If you have kids I don’t need to tell you that staying connected in your marriage can be a HUGE challenge! What was once so easy before kids, now takes concerted effort and requires pre-planning. While it may seem like a lot of extra effort I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it!
One day those kids will be gone and you don’t want to be living with a complete stranger because you never prioritized feeding your marriage. I’m a BIG believer that while kids may require a lot of your time, effort and energy, if you don’t carve out the time for your spouse or partner, it doesn’t take long for both of you to start feeling the effects.
Here are some ways that you can anchor your marriage so it stands the test of decades of parenting. Yep, decades. Because the reality is that depending on the spacing of your kids and how many kids you have, it could be a few decades before it’s just you and your husband again.
So here are some of my tried and true ways that my marriage has stayed connected for the past 29 years. And yes, it’s been HARD at times, (like lots of times) but it’s been worth it.
Date nights are a must if you want to stay connected. You BOTH need time away to just be a couple. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive but it needs to happen. There are seasons where it may happen more and seasons where it happens less (like when you have a new baby in the house) but once your baby reaches 6 months old date nights need to resume on some level. Initially this might look like just having a dinner at home together once the kids are in bed, but eventually finding a sitter and going out together is going to feel so much better and you will start to really crave and enjoy that time together. Making this a regular part of your month or even your week as your kids get older can be a game changer! Some ideas for date nights out include going to a movie, getting together with friends, going to dinner, taking some kind of lesson together (dance lessons are SUPER fun!), going for a hike (time spent outdoors has major mental health benefits) a bike ride, a picnic, the farmers market, and the list goes on. Do a google search for fun things to do in your area.
Weekly Time to Connect at Home
Connecting on a weekly basis can do wonders for your marriage and help mitigate the stress that comes with raising young kids. Parenting as a team is easier when you’re emotionally connected to your partner and it also fills your cup emotionally. Take the time to sit down once per week to just talk. No phones or screens. Just sit and talk about your day. 15-20 minutes of talking each day can help close the gap that can so easily set in.
Some other ideas include doing a devotional together, praying together, or reading a book together. Binging a favorite show is always a fun way to decompress together too!
A Long Weekend Away
This is something that we used to do once per year when our kids were little. And there were even times when the kids left to go stay with friends or grandparents and we stayed home! Some seasons of life just feel like too much work to pack yourselves up to get away! But honestly staying at home, just the two of us for 3 whole days was AWESOME!!
Having a long (yes I said LONG, because 2 days simply isn’t enough IMO) weekend is so revitalizing to your marriage and can do wonders if you’re in a desert season in your relationship! There’s nothing like getting to just relax and focus on one another for 3 days straight, to breathe some life back into what may have begun to feel a little mundane or where resentment has started to build. You’ll go home with a deeper connection and a renewed appreciation for one another!
Marriage conferences are an amazing way to spend a weekend every so often. Going to a conference specifically to focus on your relationship and learn new tools for communication, intimacy and keeping your marriage rock solid is well worth the investment of time and money. Learning from couples that are further along than you and have gained some wisdom along the way is an invaluable resource. Hearing other couples struggles, hardships and WINS can make you feel like you’re not alone. This alone is so encouraging as when we’re in a place of struggle we tend to feel like we’re the ONLY ones, which just leads to us going deeper into the pit of despair!
Carving out Time for Intimacy
Lets face it, the transition into motherhood is no joke! You have this tiny human that you’re now responsible for, not to mention a whole new body that doesn’t look nearly the same as pre pregnancy. That’s a lot to get used to and on top of that you’re exhausted! Not a good recipe for romance but believe it or not you WILL find yourself again and find your way back into an intimate relationship with your spouse. It may take some time to find your mojo and feel, well….sexual again, but it WILL happen. Take some time to take care of yourself and do what fills your cup so you’re not running on empty. (hint to your husband that washing the dishes and putting the baby to bed is a sure fire way to get you into the bedroom!) You’ll be amazed at how motivated he becomes! This probably means you’re going to need to plan ahead and that things won’t likely be as spontaneous as they once were but that’s Ok! You can create new routines that fit into your life with kids. Making this a priority and finding ways to make sure it happens regularly can make or break a relationship. Don’t let this slip to the bottom of the to do list!
And if it’s taking longer than expected to feel “normal” again see a functional medicine Dr. Get your hormones tested along with a full panel of bloodwork. This may give you the answers you need. And remember our hormones literally control our entire life and wellbeing so take the time to get to the root of why you’re still not feeling like yourself.
Finding Good Caregivers
Not everyone is lucky enough to have family close by that can watch your kiddos. This is a HUGE blessing if you have it as it certainly makes life SOO much easier. But the reality is that many families live far away from their parents and siblings. This means that you’re going to have to go out of your way to find trusted caregivers for your kiddos.
I’m a HUGE believer in the necessity of having a few great sitters in your back pocket at all times. It will up-level the quality of your life significantly and give you the ability to go out and fill your own cup so you can return home rejuvenated and refreshed. While this might feel scary to have a “stranger” come into your home to watch your kids, it is well worth the investment of time to find someone you trust. You can start by having them come over when you’re there and play with your kids for a couple of hours, until you feel good about leaving for a bit. You can start with short amounts of time and work your way up from there. Trust me on this, you will find girls that your family loves and that love your kids in return!
Here are a few good options for finding a great sitter:
- Community FB groups (your own neighborhood probably has some great sitters!)
- Church groups
- Busy Bee babysitting App (I’ve heard nothing but great things about this app!)
- Care.com (this is a great resource for finding a nanny as well)
- Referrals from friends or co-workers
Another great option for routine date nights that can be a big money saver is to rotate watching kids between friends. You can do this with just one friend or a group and that way everyone gets a date night or a weekend away and there’s no monetary investment because you all take turns watching each other’s kids. We did this when we were young and had very little money for sitters. Hiring a sitter weekly was just not an option, luckily we had friends that were in the same boat!
When Things Get Rocky
Invariably, there will come a time (or times) when you and your partner are stuck and you just can’t seem to get yourselves unstuck no matter how hard you try. You’re not communicating and the disconnection and resentment is growing day by day. This is where finding a good marriage counselor or therapist is a MUST! Having a trusted counselor is worth their weight in gold and just like a trusted sitter I’m a BIG believer that everyone needs one in their back pocket. I don’t know anyone who has successfully sustained years of marriage, raising kids and all of life’s ups and downs without ever going to counseling. I’m sure those people are out there but they’re the exception and not the rule! Bottom line, life is hard and marriage can be HARD so don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional when you need help! Also something to note: finding a counselor that’s a good fit is trial and error and can take some investment of time. You may have to sit down with a few before you find one that you feel comfortable with.
I know that was A LOT but after 29 years in my own marriage and raising 3 kids this is something I feel passionately about. I have learned a thing or two along the way and love being able to encourage other couples. As you can see there are LOTS of ways to make sure connection happens routinely in your marriage. These things done consistently can anchor your marriage for years and years. There will be an ebb and flow but making these things a habit so you can easily come back to them when you invariably get off track is what can sustain your marriage through all the ups and downs of life and kids.
And I’m just gonna say it…If your kiddos aren’t sleeping this adds a RIDICULOUS amount of stress to any relationship. Reach out here and let’s get your baby or toddler sleeping so you have the time to pour into your marriage the way it deserves! Living in survival mode for months or years is not conducive to a healthy, strong marriage relationship. Start making the changes today that are going to allow you to feed your marriage. Trust me, your kids will thank you for it when they get old enough to start noticing other people’s marriages. This typically happens once they’re in high school and it will be music to your ears to hear them reflect on “how hard you and dad worked to keep your marriage strong”. They see it all and they notice it all, even when you think they don’t.