Mom and Dad, Be Otters!

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Take a lesson from otters about staying connected to your spouse.

I’m a sucker for furry woodland creatures. Especially the affectionate ones. It’s a little known fact of nature that sea otters hold hands while sleeping so they don't drift away from each other. Besides being an adorable reminder of the kind and gentle Creator God we serve, as I’ve mulled this little factoid over in my brain a pearl has emerged. Here it is: As I swim the often choppy waters of life, I need to hold my husband’s hand.

I don’t mean that as a metaphor. I mean that I literally need to hold my man’s hand. Otherwise, there is a real risk of drifting.

We are the proud parents of two toddlers. No doubt about it, children are a blessing, but parenthood takes a lot out of me. And it takes a lot out of him. There are many other things that we must be doing with our hands as we parent—correcting, wiping, praying, washing, dishing out snacks, and the occasional wringing. With our hands so busy in activity toward our kids, we rarely find times to lace fingers with each other. After years of that inattention, a space tends to emerge between moms and dads.

It is this phenomenon I imagine, that leads many couples to separate between years fifteen and twenty. The kids leave the house, hands become stilled, and suddenly the gulf that has emerged between husband and wife while being mommy and daddy seems insurmountable. I’m not trying to fear-monger, but losing intimacy during child-rearing years is a real threat, and I want to be proactive to stop it. I bet you do too.

The tendency to drift is not limited to parents of young children. Maintaining intimacy is tough in marriage in every stage. Our sin nature begs us to pursue selfish desires and to value individualism above partnership. Life is hard, and the pulls of work and family can cause separation.

But at some point, we looked our spouse in the eye and vowed to love, honor, and cherish them for life. Go ahead, let your mind flash back to that moment. What were you doing when you said those words? I bet you were holding hands!

That’s why I’m making an effort to hold hands with my husband. It’s a simple step—and one that isn’t likely to prevent all the marriage obstacles we will face—but the point is to stay connected so the waves of life don’t divide what God has brought together.

Tonight during dinner, I am going to simply reach for my husband’s hand under the table. It might only last a second before a juice cup gets spilled or another helping needs dished out, but that moment may be enough to stop the drifting for the moment and remind me why I agreed to float through life with this man in the first place.

What can you do today to stay connected to your spouse?

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