By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
If you haven’t seen NBC’s smash hit This Is Us, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of it. The emotionally charged drama follows Jack Pearson, his wife Rebecca and their kids, Kevin, Kate and adoptee, Randall. The show focuses on the Pearson family in different points in their lives. It goes from the parents' point of view, to the children's point of view, all in different time periods showing the aging, growth, and progression of the characters.
What plays out in all of the character’s lives is how they manage to rekindle emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy; and This Is Us fans tune in each week because we identify with the feelings and struggles that unfold in each episode.
It causes us to pause and apply what we’ve learned to our marriage because we are aware of the statistics of divorce. We’re aware of how easy it is to drift apart and we want to have a good marriage that lasts until death do us part.
Intimacy is the glue that tethers our mind, body, and soul to our spouse. Intimacy is when we feel a deep bond with our spouse. It feels warm, affectionate, like our spouse understands our heart and soul like no one else can.
One of the shows many strengths is the fresh, honest, and authentic look into the marriage of Jack and Rebecca. Jack is a devoted, loving and sacrificial husband who literally walks through fire for his family while Rebecca is an equally loving, talented wife.
While you may not relate to giving birth to triplets in the 80’s, couples can relate to the struggles, triumphs and heartbreaks that are unique to marriage. Their children aren’t spared from suffering and all of them carry the weight of their worst decisions. All three siblings struggle in their relationships and marriages.
We can relate to the Pearson’s because the show understands what it means to live in a fallen world where horrible things happen to us, self-imposed and not.
Whether it’s Kate’s gluttony, Jack’s alcoholism, Rebecca’s cancer scare, or Randall’s anxiety, the Person’s confront life’s challenges and show us in depth, honest, gritty look how to rekindle intimacy in your marriage no matter the challenges we face. Here’s the 4-1-1 on rekindling intimacy in your marriage from This Is Us.
Resist Entering into a Critical Mindset
Even though the characters in This Is Us are just that, “characters”, one thing rings as true in their marriages as our own: they are married to imperfect people. The Bible calls you to still respect and appreciate your very imperfect spouse. This is true whether you’re a husband (1 Peter 3:7) or a wife (Eph. 5:33).
Randall learns this lesson as it plays out in front us when he leaves a voice message for his wife, Beth. He lashed out at her when he thought she had blown off a work dinner party and he desperately needed his wife to be there. When she doesn’t arrive on time and fails to answer her phone, Randall leaves the voicemail: “I hope that you’re having fun teaching bored housewives how to twirl better. Grow the h*** up, Beth.”
What Randall doesn’t know is that Beth was on her way. She got caught in traffic because of an accident and her phone had died. The lesson we walk away with is this: Resist the urge to enter into a critical mindset. Nothing kills intimacy faster than critical words and actions. Your spouse needs you to believe the best of them at all times.
If you feel distant from your spouse, take stock of how critical you are. It may not be obvious like the blatant voicemail Randall left but it could be other thoughts spoken or unspoken. This extreme example teaches us that our hearts dismiss our own faults while magnifying the flaws our spouse. Sometimes we need an extreme example to show us how dark our own hearts really are.
When spouses magnify or zero-in on their spouse’s flaws and mistakes, it becomes the wedge that causes your partner to pull away because they feel unappreciated, hurt, emotionally and spiritually breaking your marriage.
Begin to change your mindset. Go back to the qualities you loved about your partner when you first fell in love. Rebuild your intimacy by sending a text or telling your partner what you admire about them. In other words, accept the call to praiseworthy thinking about your spouse.
Philippians 4:8 is relevant for marriage just as it is to life: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
You will have to fight the natural human tendency to pull a “Randall” and obsess over your mate’s weaknesses. Affirm your spouse’s strengths and make the daily spiritual choice of focusing on your spouse’s qualities. This will ignite the flames to rekindle intimacy in your marriage--but keep in mind it will take time.
Fight with All You Have
One day Jack and Rebecca can’t keep their hands off each other, and then we flash forward to several years into their marriage when physical intimacy in all forms is on ice. Just like real life, we can’t seem to keep our hands off each other but sooner or later parenting, bills, work, and other stressors begin to chip away at the strong intimacy you once had.
In one episode, Jack forgets to kiss Rebecca goodbye before work. We then see that Miguel, Jack’s best friend and co-worker, begins to flirt openly with his secretary. Jack is a witness to the young perky assistant fixing Miguel’s tie when she utters these toxic’s words, “Your wife would’ve fixed that for you.”
Jack realizes he could be in Miguel’s shoes if he isn’t intentional about connecting with his wife. He begins to fight for his marriage. He doesn’t want his marriage to head down the same path as his friend. So, he begins to fight with the gloves off to reconnect. Here’s how you can do that:
Honestly evaluate yourself and ask God what needs to change in you before pointing out what needs to change in your spouse.
Use the “I feel” statements instead of “You” statements when communicating. “I feel” statements acknowledge that feelings are different than facts, so starting sentences with “I feel…” instead of outright blaming your spouse for things allows room for their side of the story to be expressed and miscommunications/intentions to be cleared up before blame is wrongly assigned.
Guard your marriage. It is vulnerable to Satan because your marriage is valuable to God. If the enemy can create distance, there is no doubt it will erode the intimacy between you and your spouse. Guard against tempting relationships, commitments that take too much time and energy away from your marriage, and anything that Satan could take advantage of to drive a wedge.
It’s easy to call it quits, but when the going gets tough, you are responsible for your thoughts, actions and choices. Every marriage experiences difficulty. Those trials are meant to deepen our love for our spouse--just as trials are meant to deepen our relationship with Christ (1 Corinthians 7:28).
How to Cope When Your Marriage Lacks Intimacy
If you find at the end of the day that no amount of effort is reciprocated, there’s a few things you can do. Remember God’s got this and keep your faith in Him even when it feels like your marriage is falling apart. Consider seeing a Biblical Counselor for yourself and when you feel ready, invite your spouse. Keep in mind that you can only control you.
You can also consider the following:
- Ask yourself and your partner how you both got here.
- Discuss your needs openly with each other.
- Don’t blame your spouse for the situation. Ask yourself what was your role in this?
- Pray over your spouse and for your spouse.
- Pursue your spouse.
Couples that desire to return to the closeness they once had can make it happen by dedicating time and energy into their marriage. Break out of the rut you may be in and do something different.
Choose to focus on the good qualities of your spouse, choose to be more affectionate, and choose to pray for your spouse. And if the mood strikes you, watch an episode of This Is Us together, and be sure to hold hands while taking notes.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is an author and a former national award-winning journalist. Her work has also been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at heatherriggleman.com or connect with her on Instagram.
Photo Credit: ©NBC