I’m not clear, exactly, how it happened, but slowly, over the last year or more, Matt and I fell out of our healthier evening habits of reading books and turning in relatively early. This wasn’t intentional; we just found ourselves so worn out and weary after we’d said our last goodnight to the kids that the only thing we were good for was watching a show or two (or five!) before switching off the lights.

“But, hey, we watch them together,” we’d say to make ourselves feel better about this less- than- optimal routine. “Nothing wrong with a little veg- out,” we’d add as he grabbed his computer and found the spot we’d left off in our latest series.

And it’s true. I don’t believe there’s anything inherently wrong with watching an entertaining show to unwind from time to time. But what had started as a small escape slowly became an hours- long nightly ritual for us. We were too tired to talk, too burned out to open a book. We just wanted to turn off our minds and turn on the screen.

But our evening binge wasn’t as harmless as we first believed, because I found myself missing our end- of- the day conversations. Yes, we were both enjoying the same shows, but this kind of entertainment is hardly a satisfying substitution for heart connection. Yet what do you do when the day is done and you still have a couple of hours to kill before it’s legit to hit the lights?

We are women, uniquely created by God. It’s only natural that we’d want this level of connection because God…

That’s what kept me awake one night, well after we’d kissed goodnight. I tried to think back to before— back to when we’d begun our now nightly routine. What did we use to do? Matt and I both enjoy reading, so that was something we’d turn to— and share with each other— after our kids had gone upstairs. But currently? We still like to read, but we can’t seem to keep our eyes open past a page or two.

All right, then what else? And that’s when it came to me. Games. We both grew up playing cards and board games. And so it was only natural for us to do the same after we were married. People seemed puzzled when we told them we’d packed Boggle (a fast-paced word game) for the Maui portion of our honeymoon. We played for hours on the balcony overlooking those white sand beaches. Crazy and a little competitive, but we loved it— and each other.

The morning following my sleepless night, I walked upstairs to search the game closet and, sure enough, found the Super Scrabble game. While this had never been my favorite game (it moves too slowly, and besides, Matt always wins), it seemed like the right choice for now.

That night after dinner, I suggested, “How about a rousing game of Scrabble?” He nodded, and we dusted off the box and started setting up the tiles. Only a few minutes later and we were back in the groove, playing the game for nearly two hours.

We laughed. We playfully argued. We debated over what counted as a real word (did you know that aw is in The Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary and is worth five points?). We groaned when six of the seven tiles turned out to be vowels. And I let out a small shriek when he took over my triple word score with glaze (seventeen points multiplied by three!).

He won the game, just like old times. But somehow I didn’t mind so much.

I loved that we went to bed with a fresh connection we hadn’t felt in a while. Much of the richness of married life is found in the everyday routines of two hearts purposing to draw near to each other. But the years have revealed something that was not immediately apparent to me as a younger wife; I’ve discovered that it’s often the woman who strongly pursues that “drawing near,” proactively suggesting positive ways to connect.

 Longing for Connection

Do you feel that yearning in your heart? We are women, uniquely created by God. It’s only natural that we’d want this level of connection because God, in His creative wisdom and gracious goodness, chose to place this desire in our hearts. It is how we were made, right

from the very beginning. When the desire for deep connection fills your thoughts, you are experiencing the authentic reality of how God designed you:

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Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
— Genesis 2:23

Adam, the first man (ish), awakened to discover this beautiful woman (isshah— “out of man”) who was made from his very substance— from a portion of his body, removed from his side and fashioned into his wife by the hand of God. Everything about this momentous meeting shouted connection— linguistically, physically, and spiritually. These two were “one flesh” (2:24); two people, so close in every way that they were also one single entity.

Is it any wonder that you look at that man across the room— your very own ish (how’s that for a term of endearment?)— and desire a deeper connection?

The Connection Experiment

A while back, I heard an online writer friend talk about how she and her husband, while navigating rough waters in their community, had taken to show- binging in bed until they fell asleep. I didn’t say anything to her back then, but I now confess that I silently disapproved of such a seeming waste of time.

Never realizing this would become Matt and me only a few years later.

Matt and I were both approaching what could well be called burnout and simply didn’t want to think anymore. Couldn’t think anymore. Getting lost in some other story than our own felt like a break for our minds.

This wasn’t the end of the world. But it’s not a place we wanted to stay either. We needed to get back to better habits and return to those activities that helped us connect before turning out the lights. The game of Scrabble might sound like an odd place to start, but it’s been good for us. And since then we’ve learned a few new games, resumed reading, and added inviting friends over again in the evenings.

We also still watch a show from time to time. But we’re determined to keep close and connected however we spend our evenings together.

Your Flirtation Experiment

If you’re needing more connection, don’t hesitate. Be enthusiastic and purposeful in taking that step. Don’t wait for your husband to act, and don’t wait until everything “clicks” back on its own (it won’t); just do it.

Is there a game you both could play? An audiobook to listen to together? A new dessert recipe to try and for him to taste the results? Do you both enjoy music? Why not suggest you both pick out two songs to listen to together. After each song plays, share why you chose that song and why it’s meaningful to you. Or perhaps he likes working out or jogging and wouldn’t mind a gym buddy.

Set aside some time to brainstorm things that will bring connection your heart and build relationship. Write out as long of a list as you can, including past activities and those on your would- be bucket list. Then pick one and start in.

You might want to give your husband a heads- up on what you’re thinking to prepare him for your proposed change. But then again, you might not. Every husband is different, but Matt prefers I simply suggest a game to play than sit down and give him an hour of tearful thoughts on our terrible habits (inevitably translated, “You’re not doing a good job in our relationship,” even if we’re both at fault).

Is your husband distracted, too busy, or simply unaware? Waiting around for his next move that may never come will only bring pain and resentment. Maybe he will come through, but why wait? Nowhere in the Bible are you told to be passive. You have no reason not to act, and there’s no wisdom in waiting to initiate your desire for connection with him.

Adapted from the Flirtation Experiment (c) 2022 Lisa Jacobson and Phylicia Masonheimer, published by Harper Collins. Used with permission.