keepingthesparkalivesquare

Part 2

If you haven’t yet, read part one here!

Sometimes conventional advice just doesn’t…..well…..work.

This was the feeling I had after reading articles or book chapters on keeping the spark alive in your marriage, especially during the “childbearing years”.

“Hiring a babysitter” means spending money we don’t have.

“Scheduling a regular date night” is like organizing blades of grass on a windy day. They’re difficult to pin down and don’t stay where they’re supposed to.

Spending “alone time” together after the kids go to bed amounts to doing the dishes or other chores and then hurrying to bed when you suddenly realize it’s almost midnight. 

I LOVE having my children, don’t get me wrong! But sadly the romance in our marriage and meaningful time spent together greatly decreased as we added one, two and then three kids to our family. Satan began stealing the joy and intimacy {emotional and otherwise} from our marriage. And I let him. I based my love for my husband on what he was doing for me. We allowed the busyness of the day to day tasks, church activities, upkeep of the house and the kids’ schedules to get in the way of the most important thing in life outside of our relationships with God.

So how did it change? By the grace of God, both my husband and I are more easily recognizing now when this is happening but is is taking much work and much time! We haven’t “arrived” at some magical place where we’re always gazing at each other starry-eyed and speaking in soft tones :) But we are seeing more now how it takes an actual effort, more than it did in our early years of marriage, to spend the time together that each of us deserves.

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Some of the things that have worked and helped us purposefully reconnect:

  • Talking to each other. I’m a dreamer and love to muse out loud and my husband would rather just think about things than say them. We’re learning to balance when it’s time for me to be silent and when it’s time for him to open up more. Sometimes we both have to be reminded by each other when we feel as though needs are not being met. {And then we have to listen to those needs and not just forge ahead in getting our own way!}
  • Teaching our children to be silent when mom and dad are speaking to each other. Do you find that you don’t have long periods of time to talk after the kids are in bed? Although not everything should be discussed in front of our little ones, we are training them not to interrupt and to be quiet when mom and dad are having a conversation {major work in progress, in case you think I’m perfect about this!}. When we allow our kids to constantly have all the attention focused on them we aren’t showing them the importance of the marriage relationship coming first.
  • Dating when we have the chance. Scheduled date nights just don’t work for us right now. In fact, trying to make this happened failed miserably and just left me frustrated, because something would always come up at my husband’s work or with the kids. If they work for you, then by all means, do so! But our lives are such that many things need to be planned spur of the moment.

We have the availability of a couple of family friends and family who can watch the kids just about any time for free. We don’t ask often, as we don’t want to take advantage of them. Dating doesn’t have to cost money though! Remember when you just loved being together with your spouse, no matter what you were doing? If it doesn’t work out to go out or is out of our budget, we will get a movie or play a game or do a project together when the kids are in bed. Which reminds me…

  • Don’t make “after hours” time all business and no fun. This was a rut we got into for a very long time: using the time when the kids were in bed to clean the house or work on our financial spreadsheet for the month. Then we’d look at the clock and realize how late it was and then just want to go to bed. We have to be incredibly intentional about how we spend our time after the kids go to sleep.

I’ve been praying lately that I’ll be aware of when my attentions are directed elsewhere so that I can bring my focus back and see connecting with my husband as my greatest priority. I literally have to say to myself, “At 9 pm, I will stop what I’m doing and see what my husband wants to do.” :) Sometimes this alone time has to happen in the middle of the afternoon during nap/quiet time–it’s okay to be spontaneous too! As a couple we have noticed that the more alone {intimate} time we spend together, the more happy we are with each other on a day to day basis!

  • Praying and reading the Word together. This really should have gone first in the list because the spiritual health of our marriage is SO important! Doing devotions with our kids or the family as a whole is essential as well but my husband and I also like to end our night with a short devotional or Scripture passage. If your husband doesn’t like to study the Word with you, don’t push it on him or hold your own “great devotional life” over his head. Just pray for him and encourage him in other ways.
  • Kiss like you mean it! When you don’t have time for other things, kiss your husband for real! Just do it, even if it seems silly or embarrassing, just because it’s fun. It makes me remember back to those times when we were “young and in love” and reminds me that we can still be that way! A good kiss relieves a lot of stress and breaks the ice if you’re both grumpy after a long day {or know you’re going to be having a long day}.

**Bonus: Learn your spouse’s love language! Since Kirk and I learned ours, it has helped us improve our previous Tower of Babel-like methods–where we couldn’t understand what “language” the other was speaking!  

What are some ways you keep your marriage romantic? They don’t have to be elaborate, just special to the two of you! Feel free to share your ideas in the comments!

 

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8 Comments on Keeping the Spark Alive During the Babymaking Years, Part 2

  1. It’s been a few yrs since you wrote this, but I just came across it today, and really appreciated what you said. We don’t have ready access to a babysitter, nor would we care to constantly entrust our kiddos to one any how, and with 4 young boys and baby 5 due in 3 months, a house needing lots of updating, besides normal life, it takes serious intentionality to keep marriage on the front burner. But so rewarding to do it. For date nights, we feed the kids their supper, get them to bed, and while I tidy up the house or whatever, my sweet man will go grab us a bite of food from whichever place happens to be open yet in our smallish town, and we watch something on netflix, or talk, or even just sit in the quiet backyard. Ah yes, we look forward to days to come, when we have the freedom to go out and about on date night, but choose to appreciate what and where God has us right now. It’s true, what all the older moms say “they aren’t little forever, so enjoy those children” and slowly I’m getting it, and even maybe, hopefully, in His amazing grace, appreciating this stage.

    • Thank you Priscilla! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I love your attitude and perspective :) It is so true, before too long, they will be grown up and gone. I really didn’t realize this until baby #4! Congrats on the new baby coming soon!!

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