Life is busy. When you add work, home, and kids to the mix, life can be even more chaotic and crazy. Its interesting that when you’re dating, you MAKE time for each other, even finding silly excuses just to be with each other. (Like the time I called that guy to ask if I could drop off some “leftover” cookies…before I had even made the cookies. Apparently it worked–we got married!)
But then, after the wedding life starts happening. Money is tight, careers may or may not be thriving (or even happening), babies come and demand, sleep is lost, and time somehow doesn’t allow as much to happen in a day. Dates? What are those? Conversations? Are they supposed to be coherent? Romance? Does a quick peck on the way out the door count?
It is so easy to get caught up in the business and forget WHY you got married in the first place. And if you’re not careful, that precious relationship you gave so much time and effort and excitement to will slip away too. So, what do you do about it?
I’m not claiming to be an expert here. I’m still on the starting end of things, but I’ve seen how easily I can neglect my marriage relationship, all in the name of other good things. I mean, laundry, meals, housework, groceries, errands, and child care all HAVE to happen. That just means I need to try a little harder to make time for my spouse.
Here are a couple ideas that we’ve used:
1. Conversation Time: We set aside 15 minutes every night to talk. Granted, like last night, most conversations end up going over an hour or more. I love that. I love that we’re talking about anything and everything. And we stop when we want to.
2. TV Tune Out: I admire my sister who has no TV. For us, though, we both enjoy watching TV and movies together. We’ll watch anything from football and basketball to Pride and Prejudice and other BBC productions. But sometimes, we find we’re spending our extra time WATCHING instead of DOING. There is so much more we can accomplish together when the TV is off. So we try to have 3 days with no TV per week
3. Work Together: We try to work together as much as possible. Once the girls go down, we both tackle the house. He takes one room while I do another. Or we’ll do the dishes together. Sometimes, we’ll have a project to work on, but a lot of the time, we’ll have nothing else to do TOGETHER so we’ll do our separate work in the same room, where possible. We both do a lot of work on the computer, so we’ll pull out the laptop and each take a computer. But at least we’re together.
4. Listen and Learn: I posted a few weeks ago about the Five Love Languages book. We both have read it, and we talk about it. Another great book is The Love Dare along with the movie Fireproof. Besides being the worst acting I’ve ever seen Kirk Cameron do, it is a really inspiring movie. The book takes you thru 40 days of tasks that will improve your relationship by helping you develop more selfless qualities.
5. Set Goals: Another thing we do is set goals together. Neither of us are exceptionally good at setting and reaching goals on our own. And sometimes we’re not good at doing it together either. But we try. Right now, we have a chart for each week and month. If we reach our goals, we get to choose a reward. Weekly rewards are small and either free or inexpensive. The monthly reward is bigger, like going out to dinner. Since we’re accountable together, we’re motivated to succeed.
6. Show and Tell I Love You: At my friend’s wedding, the man who performed the ceremony told them to do a certain number of Show and Tell I Love You’s every day. I loved that reminder that you have to put forth the effort, especially after the euphoria of dating and being newly weds wears off. It has to be replaced with deeper, strong love…and that takes effort.
It is hard to do all these things at the same time, but I’ve found that if I have strengthening my marriage at the front of my mind all the time, it affects all myinteractions with my husband. It even trickles down and improves my interactions with my girls. So even if the most we can do is WANT to improve our relationships, at least its a step in the right direction.