My husband and I were once like a lot of couples, with big plans and lofty goals. When we first found out we were pregnant, we vowed to never let kids or life get in the way of our relationship. We promised to continue to sit down to eat together every night, to go out on at least one date each month and to travel once a year to an exotic location. We made those promises and had the best intentions to keep them. Oh, how things change...
Fast forward ten years. We have three kids, two careers, and a list of daily to-dos that we couldn't have imagined years ago. We broke our promises. Every single one.
By the time we get home from work, eat dinner, help with homework, bathe the kids and put them to bed, we’re exhausted! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times one of us (usually me) falls asleep within minutes of finally sitting down.
While sit-down dinners, fancy restaurants and island vacations are not in the cards for us right now, we decided to renew our promise to one another in a way that actually makes sense with our current life (the tropical drink will have to wait). Over the past year, we have started doing a few small, inexpensive things that have really helped to better nurture our relationship.
1. Patio Dates
On nice nights, my husband and I put the kids to bed and just sit outside on the back patio with a glass of wine. While technically we are still at home, being outside distances us just far enough from the kids and the pile of dishes in the sink, allowing us to focus on each other.
2. Mid-Week Lunches
Hiring a babysitter so we can go out to dinner can get to be pretty expensive so we started moving our dates to the noon hour. Sure, our time together is limited to just an hour but that hour of time alone together is an hour where we can catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives.
3. Taking a Day Off
While meeting schedules don’t always allow for us to do so, we try to take a few days off each year to just hang out. Generally these days are spent running errands or doing a project around the house but they are always spent together.
4. “I love you because…”
For Christmas this past year, I gave my husband a dry erase marker and picture frame with the words “I love you because…” inside the display. Each day we take turns writing each other little notes on the glass to let the other person know how much we appreciate them.
5. Holding hands
Sometimes it is the little things that count the most. For me, holding hands is one of those things. It is a small gesture but speaks volumes in letting the other person know you care.
Keeping it Real: Whether you spend time together having coffee, enjoying a movie on NetFlix, or going out on dates, it is important to nurture your relationship. The kids will eventually grow up and (hopefully) leave home and we will someday retire from our careers. But marriage is for life and it’s up to us to make sure we properly care for it.