Nurturing Your Marriage
Recently someone in my social media feed posted a picture with the caption, “what is your ideal date night with your man?”
As I read through the comments, my heart sank. One woman after another commented that the only time she and her husband had together was after the kids had gone to bed. The main reason given for not “going out” was that they didn’t live near any extended family.
What shocked me the most was the number of moms who said they hadn’t had a date night all year! (Ladies, we are 1/3 of the way through the year already!)
And before anyone gets super offended, let me assure you, I get it. Both sets of my children’s grandparents live in another country.Yes, I said country. My husband works at a church (so, there’s that) and we live in Orange County. You know, Orange County, California where it’s sunny and beautiful, but costs an arm and a leg to actually live. All of that to say, we don’t have oodles of money to blow on babysitters. Neither do we have grandparents who live around the corner.
But we’ve made nurturing our marriage a priority anyway. In the budget. And on the calendar.
This month we will celebrate a decade of marriage. Over the years (especially with the addition of children) we’ve realized that purposefully tending to our marriage, is necessary.
Our kids will grow up and leave eventually. Unless we nurture our relationship now we will end up in a counsellors office like the couples who feel that they have nothing in common. They grew apart as they raised their children and they’re left wondering why they ever got married in the first place.
Time = relationship.
Without regular, intentional time to connect, the relationship weakens. The nights of snuggling on the couch and eating ice cream (that you’ve hidden from the kids) while catching up on Netflix is definitely good for your souls. But so is getting out, going on dates, and rekindling that romance.
I think what happens is we think romance and nurturing the relationship equals spending a bunch of money. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to. We use a variety of things to make dates happen. And while we enjoy going to shows and nice dinners with a view, those evenings happen less often than other types of dates.
One of the first things we did was to review “date nights”. Maybe this works the best for you and that’s great. But in today’s world where a lot of people work from home and have flexible schedules, there are more options than just “dinner and a movie”.
Maybe you can go for a morning run and breakfast. Or, forget the meal and get outside. Go to the park, the beach, the mountain, the pier, the lake and enjoy the view. Have real conversation where you ask each other questions and dream about the future. Resist the urge to just talk about the kids or work. Maybe you belong to an athletic club that offers childcare – use it! We used to go rock climbing and grab lunch during our “3 hours” of gym child-care.
Sometimes we head to Barnes & Noble just to scope out new books and grab coffee. We love going for a drive to nowhere specific. We try to plan these drives around nap time, so that we can have a real conversation and enjoy the ice cream that we picked up… after the kids fell asleep.
We’ve had someone watch our youngest while our older daughter was in preschool so we could head out for a few hours in the middle of the day. We have even gone into Target to get Christmas gift ideas and left empty-handed (who does that at Target?!) It doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy.
We don’t often get a night away because that requires the grandparents flying in. And it’s only been since last year that went away for more than 2 nights in a row. Because those vacations are rare we try to make the dates pretty regular.
And how do we afford to go out? We budget it. We have low eating-out and clothing budgets in order to have “date night” money. We have a handful of people on speed-dial when we need a night out. And have also been blessed by friends (with older children) who offer free child care from time to time. Tip: when someone offers to “give you a night out” – take it. They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t already like your kids!
When you are in the throes of feeding, nap times and diapers, it’s challenging to find time, I remember. But, it’s worth the effort. Don’t let lack of money, or lack of close relatives, be your excuse for not going out. Get creative.
The best gift you can give your kids is the security that mommy and daddy love each other, and that the family unit is strong. Nurturing your marriage will give that to them. Our kids understand the importance of “date nights”. They know that mommy and daddy need time alone, outside of the house. I hope that one day, when they aremuch older, they will be able to look to us as an example of how to keep their marriage alive.
There should be no excuse for letting a third of the year go by without getting out of the house with your spouse. Your kids will only benefit when you take the time to nurture your relationship. And so will you.