A dear friend of mine recently met “the one.” She’s over-the-moon, bubbling up with hopeful enthusiasm, sharing stories about fun outings and romantic dates. When we text each other about our weekends, she’s always quick to respond. “Yesterday, we went on an evening stroll holding hands and he made me laugh the whole time!” Inevitably, she politely follows up with, “How bout you?” I have to search my mind trying to remember the weekend. I usually respond, “Nothing major. The usual.”
I’m soooo happy for my friend because it’s been a long time coming. She deserves it, but at the same time… I’m just going to name it—I’m feeling a bit jealous of that heart-thumping wild adventure she’s experiencing. I remember those early days of the blossoming love between my husband-to-be and me—that sudden rush of adrenaline every time I saw him or heard his voice. It was magical.
While I will certainly never forget that time, sometimes it feels like a lifetime and a half ago. Now we get into a regular routine of wake-up, meals, chores, work, kid drama, bed time, and on and on it goes… In the midst of the drudgery, we start to behave more like roommates or business partners, rather than the two love-sick, entwined souls that sparked it all.
My same friend often remarks wistfully about how lovely our chaotic lives seem to her. She longs for the drudgery I usually abhor. She’s right. Family life is special. There is so much right under our noses that we have to be grateful for. But it’s the really good things in life, like family dynamics, that can quickly get out of whack. For instance, when you’re tasked with raising defenseless, tiny human beings, suddenly your focus as a couple shifts to them, rather than the relationship that led to their existence. Totally normal and understandable. But dysfunction can set in over time as bad habits form… and suddenly the kids are the epicenter of the family’s universe. Can you say entitled kids epidemic?
The couple’s relationship gets nurtured only when there is time, but who ever has extra time? I’ve written about how and why spouses should be prioritized above kids and what that looks like. It’s not a popular pitch to moms and dads who are knee-deep in messy houses and squabbling kids. But there’s wisdom behind regularly reassessing priorities so your spouse consistently comes first. You can check out that explanation here. Suffice it to say, the best gift you can give your kids is a strong marriage. That highly coveted X-box (or whatever happens to be hot right now) will get dumped in the dustbin of their memories. How their mom and dad loved one another will last forever in their psyches, influencing their own future happiness.
As much as I’d love to go back in time to those early days before diapers, mortgage payments, and minivans, I can’t. A successful marriage is undoubtedly about a good bit of drudgery, but it must also involve some romance. When you’re juggling jobs, a household, and kids, time and energy are hard to come by, but that means you gotta get creative. Let’s talk about reclaiming some of the romance with some practical, but sure-fire ways to make your spouse feel like “the one” again.
NO SCREENS IN BED!
Ditch the screens, phones, TV—and start… TALKING! You can’t have intimacy if your nose is in your phone and you don’t get reacquainted with the man/woman you sleep next to. Good communication leads to deeper trust which builds the bonds of the relationship. Couples need to know that their other half takes an interest in their struggles. Think about how you hung on each other’s every word when you were dating. You can’t provide an empathetic ear with distractions.
Since time is of the essence, we overburdened married couples have to be innovative in how we use it. That means a mere look or text message can be that spark that rekindles the fire. Share a stolen moment or two in the day for a meaningful hug, or grab your spouse’s hand under the table at dinner. The key here is to act when appropriate! Being tone deaf in these situations can cause more trouble. It’s not a good idea to be flirtatious in the middle of a child's tantrum, or when someone’s in a hurry. Pay attention to your beloved and act when the time is right.
GET SERIOUS ABOUT SELF-CARE
This doesn’t mean you need to be heading to the spa to have your nails done or be perfectly coiffed all the time. In fact, I find my husband irresistible when he’s done some “manly” household task and is dressed in his beat up work clothes. But it also means a lot to me that he cares enough to shave & shower and dress neatly. This helps him and me. During COVID lock-down, I didn’t always have the enthusiasm to shower daily—talk about a romance killer. On the other hand, when I’m pleased with my own appearance it makes me feel more attractive to my spouse. Take moments for yourself to invest in feeling healthy and confident.
SCHEDULE DATE NIGHTS
Most of us (myself included) nod along at this one. Yep, gotta have date nights… and yet we hardly ever do it! Sit down with your spouse tonight and schedule one. I mean it. If you don’t coordinate your calendars to set aside alone time together, it will fall by the wayside faster than you can say fizzle. It can be hard to come up with ideas when you’re strapped for time and funds. But, things don’t have to be elaborate to have an impact. It’s about connection. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you have to plan a carriage ride through Central Park, or a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant. Schedule time together, follow through, and enjoy each other’s company.
Speaking of date nights…you’re in luck! We’re sharing a fun date night freebie lifted directly from our Adventure into Character subscription box.
Families of Character knows how important it is for a family to be unified around a common goal. You, your spouse, and children will unbox inspirational items and activities designed to make the bonds of your family even stronger. That means nurturing the relationship that started everything. Check out this premium date night activity page as a preview of all the excitement on the horizon. Family life is already an adventure, why not journey together towards more love & laughter.
What are you waiting for? Schedule that date night now— feel all those good new love feels that made you know he/she was “the one.” Also, go to our insta and FB pages to share your best date night ideas. Together, let’s reclaim all that romance.