Counselor's Notebook

Giving new meaning to the term "pen pal."

The problem: Lack of time together.

The goal: To regain a sense of connectedness.

The assignment: Start a communication log.

A husband was finding it hard to spend time with his wife, primarily due to their differing work schedules. He told me he felt like he was married to a pen pal.

Well, if being pen pals is all that's possible right now, run with it! Using a notebook left in a prominent place, make an entry during each "shift" you have at home. Each spouse reads the other's note during his or her off time. Then that person makes an entry for his or her mate to read.

No quickie entries are allowed. Instead, use the "big three" as a guide:

1. What you are thinking.

2. What you are feeling.

3. What you are doing.

Here are some other ideas for leaving meaningful messages:

—The hardest experience of the day.

—The best thing that happened that day.

—What your mate can do to make you feel supported, either emotionally or in practical matters.

—Anything significant that needs to be talked about the next time you are together.

—A message that will let your spouse know you love and miss him or her.

—Something funny—a joke or cartoon that you found amusing.

The example: Jim, a plant manager, and Mary, a nurse.

Jim worked the day shift and had enormous job responsibilities. Mary had an equally grueling job as an evening-shift nurse on an intensive care unit. Their work stress was incredible, not to mention the task of raising their children, their church responsibilities and the tensions that go along with just having bought a house.

All these distractions began to chip away at their marriage. They realized they knew their work associates better than they knew each other, and it scared them. Then they started keeping a communication log using the "big three" as a guide. As they began to read what was really on each other's minds, they felt their bond strengthening. The "out of sight, out of mind" feeling left them as they began to get to know each other again.

Dr. Michael Lace, a licensed clinical psychologist, works with couples and families in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He and his wife, Chris, have been married ten years.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Busyness; Communication; Marriage; Marriage Struggles
Today's Christian Woman, Summer, 1997
Posted September 12, 2008

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