When my husband and I started dating we went on romantic walks all the time–we didn’t have money for anything else! We spent every waking minute in each other’s company. We played games. We even occasionally splurged to go out for chocolate cheesecake. We kissed. We hugged. It was lovely.
Then we got married and the babies came, and suddenly all of our conversations revolved around who was going to pick up milk and are there any clean clothes and what in the world are we going to make for dinner?
For many couples, life gets, well, boring. The cell phone is attached to us, the screens are always on, and it’s as if the romance has evaporated.
One of the greatest truths I have ever found in marriage is this:
You can never drift together; you can only ever drift apart. If you are not being intentional in your marriage, you WILL drift away from each other.
One day you’ll wake up in the morning, look across the bed at the guy snoring softly beside you, and wonder: who is he? And why am I here?
Likely you got yourself into this because you both forgot how to nurture your marriage!
Sometimes he gets too busy. But let’s be honest, ladies: a lot of the time it’s because we’re too busy, too. So many of us are overly busy with work, or with kids, or with life that our husbands fall last on our priority list.
How can we make sure we don’t drift?
Here is my 4-point plan:
1. Weekly “Us” Time
No screens of any sort. Not even any phones. Just us.
You can do this at home, playing games together. You can make dinner for the kids early every Tuesday, and then put them in front of a movie to have Mommy and Daddy dinners together. You can decide that Saturday the kids get up on their own and you both stay in bed.
This works better if it’s a regular date–say we meet together for lunch every Tuesday, or we sleep in every Saturday, or we eat dinner late every Thursday. Put it in your calendar! Every week you’ll know that there is a specific time that you’ll be connecting.
2. Monthly “Special” Time
Every now and then, though–let’s say once a month–we need to do something special to add that spark to the marriage. If money is tight you can do that at home, but it is possible to find cheap date nights on the town. Check out the free concerts in the park in the summer. Take a look at what festivals are happening near you. Collect points so you can go out to dinner somewhere. Check out restaurant coupon sites online. But take some time when you do something out of the ordinary!
3. Regularly: Exercise Together
Take up a sport! My husband and I played racquetball for years. He always beat me, but it was still fun, and we laughed a ton. Go swimming together. Play tennis together. Go hiking together. My husband and I recently started bird watching together. We’re about to start Irish set dancing. Find something that you enjoy doing and just do it. In fact, even if you don’t enjoy it, but he does, do it anyway! You get to spend time side by side, and most talking actually is easier side by side, when you’re doing something, than face to face.
4. Daily: Include the Kids
There may not be candles, and it may not seem romantic, but some of my best memories with my husband are of things that we did with the kids. It isn’t always possible to get a baby-sitter, or to carve out time out of the house just the two of you frequently (I really think you should do it at least monthly, but you still need more outings than just that!) So if you can’t leave the kids with someone, take them along and have a great time doing something different. Plan on doing this at least one weekend a month.
Visit the zoo, or a museum, or a park. Get creative! Check out the library for upcoming library programs or community events. Just getting out of the house can do you so much good, because you do get away from the computer and other screens, and you’re able to enjoy each other more.
It’s easy to say “we’re too busy”, or “we don’t have any money”, or “we have a good marriage, and the kids need me more right now.” It is so easy to let our schedule get filled up with work, or kids’ activities. And so we let our daily routine suck the life right out of us. Don’t. Make a regular date with your spouse once a week, even if it’s at home. And then once a month get out of the house and do something special, just the two of you (okay, take the kids if you must, but make it something special). One weekend a month do something special as a family. Grab those fun moments and don’t let them go! Make memories. Don’t just live day by day, in your own routine. Add some excitement! That’s what keeps a marriage–and a family–fresh.