Updated: Nov 18, 2019
You're slowly killing your marriage if you're not making time for the man and woman who fell in love.
I'm not quite sure how long it had been, but it had been awhile.
I know because of the way I felt.
Sitting at dinner across the table from him, having an adult conversation (without interruption). Wow. It felt so... grown up. So therapeutic.
Weekly dates had been our routine, but somehow we'd gotten out of them.
So it had been a while since we'd been dressed up, went to dinner, and just talked.
And I'd forgotten how much I loved this feeling. And how critical it is to our marriage.
You know what I'm talking about. The feeling that you're a woman and you're with a man. A little bit of spice and spark.
It might lead to the bedroom after dinner, but more important is the reminder of where you came from and how you got here.
All those kids at home didn't just show up one day. They weren't assigned to you by random selection.
They happened because you fell in love. You met a man and something sparked and you fell in love.
You. A woman. With passions, interests, talents, a career. You met a man and you fell in love, and the ultimate outcome of that love was children.
And then something strange happened. Your life was no longer about a man and a woman in love. It was about these little people who demand and require (for survival) all your time, attention, and energy.
Days, weeks, and years pass this way. While meeting the needs of the children you lose yourself in the daily transactions.
And before you know it, you look at this man and these children and you wonder, "How did we get here? Who are you? Who am I?"
What we forget -- or fail to realize, when life became a haze of 'to-dos' -- is that making time to remember who we are, how we got here, and where we want to go, never made it to the 'to-do' list.
But it isn't optional -- this 'time to remember'. Not if you want your marriage to survive. Especially if you want your marriage to thrive. It's a preventative 'couples therapy.'
You meet the needs of your children because you love them, but also because their physical and mental survival depends on it. That's why caring for them is your priority. If you don't meet the needs of your marriage and make it a priority, it will also die.
And the way I've done it with my man is through regular, consistent 'couple time'. It's a simple but super foundational habit for building a stronger, better marriage -- and a stronger, better you.
Because being out with my man reminds me that I'm a woman (not just a mom) -- a person with passions and interests that deserve to be pursued. And pursuing them makes me a better person.
But being with my man also reminds me that we're a couple -- not just parents raising children. We're a man and woman who share life and love together -- not just a bed and childcare and the same last name.
So to make this 'couples therapy' a priority in your busy, hectic life, as a minimum:
Weekly dates -- I don't care if you dress up and go to a fancy restaurant or put a movie on for the kids and hide out in your bedroom. Talk, laugh, have sex -- whatever. But spend time alone together every week without fail!
Quarterly overnighters -- you need a chance to make some noise while you have sex, and to sleep through the night without interruption, and to take a nice long nap if you feel like it! You'll also get the chance to talk and plan and analyze where you are and where you're going. This time is worth the investment! Trust me!
Yearly getaways -- one of those overnighters needs to be a real-deal getaway. I'm talking a week to 10-days minimum. Get AWAY, just you and your spouse (and maybe some other friends/couples). Get out and play, and reconnect, and have some fun! Yes! You deserve to have fun too! I don't care if you go to Thailand (with us) or the town next door. Just get away!
I know it's not easy. I've been there. (I have seven kids, remember?) I know it might feel like just 'one-more-thing' on your to-do list. I get it.
But I promise you, it is worth every effort to make the above list a top priority in your life, no matter how skeptical you might be at the moment.
It's super tough to do any of the things above. Especially when the kids are young and you're broke or on a budget, and you don't have a babysitter and... well, you get the idea.
But just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Because it's hard and requires a sacrifice is exactly why it is so POWERFUL.
These simple practices have transformed our marriage and have kept it strong, even after seven kids and 18 years, and toddlers and teenagers, and 35 countries on five continents for heaven's sake!
Our life has been crazy, ya'll! (I'm living in the South now, I can say ya'll).
But these things have been the glue that have kept us together and made us stronger.