Oh, Grace, how I remember having freedom and me time when I didn’t have children. When Adam and I were first married, we had so much liberty to do things we wanted to do. We could take a stroll to the local coffee shop, drink coffee and read the newspaper, before we decided to head back home. We could get up and leave after dinner and decide to go the movies—no packing a diaper bag, no bathroom interruptions while watching a movie and no coming home before bedtime.
One of my fondest memories in our early marriage was when we would go to a nearby coffee shop and take a book to read or just talk. We would hang out together, enjoy each other’s company. Then after eight o’clock two local artists would perform. What an exciting time just listening to new artists hoping to make it in the music industry! A few artists piqued our interest, we bought their CDs and even invited one of them to stay with us when we found out she was traveling and staying in her minivan.
What joy it is to experience this type of freedom! What Adam and I forgot to do was enjoy these experiences even after our children were born. We didn’t take time for each other as often as we should have. If I had to do things all over again, I would certainly go on weekly dates, take the boys on an overnight with a family member or friend, take time to enjoy a weekend getaway quarterly and take a week vacation yearly—without the children. I think it’s important to have balance in our lives, with our children and without our children.
Guiding Lesson: Eve, I have to say that I agree with you. Of course, having children was a blessing, but it required you and Adam to transition and to shift your mind, your priorities and your relationship. However, the need to talk, bond and simply laugh together never left. It was still there beckoning to be heard. Though your time with your children is special, it doesn’t mean your life is over as an individual or a couple.
I know that you and Adam struggled to maintain some sort of sanity during this period in your lives. You both were in survival mode and you placed your relationship to the side. When couples continue in this mode, resentment, becoming strangers, not feeling appreciated, etc. will start eating away at the marriage. The longer it takes for couples to reconnect, the harder it is to journey back to each other’s hearts.
Your ideas about planning events without your children are a necessity to help your marriage thrive. The good news is that as your marriage thrives so does your family as a unit and the lives of your children. What I would like add to your suggestions is to create time and ways to connect on a daily basis. Planning specific events along with practicing daily ways of connecting will enhance your marriage. Here are some initial thoughts:
- Make sure you pray every night together (holding hands), even if it is to say “Thank you for helping us survive another day.” This will help remind you that you are in it together and asking for some Divine Grace is never a bad idea.
- Take every opportunity to touch each other. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a touch, a hug, a kiss, etc. Some examples are: playing footsies under the table during dinner or a giving a backrub while the other is helping out with homework.
- Leave each other love messages in places where you know the other will find them.
- Surprise the other with their favorite food, flowers, waking up early and having breakfast made or taking care of the children so the other can go out with their friends, etc.
- Always express appreciation to your spouse who is your best friend. Never take each other for granted because it takes two to reduce the level of stress and increase the moments of joy.
- Work together as team to deal with unexpected events such as your child getting sick, having a temper tantrum or waking up all night with the croup.
- Never give up on connecting romantically, even if it means you connect at odd hours in the day or night.
- Most importantly, you need to Laugh, laugh and then laugh some more.
The various stages of marriage can sometimes be challenging and yet at times are simply amazing. Regardless of what stage you are in, remember these moments are opportunities to expand your mind and your heart for each other. So let the past light your way to daily expressions of love for your best friend.