We’ve all seen the stories of celebrity break-ups including Heidi Klum and Seal, Katy Perry and Russell Brand and Martin and Shamika Lawrence. These are all examples of people with very busy lives. While we may never know all of the issues that split up these couples, I believe at least part of the problem was probably that they stopped growing together and instead started growing apart.

Remember when you were first together and you couldn’t get enough of each other?

You spent hours talking and laughing, learning about each other, what you cared about, what your dreams were, what your fears were, what you liked about each other?  What most people don’t realize is those things continue to grow and change over time and if we’re not checking in and spending time with each other, we are, by definition, growing away from each other and potentially growing apart. I don’t know how many couples have come to me over the years on the verge of divorce, that tell me there are no major issues, but they’ve just “grown apart.” What “grown apart” tells me is that they have not been spending enough time together.

If you do not continue to connect throughout your married life, you run the risk of being married to a stranger.  The reality is, it is virtually impossible to be in love with someone you don’t really know and are not connected with; and it is virtually impossible to truly know someone with whom you never spend time; you can certainly “love” them – but be “in love”? No. There’s a reason why 90% of long distance relationships fail within a year. They simply don’t spend enough time together.

Further, couples that don’t spend enough time alone together can’t meet each other’s emotional needs and as such, one or both may be tempted into an affair. If you’re not meeting each other’s needs, chances greatly increase that one or both of you may be more easily tempted to find someone else who will. The fact is, spending time alone together makes everything else easier. Of course there are other critical components in a happy, healthy marriage, like communication and affection to name just a few. But how can you work on communication if you never have the time to talk to each other? How can you work on affection if you don’t spend time together? How can you resolve money issues if you’re rarely in the same room? How can you learn to be a team if you’re always alone?

A healthy sexual relationship is equally important to a marriage because a relationship without sexual intimacy, by definition, is simply a friendship. And while we may truly love a friend, we are not “in love” with them.

Sexual intimacy is what differentiates friends from lovers.

It connects the couple on a deeper level, helps keep the marriage fun and exciting, and (if you're doing it right!), creates a bond that you have with no one else on the planet.

I can explain, in great detail about all of these topics, but unless you take the time to be alone to talk with each other, to be affectionate with one another and to enjoy each other, you’ve lost the single most vital component in any marriage and things can only begin to crumble.

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Do you and your spouse need to spend more time together and reconnect? Please comment below.

Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com