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When kids are in the house, I’m sure it is no secret to you, that it’s hard to find time to spend with your spouse! We all know that the kids will grow up and leave and marriage is forever, but in the busyness of raising kids it’s easy to forget this. However, it’s really important that you make planned time together this a priority to keep your marriage alive and thriving, but how?
You have likely heard this the classic wedding passage from Ephesians 5:31, that says:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
That verse was read at my wedding, and 11 years later, my husband and I are still learning what it really means! Sharing your life, your money, your body, your kids, your plans….and this list could go on and on…but sharing your life with someone as “one flesh” together is not always easy. We often forget that God designed the gift of marriage as a blessing and not a burden.
I like to explain marriage to my kids like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…and tell them that Jesus is the good stuff in the middle that holds us together! It’s messy to separate, and it’s no good without the middle…
With that being said, I notice a BIG difference when Josh and I are both personally reading our Bibles daily in different seasons of our marriage. We are always closer and our marriage is more alive when Jesus is at the center…because HE is the sweet stuff, and when we stray from our daily quiet times, we tend to struggle or grow stale.
I want to be sure and throw out that I am not a marriage counselor, nor am I trying to be one, but recently my husband and I sat down and wrote out 5 ways that help us keep our marriage ALIVE with young kids in the house. The first 4 are all about SHARING your life together and the last one is a BONUS that I call “The Nevers!”
1. SHARED TIME TOGETHER.
Shared time together can be broken down 2 ways: DATE NIGHTS & GETAWAYS
Date Nights: AKA alone time together and adult conversation without the kids.
DATE-IN: If you want to save money or can’t get a sitter, you can date-in. Put the kids to bed & make this time special & a priority.
Watch a movie together – It creates a relaxed setting for fun, intimacy and conversation. Pop some popcorn or bake some easy brownies to go with the movie.
Have dinner delivered after the kids are in bed. Josh and I did this a lot when we lived away from family. This is the easiest kind of date to plan with kids. You know your man better than anyone, so plan something that you would both enjoy!
DATE-OUT: Going out on a date & leaving the children at home, is always fun too but takes a little more prep work. One of the biggest challenges is finding a babysitter. If you don’t have family that lives in the same town, I have some suggestions:
- Reach out to friends for a date night swap (you keep our kids & we will keep your kids another time.)
- Ask your youth or college pastor for some reliable suggestions of babysitters. Compile a list & make notes about their schedules and availability.
- FUN DATE-OUT IDEAS:
- Get dressed up and go to a nice dinner. (Not Chickfila!)
- Go to the movies. Matinees on the weekend are cheaper and eat popcorn for lunch.
- Take a long walk or bike ride through the park.
- If you like to hike, plan a day trip to a new place to hike with a picnic lunch.
- Hit up a local coffee shop, followed by ice cream or dessert from a restaurant.
- Go shopping and let your hubby pick out an outfit for you and you pick one for him, then wear them out on your date.
- Go to a wedding together to remember when you got married, and have fun dancing and seeing friends together.
GETAWAYS: AKA overnight dates away from the kids.
These require more time, more money and more planning than date nights…so for these reasons, they are the hardest to plan! But Josh and I have found it to be so beneficial to our marriage and totally worth it! In our experience, getting away at least one time a year is a great goal. This gives you time to plan, save and prepare for where your children will stay. (“Grandparent Camp” as we call it.)
Here are some GETAWAY IDEAS:
- Air BNB: Choose a city & search for an Air BNB in your price range. You can go anywhere! Get alone in the woods for hiking or explore a big city. Just be sure to read reviews. Josh and I recently stayed in Nashville (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/40230432) for 3 nights and it was so great to rest and reconnect. You don’t have to go far, just get away!
- Take advantage of visiting destinations in an off-season. Winter time at the beach and summer in the Northeast are lower priced in off-seasons.
- Cruises and Island getaways need business since COVID. If that is something you and your hubby are interested in, you can likely find a good deal!
We usually save most of our money for a vacation with the whole family, so we can make memories with the kids. But get creative with how you can plan a little getaway for a few nights about once a year, and it will do wonders for your marriage!
2. SHARED COMMUNICATION.
This is really important! Josh is better at this than I am, but we have learned a lot of to-dos and not-to-dos over the years. I like what Adrian Rogers says about this: “You will communicate or your marriage will disintegrate.” (Listen to that message here.) That is SO TRUE! Here are a few practical ways to do this every week:
- Share your calendars on your phones. Knowing his schedule eliminates stress in planning meetings, appointments, family time, date nights and so much more. I definitely recommend it. This works for us, but if you are a traditional paper and pen planner person, keep a family calendar on the wall in the kitchen or somewhere everyone can see it and keep up.
- Communicating meal planning and the kids schedules is really important too. You don’t want 5pm to roll around and your kids are starving, and you have NO food in the house. Or if you are in a meeting at work and need your husband to pick up the kids at school, that has to be communicated. You get the idea! Josh and I have gotten to the point where we know our drop-off and pick-up schedule for the kids, and we plan out meals to eat home during the weeknights. Sometimes the plans change, but you have to communicate…this will takeaway unnecessary stress!
- A lot of couples have one or both working from home since the pandemic, so communicating has never been more important about giving each other space and what your work day looks like! And I will add, men don’t always like details or talking a long time, (I’m sure you are agreeing with me on that!) but they do appreciate being thorough and having a plan.
3. SHARED COMMON INTERESTS.
You had them dating and newly married, but it is easy to forget shared common interests when kids come! Keeping common interests a priority will help you and your husband stay bonded and friends…and that is important especially once the kids are grown and gone! Josh and I don’t necessarily enjoy the same common interests we once did, but I think it’s good to change and try new things! It’s the memories you make that bond you long-term!
Here are a few shared common interest ideas:
- Play Tennis at a local park.
- Try water aerobics together at your gym or YMCA.
- Foodies? Make a list of local places to try in your city.
- Walk or work out together.
- Cook together.
- Grab coffee and visit a bookstore together. Maybe even read a book together.
Your hobbies may vary, but the important thing is to make common interests a priority! Your kids will be your best and biggest common interest, but it’s still important to have some others outside of them!
4. SHARED COMMUNITY.
This is so IMPORTANT, but often overlooked in the busyness of working and raising kids. You easily forget to make this a priority.
Church is a great place to find this! Joining a small group and sharing couple friends, will help promote common interests. Worshipping together and having a small group of adults to hold you both accountable and give you a safe space to process things that the Lord is teaching you is so valuable. Seeing your spouse get vulnerable in sharing a prayer request or something the Lord is teaching them with the group, is not only attractive, but it helps start more spiritual conversations at home away from the group!
So those are the four ways to share together:
SHARED TIME, SHARED COMMUNICATION, SHARED COMMON INTERESTS & SHARED COMMUNITY.
5. THE FINAL BONUS- “THE NEVERS.”
“THE NEVERS”are those things I have personally learned from experience you should NEVER do in marriage.
1. Never speak about your man negatively in public! This is very disrespectful, embarrassing and kills his self-esteem. You are entitled to your own opinion or to disagree, of course, but think about doing it in a loving way and in private! (Same goes for your hubby as well.)
2. Never eat chips in bed. (haha) This is just an example of something that Josh does sometimes, that he knows I don’t like. Point being: If you know something bothers the other person, don’t seek it out or irritate them for fun!
3. Never call your mom or best friend with your news first. Always make your husband the first call! When you leave a doctors appointment or get a promotion at work, your hubby should be your first call! Celebrate together or grieve together, but he needs to be first. Same goes for him calling you first.
4. Last but not least: NEVER expect perfection! Learn to forgive when he forgets or falls short, because he will! And you will want him to do the same for you.
Those are my “NEVERS,” but here are a few “ALWAYS” to end with!
These are ALWAYS the best things in any marriage:
- Always be kind.
- Always be patient.
- Always forgive and forget.
- Remember this scripture:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Remember: Marriage without Jesus in the center will be very hard, but a marriage with Jesus in the center, although not perfect, because 2 out of 3 of you are human, will be more full patience and more likely to forgive and keep no record of wrongs!
That is a marriage that lasts. Stay in the Word, so you can stay bonded in your marriage by producing these fruits of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 13 above, and share a life together that can be a joy, in good times and bad. I hope you have found these 5 ways to keep your marriage alive helpful, even though I am just learning beside you as the years go by and the Lord teaches me more and more.
As an added bonus, check out this FREE marriage resource from our ministry partner Love Worth Finding Ministries here.
Listen to this Podcast Episode HERE