by Tim Hogan, Victoria Coyne and
the St. Paul Parish Mom’s Group
It is now clear from the research that the key to growing a healthy marriage and raising healthy kids centers around our ability to stay emotionally connected, especially during times of transition. Yet, it can be challenging to know how to do this. Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend some time with a group of family relationship experts, the St. Paul Parish Mom’s Group. We asked them to share their favorite recipes for getting and staying connected with their spouse and children. This is what we learned:
How to Get and Stay Connected with Family Members
First, it is crucial to stay physically connected. Therefore, take every opportunity to kiss, hug and touch each other. Give bear hugs, swirl children around and wrestle with them whenever you can. Hold hands; lay your hands on them while blessing them, and rub their back while falling asleep or waking up.
Second, love them up with words and songs. Remind them what you like about them. Always say “I love you” when saying goodbye. Sing to them, even making up songs that are just about them. Tell them stories about yourself or about them when they were younger. Read poetry or stories to them when hanging out. Pray out loud for and with them every chance you get.
Third, ask great questions and become a great listener. Ask them to tell you about their day. Ask them at the end of the day what things they are grateful for, and what worries them. Ask creative “what would you do if …?” questions. Pray about both before kissing them goodnight.
Finally, surprise your spouse and kids often. Leave notes communicating love and encouragement that they’ll find it later in the day, such as on the steering wheel, in their wallet, briefcase, or lunch bag. Sneak their favorite snack into their lunch or briefcase, or make their lunch special by cutting their sandwich with a cookie cutter.
How to Improve Your Connection with your Spouse
Spouses have incredible power to bless each other. Learn how to become your spouse’s “go to” person. Learn two or three things that always help your spouse to relax and “reset” their heart; then initiate or encourage your spouse to do these things. Consider encouraging them to exercise, pray, hang out with a good friend, pet the dog or just take a
breather. Invite them to cuddle, dance, make love, watch something funny on YouTube or TV, pray, or just tell you about their day. Or, simply bless them by cleaning the house, preparing their favorite meal, or doing one of their least favorite chores.
Spouses can also improve connection by creating special rituals for saying “goodbye” and “hello”. For example, before saying goodbye, try simply taking twenty seconds to make eye
contact, say “I love you”, and hold each other for ten seconds. Repeat this when returning home. Many couples also find it helpful to also add a short prayer during these times of separation and reunion.
It is easy to forget how much power and influence we have to bring love, healing and passion to those we love. Why not do something right now to show someone how much you love them?