Before kids, my husband and I did everything together. We went out to eat, saw concerts, stayed up late watching movies, and traveled. I would have characterized our marriage as “easy.” Then we had kids. With three toddlers distracting us, it’s much harder to connect lately. Now our relationship sometimes resembles that of roommates, passing by each other without making eye contact. Like every roommate relationship, there comes a point where steam comes out of your ears because they put the butter in the wrong spot. AM I RIGHT?! And when you finally explode about that butter, you realize it’s not even the butter that’s bothering you, but an underlying issue. Chances are it all boils down to one thing – a lack of connection.
My husband and I value our marriage, even if we sometimes suck at it. I will (sheepishly) admit that I am guilty of putting our kids ahead of our marriage all too often and staring at my phone when the kids finally go to bed. So how can we stay connected and identify more as husband and wife rather than roommates? The normal recommendations, like one date night per month and weekend getaways, are great but are not always realistic, and honestly – they’re not enough! Our marriage needs and deserves more than one night per month! Here are some things that have helped us connect lately.
Listen to a podcast. Find a podcast you’re both interested in. Listen to the same episode separately, then discuss your thoughts about it later. Make the time. Listen to it in the car, while you get dressed or during daily tasks. You will suddenly have unique topics of discussion OTHER THAN your kids, chores, or schedules.
Watch movie trailers. Sounds lame, but my husband and I don’t have time to watch movies and we don’t want to waste a date night not even looking at each other. Thus, we snuggle up, watch movie trailers and talk about which ones we want to see someday (but never actually do).
Take a marriage class. Say what? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Yeah, well, you don’t have time to argue every single day either. Consider this an investment. My husband convinced me to take a marriage class with some of our friends, one night per week for twelve weeks… when we had a NEWBORN! We actually had to take our baby along for the first four weeks to breastfeed him. But, we made it work, and we learned a LOT about each other and how to communicate. I will be the first to admit I thought it was going to be lame, and getting to class on time each week was a nightmare. The class dove into our personal history and helped us discover why we “are the way we are.” It was extremely helpful in understanding why our instincts tell us to put the butter in different locations! More info about the class we took can be found HERE.
Dance like fools. When my husband and I get a kid-free night to go to a wedding, we dance like no one is watching, and stay until the party is over. But the occasional wedding isn’t enough. Sometimes, you just gotta put on your jam, and dance around your spouse until they can’t resist and start to dance with you. If they don’t, at least they’ll be somewhat humored and you’ll be in a better mood. Your kids might also join you, which is always a good time.
Ask each other questions. I don’t mean the usual questions. Order these Table Topics boxes, or search online for unique newlywed game questions. Ask the questions while you are driving somewhere, or at dinner, or in the 15 minutes you have together after the kids go to bed.
Workout together. Confession – my husband and I seldom work out at all lately, much less together. This one is hard and we need to get back into it. Try doing 15 minutes of “speed work out” in the evenings once the kids go to bed. We like setting up stations and rotating every minute. There are even apps for quick daily workouts. Accomplishing a goal together is more fun, and allows us a few more minutes a day to intentionally spend together.
Have more sex. (You’re welcome husbands.) No I’m not kidding. I get it. We’re tired, we’re being groped all day by grimy kid hands, and the last thing we want is one more human needing physical contact with us. BUT do what you need to do to make it happen. Schedule it for certain nights of the week if you need to! When the question of frequency was posed at our marriage class, we thought the leaders would skirt around this question. Instead, they tackled it head on and one female leader gave a very direct answer. “Every 72 hours. Try it. You’ll like it.” (Insert gasps and grins here.) Let’s not even get into the excuses we all have. Just try it. You might like it.
Marriage is hard, and adding kids (and butter) to the equation adds to the challenge. Every couple connects differently. If you have ideas that work for your marriage, please share in the comments below!