Beyond ‘The Spark’: Sustaining Meaningful Connection in Marriage

Mar 7, 2024 | Relationships

By: Steff Willis

We all desire a happy and healthy marriage and yet the statistics show how difficult that is to achieve.

Approximately 50,000 people get divorced each year in Australia and the median duration of those marriages is less than 13 years. A 2019 study found that around half of recently divorced individuals cited a lack of love or intimacy as the reason for their divorce.

So, the question becomes, how do I prevent this from happening? How do I keep the spark alive in my marriage?

At least, that’s the question people are googling and asking online.

But as Sabrina Peters, local pastor and provisional psychologist, suggests – focusing solely on the ‘spark’ might not be the best course of action.

“The spark is an interesting topic” Sabrina said.

“A lot of people think ‘the spark’ is if my partner walks in the room… does my heart race? Do I feel butterflies? I actually think defining what the spark is and really looking at the depth of a relationship and what we’re after a fulfilling relationship is important.”

Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

Sabrina proposed using Psychologist Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love as a good model of what we’re all seeking in a relationship. Sternberg’s theory describes types of love based on three different scales: intimacy, passion, and commitment.

“When you put all three of these together – intimacy, passion, and commitment – you have something called consummate love.”

She highlights the drawbacks of having only one of these elements, stressing the need for a harmonious combination to achieve consummate love—a relationship rich in passion, grounded in commitment, and filled with intimacy.

Practical Tips for a Fulfilling Marriage

For those who feel that the spark has faded in their marriage, Sabrina offers practical steps to reignite the passion and create a fulfilling connection:

  1. Honest Conversations: Regularly make time for honest and empathetic conversations with your partner. Create a safe space where both of you can express your feelings, concerns, and vulnerabilities.
  2. Cultivate Forgiveness: One of the linchpins of any marriage is forgiveness. Address any hurts or offenses by bringing them to light and engaging in conversations that foster forgiveness, empathy, and compassion.
  3. Fun and Intimacy: Intentionally set aside time for shared activities and experiences that bring joy and build intimacy. Discover each other’s love languages and engage in activities that align with them.
  4. Weekly Check-ins: Establish a regular time for in-depth conversations, where you can discuss any conflicts or areas of improvement. Assign a specific point in the week to address these topics and ensure you approach them with understanding and a desire to grow together.
  5. Seek Wisdom: Don’t be afraid to seek advice and guidance from those who have experienced successful long-term marriages. Connect with mentors, pastors, or counsellors who can provide valuable insights and support.

“I think a lot of people spend more time preparing for their wedding than their marriage. It takes effort, energy, and intentionality,” says Sabrina.

For more tips and encouragements, follow along on social media or check out Sabrina Peter’s website.