Marriage is a life-long commitment (at least that’s generally the goal), and to keep both parties happy, it takes hard work. Now add stressors into that, like having kids, and it can be even more work. When your life begins to revolve around pediatrician appointments, PTA meetings, school projects, and meal planning, it can be so incredibly easy to lose yourself in the monotony of everyday functioning to keep your family going and forget about what started that family to begin with: the love between you and your spouse.
Listen, we are realistic here and understand there are a million barriers to making time for your marriage: work, parenting, driving kids to sports practices, exhaustion…the whole shebang. We absolutely get it. That being said…you know it’s important enough that you really need to prioritize it. So that begs the question: when we’re already overwhelmed with life, how do we fit in the work it takes to maintain a happy marriage?
The best advice we can give is never to stop dating your spouse. Remember how much you looked forward to dates when your relationship began? Keep that feeling going well into your tenure! If you are able to make it work financially, add a babysitter and regular date nights into your budget and block that time out regularly on your calendar. If it isn’t workable between finances, Covid-19 precautions, or just plain motivation—we have some great ideas on how to reconnect through at home date nights.
Your first step for all of these is to ditch your kids. We know, you love them and want to spend time with them –all of that is great and good, but sometimes you just need to be an adult hanging out with another adult. It’s okay. Send them to bed early, or if you have a separate space to block them out—send them there with a movie, popcorn, and strict instructions that if they disturb you, they’re grounded. (The last part was obviously a joke, but seriously, tell them you need adult time and to leave you alone.)
Netflix and Chill
This is a classic for a reason: it really is a great way to relax and reconnect with your partner. It’s like dinner and movie out but without having to change out of your stretchy pants. A fun way to switch this date night up is to take turns picking the movie, or even to have a standing date where you watch an episode or two of a certain show that you only watch together.
If you’re like most people coming out of quarantine—we all got really good at playing board and card games. Take it up a notch by turning your dining room into a casino. Pick a Vegas-inspired card game for two—like poker, or black jack—and get dressed up for the theme. Don your fanciest dress-up clothes, make some martinis, and play cards to your heart’s content.
Vision Board Your Post-Kid Life
Presumably at some point in your relationship, your children will reach adulthood and move out of your house, but your spouse will stay there—so here you can plan accordingly. There are different ways to create vision boards—if you’re crafty, you can make a poster board or something smaller like that, if not, you can write things out how it works best for you. Regardless of how you do it, add things on there on how you want to live when you’re empty-nesters, and talk about all the possibilities. Do you want to travel? Add a list to your vision board of where you want to go. Learn new skills together? Buy a vacation house with all that disposable income you now have? Add it all to the board and dare to dream together!
By taking time to go on dates and spending one-on-one time together, you’ll nurture your relationship, as well as reduce the stress in your life. Not only will this help your relationship now, it will help model healthy relationships for your children’s future.