I hope someday, they will buy those little cars for their kids, and make their day. To some people those cars are just cheap little toys, but to me, they are points of connection with the people I love. And it’s those connections that make life worth living.
“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”
- Dr. Suess
My wife asked me this question a couple of weeks ago. “Do we have anything in common anymore?” I said “sure” then tried to name all the wonderful things we have in common. It was embarrassing after I said our children. I found some, but it did take me some time.
The world is truly a small place. With email, mobile phones, and social media networks you can connect with people all over the world instantly. But you can lose your connection with the person who is the closest to you.
Time, life, and responsibilities all have a way of disconnecting lovers. Even entertainment has become too personal over the past decade. Whether you are watching a show or playing a game you are probably doing it solo. Most couples are caught up in their own lives and entertainment online.
If you are not careful your love can get broken and you will find yourself married to a person that you feel like you have nothing in common with. It’s like everything pushes you apart and you lose that connection that made your love special to begin with. So what do you do when you wake one day and realize that you have nothing in common with your spouse? Ok, let’s figure this out together.
I have to admit that this is a recent struggle in my own marriage. Amber and I are looking for ways to reconnect with each other and discover more things that we have in common. So if you have an idea to help us you can leave a comment below.
1. Schedule Time to Just Talk
This is a big one. To have things in common you have to take the time to talk and listen to each other. But taking that time is the real challenge. Or maybe I should say making that time.
You have to be intentional about talking
Do whatever works for you but whatever you do, do something that works. You have to make time to talk to each other. Be sure to take turns talking and listening to each other. This is not good if one person just dominates the conversation! Here are some conversation starters that you may find helpful.
- How was your day?
- What are your plans for tomorrow? Be careful that this doesn’t come across as pressuring them, you don’t want to stress your spouse out.
- What was the best thing that happened to you today? My wife is a big college basketball fan. Every year after March Madness (the NCAA basketball tournament), someone makes a highlight video with all the big moments, it’s called “One Shining Moment”. So sometimes I will ask, “What was your one shining moment for today?” It could be something big or something small, but it was one good thing that happened.
- What are your favorite things we have done together? To think about our favorite times helps us to connect.
- What are some of the things you would like to do together? This could be anything, as small as walk around the block to weekend getaway.
I am sure there are many more. Do you have any conversation starter ideas? Just leave them in the comments below.
Talking Is What Makes Your Relationship Work
It’s what made your relationship to start with, even though the talks may have been a little bit corny at first. Let’s face it people act dumb when they are in love :-). Especially new love. But just talking is what matters the most. You just can’t have a relationship without talking to each other.
When you don’t take the time to talk it’s like you are smothering your love. And it won’t take long for that love to completely die out. Here are some things that can work against your relationship.
- Jobs- Your work schedule can impact your time to talk and affect your relationship. You just have to learn to be intentional in taking time to talk. You have to make that time. When you are making decisions in your working life, you should consider the impact the job will have on your marriage. If you absolutely cannot talk to your spouse, maybe you should consider some sort of career change to make this happen. Don’t let your career be the death of your love. In today’s high pressure economic times I think this happens more than is acknowledged.
- Entertainment- There was a time when a couple could sit down in their living room and watch a movie together. Now they watch movies separately on their personal electronic devices. It’s like you have a seperate electronic life. Sometimes it even replaces elements of a marriage relationship, although not in a healthy way. Romantic moments are replaced by love stories in a show, movie, or book. Unfortunately, they are unrealistic romantic moments that your spouse can’t live up to. Pronography replaces intimacy in marriage and it makes that intimacy something that your spouse could never live up to.
- Children- The very thing that makes a family, a family is the thing that is the most likely to pull you apart. Kids just take up so much of your time and resources that it becomes hard to make time for each other. But you have to find creative ways to make that time even when it seems like “work”. It’s true sometimes you have to work inorder to stay in love.
There is this country song that was released in 1990 that has been performed by several artists over the past couple of decades. I don’t necessarily endorse the song or anyone who sings it, but it illustrates this point. It’s titled “Ghost in the House” and the lyrics talk about a person in house who feels like they are completely ignored and irrelevant. This is the way that love in marriage can become. You just become like “ghosts” to each other. Living in the same house but not relating to each at all. You can make all the excuses that you want but the reality is that you are allowing your love to die.
If you don’t or won’t make the time to talk, you are signing a death wish for your love. You absolutely cannot have things in common if you are not talking. (So Schedule Time to Talk)
2. Treat Each Other Like Best Friends
Happy marriages are based on friendship. And friendship is the one thing that nothing in this world can take from you. In fact, the only thing that can take that away is you. I like the way the wife in the Song of Solomon said it.
“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”Song of Solomon 5:16
Friendship is the foundation
If you are going to have things in common, you are going to have to learn to be friends first. Friendship is the foundation of your love relationship. Without it everything else just crumbles. That’s because it was where your love started and if you lose it, you could lose everything.
The Friendship Foundation Chart illustrates this truth. Commitment, trust, and intimacy all sprung from your friendship. And if you take the friendship out of your relationship, you will eventually lose all three. Your commitment to each other is based on that initial friendship that you developed early in your relationship. If you take away that friendship, then that commitment has nowhere to ground itself. You can still be committed to each other but that commitment will become extremely vulnerable. You also trust one another because you built that trust through your friendship. When your friendship suffers, so does your trust. Even if your trust has been violated, you can rebuild it over time by first rebuilding your friendship. Intimacy grew out of your friendship as well. This includes both physical and emotional intimacy. It is cold, meaningless, and cheap without a deep friendship.
I can’t overstate how important it is to be friends before you are lovers. Because you can’t be lovers without being friends. And you just can’t have things in common without having that friendship first.
Make Your Spouse Your Most Important Friend
There was this trend that started a few years ago that has impacted the English language in a strange way. When mobile phones added the ability text, people started making up acronyms for common sayings. It makes sense because it makes texting more efficient. It’s just hard to keep up with all of them. Many of those acronyms have made it into general conversation. My daughters were caught up in the BFF craze. It means Best Friends Forever and is filled with pre-teen and teenage drama!
But your spouse should be your BFF. Their friendship should be more important than any other friendship you may have. It should even be more important than family. Your friendship is the most important thing that you have in common with one another and if you don’t protect it, you will lose it. If you think you don’t have anything in common anymore, you are probably not best friends anymore either. So treat each other like best friends and you won’t regret it.
3. Start Fresh in Your Relationship
When I was a young my parents bought me and my sister a Nintendo Gaming System. I talked about this in a story a few episodes back. But it was the first generation. The games were these large cassette looking things and so we would insert the game, push it down, then press the power button on the front of the console. Next to the power button and to the left was a button that said “RESET”. At first I didn’t know why that button was there but I soon found out. For whatever reason those games would just start messing up. They would freeze up, which was infuriating, or the graphics would just become distorted. This is why they put the reset button on the front. You could press that button and it would just start everything over. Sometimes I would have to take the game out and blow out all the dust and reinsert it to start over. But when things got messed up, the best thing to do was to just start over.
Marriage is kinda like that. When things start to get messed up, you may need to step back and hit the “RESET” button. It’s like saying, let’s let go everything and just give ourselves a fresh start together. So even if you have had some problems and things have not been all that great lately, you can just start over and make things better from that point on.
Starting Fresh Gives You a Chance to Clean Things Up
This gives you an excuse to make some things right and a reason to start doing things differently. It’s like when you get on the scales one day and realize how overweight you have become. You think wow, that’s it, I have got to change some things in my life. From now on, I am going to stop drinking sugary drinks and exercise everyday!
When you look at the condition of your marriage and you see all the things you have been doing wrong. You can just choose to do things differently from now on. The great thing is, that you CAN do this. You can turn things around, it takes some time but you can make your relationship special and have things in common again. I think sometimes people wait until their marriage is completely tanked before they start trying to fix things, you can do this, but it will just take more time. It is much better to recognize and accept that you have problems, then go ahead and work on those things.
Most married couples have two different identities, public and private. Most of the time we see the public profile. There’s the perfect couple on social media, or the happily married pious couple in church. But then there’s this ugly reality that all couples struggle in some ways. If someone acts like they have a perfect marriage, DON’T believe them because they don’t. Don’t be ashamed that you have things in your marriage because everyone does to some extent!
God Gives You a Fresh Start all the Time
One of the great things about being a Christian is knowing that God is waiting to give me a fresh start in my relationship with Him when I am ready to acknowledge and repent of my mistakes. This doesn’t give me a license to do wrong but it does give me the chance to restore my relationship with him.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.I John 1:9
There are times when I have gotten away from God and it took me some time to get that relationship back to what it was. But He is always waiting and willing for me to come back to Him. Loving each other can be the same way if you allow it. You can have a fresh start with each other by being ready and willing to forgive each other’s mistakes in your relationship.
If you feel like you just don’t have things in common anymore, instead of giving up, clean things up in your relationship and discover a fresh start together.
4. Try Some New Things Together
Trying new things together can create new experiences that you can then have in common.
Jesus Put Together an Unlikely Group of Disciples
I love the Bible stories of Jesus and His disciples. He found people that were completely different and put them together. It’s almost comical to think about. I personally think that God has a great sense of humor!
Ok, so He called fishermen, a tax collector, and a doctor. Then they all had such different personalities, Peter was a real talker (he talked without thinking), while John said very little, but obviously thought A LOT, (just read the book John). These guys had very little in common and under normal circumstances would have little to do with each other. But Jesus called them to follow and learn from Him.
All the new things that they experience together became points of common interests. By going different places, experiencing Jesus doing miracles, and hearing Him teach that had all those things in common and developed friendships based on those things.
Experience Some New Things Together
You can do the same thing in your marriage by trying some new things together. Try eating at a different restaurant, even if you don’t like it, you have gained a new experience with each other. If you are like us, we eat at the same places because we don’t want to be disappointed. But I have to admit, we have a lot of fun talking about how bad some of the new places we have tried were. And who knows you may find a new favorite place!
Sometimes you can just get your life in a rut by doing the same things all the time. Visit somewhere you have never been before. Do something new that neither of you has ever tried before and do them together. Just having those experiences can give you some new things to share in common.
5. Get Involved With the Things that Your Spouse Likes
This is one of those things that are really obvious but that is so easy to miss. Notice the things that your spouse likes to do, and try doing that thing with them. My wife is an awesome cook. She cooks classic homestyle meals that are just amazing! I found a love for cooking myself a couple of years ago, but I am more of an experimental cook. I find recipes online and put pieces together. Sometimes this works out great, other times not so great. But even though we are different styles of cooks and am able to help my cook meals sometimes. It’s a great way to spend time together and talk while you cook together.
Notice What Your Spouse Likes to Do
There are things that your spouse likes to do that you can try. Maybe your husband likes to fish and “gasp” you could try fishing with him. You never know, you may end up liking it. If your husband likes sports you could learn about the sports he is interested in and start enjoying it with him. Who knows if you understand more about how it works you may actually enjoy doing. Or if your wife likes to shop, you can try going with her. Although I don’t think I could handle this one. When I shop I treat it like a mission, with a strategy to get in and out as quickly as possible! 🙂
Learn to Develop Common Interests
Do you have anything in common with God? Other than the fact that man is made in his image (there is much debate about what that means) I am sure your answer is no. But as you read the Bible you discover things that God is interested in. If you become interested in the things that God is interested in then you will have those things in common. For example, God is holy, so if you start pursuing holiness in your heart and in your life, you have a common interest with God.
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.I Peter 1:15-16
God also interested in other people coming to faith in him, so if you become interested in other people turning to Him, you have that in common also.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.II Peter 3:9
So by becoming interested in the same things, you now have those things in common. Things work the same way in your marriage. If you can both develop common interests, those interests can become the point of connection that your relationship needs.
6. Reminisce Over Your Relationship History
There is nothing that you have in common more than the life you have shared together. Those memories are like the fingerprints of your relationship. They are what makes your lives together unique.
We had a long-distance relationship, my wife lived about 3 hours away while we dated. So we were married in her church near her house. Then we drove to our honeymoon destination which was a cabin about an hour from my house. We decided to spend the night at our new house since it was on the way to our honeymoon. The thing is, we didn’t want anyone knowing that we were doing that. Because we were on our honeymoon! We parked in the backyard and that night refused to turn on any lights because we didn’t want anyone interrupting our honeymoon time! I don’t think anyone knew where we were or even where we were going.
Talk About Your Relationship Memories
Sit down and talk about the things that have happened in your relationship. I am sure that you will find that most of those things are good, but even the challenging things that happened are moments that you shared together. Your history together is a common point of interest that you both have. So you do have something in common- the time you have spent together. And by reliving those moments you have an opportunity to connect with each other.
If you are having trouble talking, try writing it down first, or putting your memories of a moment you shared together in a card. Starting anywhere is better than not starting at all.
Memorizes Are An Important Part of Your Relationship with God
In the Old Testament, God miraculously brought the people of Israel across the Jordan river and into Canaan (the promised land). When they all made it across, they piled 12 stones at the place where they stayed that night. (see Joshua 4) These stones were designed to be a reminder to the people of what God had brought them from. So when they saw those stones, they could remember what happened.
The longer I am a Christian, the more “stones” I have to put down in my promised land, the more memories of all the things God has helped me through. Those memories are what I have that connect me to God. I remember what it was like before I knew Him. I remember all the things we have overcome together. My relationship with Him is built on those memories. When I think back on those things it makes me appreciate knowing Him even more.
Something similar happens in marriage. Those memories of making it together become the things that connect you. You have your past together as a couple in common, so use that past to make your relationship something incredible.
7. Recognize and Rejoice Over Demonstrations of Love
Sometimes, the things that you miss are the most valuable things to your relationship. When your spouse does something just for you, take the time to recognize it and allow that act of love to become a point of common interest. Even if it is something small (it may not be so small to your spouse) use that act to build up your relationship with one another.
There is no worse feeling than when you offer love and it is not returned. This is a simple concept but years of marriage can rob this from you. When your spouse does something for you don’t dismiss it, instead rejoice over that act of love. These things can even become a point of connection if you allow it.
Learn How to Demonstrate Your Love
Do special things for your spouse that have no direct benefit to you. This is when you give and expect nothing in return. Maybe you save your money and buy something for your spouse. Or you do your spouse’s part of the housework for them. Or you offer your spouse an unsolicited back rub. Even the small things are a great way to show your love. How about some flowers and a card for your wife? (bonus points for chocolate) Or how about giving your husband your undivided attention for a while?
Just thinking about doing things for your spouse can change your relationship for the better. But whatever you do, just do something special for your spouse and that thing you do can become a point of common interest.
Learn How to Accept Demonstrations of Love
The best way to reciprocate an act of love is by showing your gratefulness. Recognize the nice, thoughtful things that your spouse does for you. This is kind of basic, but if you want your spouse to do things like that for you, showing your appreciation for it will encourage them to do it more often!
If you wonder why your spouse has stopped doing things for you, you can probably find the root in your ungratefulness. Why would they continue doing things for you if you don’t even recognize it when they do?
Understand How Important These Demonstrations Are
The Bible makes the point of how important it is not just say that you love, but that you demonstrate that love.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.I John 4:10
Not only did God say that He loved you, but he demonstrated that love by sending His Son to die for your sins. So when you demonstrate your love by doing something for your spouse you are following the Biblical Model. And when you recognize and rejoice over those demonstrations you are creating a point of common interest in your relationship. You have those demonstrations of love in common with each other.
8. Work On Your Faith Together
If you don’t feel like you have anything in common, you can work on your faith together. This is a great way to have things in common even if you seem to not have other things in common. Is there a greater thing to have in common than following the Lord together?
Here are some ways you can work on your faith together:
- Pray for each other.
- Pray with each other.
- Get on a Bible reading plan together. Reading through the book of Proverbs is a great way to start because you can read a chapter a day that corresponds with a chapter of Proverbs. So if today is the 12th day of the month, you would read Proverbs 12.
- Talk about things that God is doing in your life with your spouse. Talk about things you are praying about and prayers that God answers for you both.
- Go to church together.
- Get involved with a ministry together.
By doing things like this you are not only building your faith but developing things you have in common. Even if your spouse doesn’t share your faith right now, by praying for them you are developing an interest in their spiritual well-being that connects you to them. Even if they may not fully realize how it is connected. And by showing them your faith, you could be instrumental in turning them to faith in Christ.
These are all things you can have in common. If you know more things or these things have helped you are welcome to add your own comments below.
- Learn How to Demonstrate Your Love
- Learn How to Accept Demonstrations of Love
- Understand How Important These Demonstrations Are
Music by Wes Hutchinson