You hear it all the time “Take care of your marriage. Make time for your spouse. Your kids will grow up, they will move away and it will just be you and your spouse again”. I think it is probably the most common piece of advice expecting parents get. And in a way it is completely true. I mean, your kids will grow up and they will find their own lives. You will still be important to them, but as they grow they become more independent.
That’s important, but, also important to note, is that what your children see in your relationship with your spouse, their parent, is what they will view for themselves when that time comes. The interaction between you and your spouse is the first model to them of what a marriage or partnership looks like. And so, for both those reasons, it is important to focus on your relationship with your spouse.
But how do you do that? How do you make time for your spouse when it feels like your children have sucked time out of you (that sounds a lot worse than it really is, I promise)? Whether you work out of the house or are a Stay at Home Parent it is tough. Regardless of what you do, you are trying to meet the never ending needs of your children, being both the constant entertainer, teacher, mediator (if you have multiple children), protector, and guide. Your days are long (although the years are short) and when the day is over it can be so hard to want to stay up a little bit later and be present for someone else.
Taking time for your spouse is just as important as taking time for yourself. They say that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. Well you and your spouse can’t effectively parent and be married if you are not taking care of each other.
It doesn’t take long, a simple 5-10 minutes to just see how they are doing. To check in with them on how their day was. To remind them that they are doing a good job. To tell them that you are proud of them. To give them a little peck, or shoulder rub. These little gestures, little moments of contact goes so far into “keeping the spark alive”.
Don’t wait till your one night (keep reading for that), do it now. You don’t need grand gestures, flowers or chocolates. Most of the time you just need a moment. A moment of just you and your spouse where you only focus on each other. A moment can be all it takes from going to bed feeling like a disaster on all fronts to going to bed feeling on the same page as someone else.
Take a night, once a week. Stay up later, cuddle on the couch, make it a point on that night to put away all the distractions and just focus solely on each other. It doesn’t have to be a go out to dinner and a movie date night, it doesn’t have to even be a get a sitter night (keep reading though for that…), it just needs to be a night where you can be with each other. *You can read about our take on this HERE.
Take a night out, wherever fits into your own budget, get a sitter and go do something outside the house with your spouse. Whether that’s dinner, a concert, a hike, whatever, get out into the world. Remember what it was like to go on a date with your spouse. Take a couple of hours and remember what life was like before you had babies crying at your feet, or a toddler needing help going to the bathroom. Hold hands while you are walking, sit across from each other and have discussions without having to reprimand your children halfway through a sentence. I gauruntee you and your spouse come back to the house 100% refreshed and ready to tackle those moments. We are homebodies so we don’t always do date nights like this, but we are getting better about it.
Finally, look back through your photo albums. Walk down memory lane. Remember that first date? Remember your wedding day? Look back through the photos, you’ll be surprised how many little memories pop through your mind and remind you what that moment was like.
How do you and your spouse place your marriage first?