When single people — or couples in serious relationships — ask us for marriage advice (which happens more often than you’d think which tickles me because I don’t exactly consider us old hats at this)… any way, when they do ask if the first year was the hardest or how we learned to live together or any of those “typical” questions I always have the same answer. (WOAH – longest sentence ever). My answer is always this: marriage is awesome! It’s like a never ending sleepover party with your best friend!
We didn’t have that rough first year – our second – or third… you get the picture. Living together came very easily and before we had kids every night was date night. We’d watch movies, play games, go out, take walks, or just sit on the couch talking for hours. Staying connected didn’t take any effort at all. Sure, like any couple, we had our moments and occasionally little fights. But mostly we were always on the same page and just happy to hang out together all the time.
Then we brought home Mareto in the midst of the craziest time in our lives. John was (still is) working in full time ministry and was (still is) in seminary full time as well. Then we got even crazier and brought home Arsema. Then Mareto was diagnosed with autism. Suddenly we found that our alone time together was basically non existent and we were running the race on different tracks. We needed to be more intentional about staying connected in the midst of our every day crazy.
So how do we do that? A few simple things…
- Monday is our family day and date night. We try very hard to protect our Monday’s. It’s John’s day off work and if possible, he doesn’t do any school work that day. We spend it together with the kids having fun. When they go to bed we order in some take out and have a little at home date night.
- We try to ask each other the same question every morning: “what are your expectations for the day?” This is our chance to give each other a run down of our responsibilities, needs from the other, plans, and hopes for the day’s outcome. It has been HUGE in helping us avoid arguments.
- John tries very hard to come home for lunch every day. We eat together when we get the kids down for a nap. Even if we just get 30 minutes, it makes a difference.
- We send each other emails and facebook messages throughout the day. I tell him what the kids are up to — he tells me how his paper is coming or what he’s working on for Sunday School or sermons that week. We also include a few sweet nothings. 😉
- We pray for each other and with each other.
- We try to go out on a date every so often. With the kids and their unique needs it’s not always easy. But even if it’s once a month it’s worth it. There’s just something about putting on nice clothes and getting out of the house together that makes a big difference. We have some of our best talks during these dates.
What about you? How do you work to stay connected to your spouse in the midst of life’s craziness?