By Mike and Alicia Hernon
When it comes to making time for your marriage, it can seem impossible. Kids, work, sports practices, recitals…so many things seem to be more urgent than date night with your spouse.
But study after study shows that healthy marriages mean healthy spouses and happy kids, so why do we let our marriages take a back seat to all the other things on our plates?
The answer is simple: because we can.
“If we want our marriages to last and give our children the sense of security they need, then we need to get serious about making time for your marriage.”
The crying baby, potty-training toddler or teen who needs help with algebra will always seem to be more important than scheduling time with your spouse because our kids are just louder about their needs than our spouses are!
But if we want our marriages to last and give our children the sense of security they need, then we need to get serious about making time for your marriage.
The truth is, if something is important to us, we’ll make time for it. That might be hard to hear when you’re knee-deep in diapers or school activities. But simple things like sharing a cup of coffee together in the morning or having a monthly date night is a great place to start!
So let’s dive in and chat about the three different ways we believe you can start making time for your marriage right now!
The easiest place to begin making time for your marriage is to have a daily check-in. You’re probably already doing something like this with your spouse. Maybe it’s sharing a cup of coffee before the children are up or taking a walk together in the evening.
One idea we love is to bookend your days with coffee and wine: a few minutes of shared time in the morning and the evening.
“It doesn’t have to be complicated: just a simple temp-check on needs and an awareness of how your spouse is doing that day.”
The goal of a daily check-in is to literally ask how you’re each doing and to review the day, to connect and make sure you’re available for your spouse.
It doesn’t have to be complicated: just a simple temp-check on needs and an awareness of how your spouse is doing that day.
Even though it’s not complicated (and could potentially only be about 15 minutes of your time), the point is that you’re being intentional about your marriage. You’re communicating to your spouse that they’re important to you and that you want to spend time with them, even if that’s only 15 minutes before the day begins or ends.
The second way we highly recommend you make time for your marriage is to have a weekly (or at least monthly!) date night.
This is where a lot of couples get tripped up because cost and time become big factors.
We totally get it: babysitters can be hard to find and downright expensive on top of the cost of the date! But here is where we’d challenge you to get creative. Remember: if it’s important to you, you’ll make it happen. So here are a couple of ideas we’ve found that have helped us:
- Try a date night in! Give the children a simple meal and put them to bed. Then make a meal for you and your spouse to share together. Light some candles and choose a nice bottle of wine to share! It requires some planning, but it’s totally worth it!
- Ask your parish priest who he knows that could babysit or do a babysitting swap with another family you’re close to.
- Going out after the children are in bed minimises the cost and disruption for the kids. So make late reservations and invite your babysitter to pull up a spot on the couch!
“It’s also a good idea to set a few ground rules. If you work together, avoid talking about work. Definitely don’t spend your date nights only talking about logistics and scheduling…”
When you’re planning your date night, don’t be afraid to be creative! Paying for dinner and a babysitter can be costly so keep it varied. Try new things like axe throwing (we just did this with our adult children and it was great!) or hiking. This helps keep things fresh and exciting.
It’s also a good idea to set a few ground rules. If you work together, avoid talking about work. Definitely don’t spend your date nights only talking about logistics and scheduling (leave that for your daily check-ins!). And leave the kids at home (both literally and in conversation).
Finding things you both love to do and talk about will make a date night experience both enjoyable and renewing for your marriage!
Extended time away from the children and from your regular responsibilities is good for everyone, but especially is great for your marriage!
Making time for a weekend getaway can be difficult, especially when you don’t have family nearby. But don’t let that stop you! Plan ahead (make it a yearly goal) and be creative!
Do a weekend swap with friends, split kids up among relatives or friends and keep your getaway local.
This doesn’t have to be a costly thing – dropping the children off with grandparents and getting a hotel room nearby for the weekend to relax by the pool is 100% okay!
“Include down-time and time to just be with your spouse, no agendas in sight! You want to return from your weekend getaway refreshed and reconnected to your spouse.”
The goal for a weekend getaway is to reenergize both yourself and your marriage. Being intentional about unplugging from work and your daily activities to focus on the emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of your marriage is the best way to use a weekend getaway.
And don’t forget to have fun! Include down-time and time to just be with your spouse, no agendas in sight! You want to return from your weekend getaway refreshed and reconnected to your spouse. Whatever you need to do to make that happen should be included!
We all could be more intentional about making time for our marriages. No marriage relationship is perfect and are all built with the material of time. Making time for your marriage communicates to your spouse that they are the priority, even when it seems like the children and work are more important.
If you’d like to hear more about this topic, check out our latest podcast episode right here.
Mike and Alice Hernon coordinate the Messy Family Project. Read more blogs from them here on marriage and family matters.