11 Sep Romance
KEEPING THE FIRE BURNING
Romance is an important part of a successful marriage. Whether you’ve been married 2 months or 20 years, we all need to be constantly falling in love with our husbands. There is no automatic pilot in achieving this. Even though our lives are constantly filled with work, children and responsibilities, our marriages need constant nurturing and fine tuning. Keeping romance alive ensures we are not allowing our affections or his to cool or wander elsewhere. With marriage breakdown becoming more common, we cannot take this essential ingredient for granted. Your children will be forever grateful.
When kids are small, we are tempted to think that we don’t have the energy, the time, nor the money to invest in this area. We may even find it seemingly impossible to leave our kids with a sitter to go out, just the two of us. Nonetheless, we need to start somewhere; and the sooner, the better. Whether kids put up a bit of a stink or not, we need to make our marriages a big priority. Our kids crave our marital harmony — what joy they will have when they see us celebrate our 10th, 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries. Every stage of marriage needs unity, depth and harmony. Challenges await us in the future that we may be unaware of–sickness, work stress, financial worries, difficulties with children, conflict, etc. We are constantly being pushed outside our comfort zone to rise to the occasion. During all these periods, we will fare much better when we have the support, unity and love of our spouse. We must consciously invest in our marriage. Don’t wait till tomorrow; begin today.
Our husbands need to be our best friends, the love of our lives and our greatest joy. We cannot become so wrapped up in the kids that we relegate him to the bottom of our daily list of to do’s. We need to take time for our husbands each day, and specifically take time to date him. We were, should be and want to be his best girlfriend! Just because you became a mom is no reason your husband should feel he was put on a shelf to gather dust until you have time. I remember reading somewhere that research showed that when parents focus on marriage over parenting, children benefit far more than when parents are focused on parenting to the neglect of marriage. There is more unity, harmony and direction from both parents as they model mutual respect and love.
In the early years of marriage, women often feel discouraged because they don’t see their husbands taking the lead in this department. They often complain that they have to be the one to get the babysitter, feed the kids, get the house ready, make the plans and then just tell hubby it’s time to go. Yes, this is hard work. Many husbands are not multi-taskers. They do better focusing on one thing at a time. For some of them, going out means putting on a jacket, telling you he’s ready and leaving. This can really hurt a wife who is overwhelmed by all the necessary prep work needed to leave the family. Women find a variety of ways to tackle these challenges. Preparing him in advance and asking him to do one thing is a start. Over time, he will learn to chip in more. Regardless of your strategy, what’s most important is that the date be taken, even if it involves personal sacrifice and effort on your part.
Dates are a time to build friendship by showing interest in each other and focusing on the positive. Criticism, nagging and complaining should not occur. Rather find something to cheer about. Sometimes you might even have to put love, where there is no love, to draw out love. If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Men enjoy shoulder to shoulder bonding and don’t always need conversation to feel close to their wives. So just being together does a lot for a man. Realize too that dates don’t need to be expensive, nor very time consuming, just constant over the course of your marriage. Consider doing some of the things you did when you were not yet married. Bit by bit over time you will keep the fire of your love from dying out.
Young families find it difficult to get out on a regular basis. This is understandable when money is tight, babysitters unknown or interest to get out not there. So start simple. Set aside time after dinner to sit and hold hands on the couch, or once the kids are in bed to just catch up on your days, hang out and connect -even if only 10 minutes. Let the kids play nearby but don’t let them interrupt. Just tell your kids it’s mommy-daddy time and once the timer on your cell phone or the stove beeps, you’ll be with them. They need to respect your marriage from which they came. You can’t assume couple time will happen; you have to make it happen, otherwise the chaos of family life drowns it out and you don’t have much steam left later for each other. We need to be deliberate in making good one-on-one time, to purposely seek deeper unity without interruption or distraction. You need to keep the fire light burning brightly!
When was the last time you approached your husband and asked him for a date (at home or outside) – to set a good chunk of time to be together without the kids? Wouldn’t he be tickled that you are keen to respect his needs as a man and husband? Set the stage by initiating and planning an evening the two of you would enjoy. Women typically desire emotional connection with their spouses, before they can think of physical connection. Men’s emotional needs are usually simpler. They do enjoy bonding through side-by-side activities (watching a movie, going to a live sporting event, concert, etc.), not necessarily talking a lot. Study your man and his preferences. Brainstorm to find a blend of activities that promotes attachment at all levels. Maybe go out and just talk about all the potential ways you could enjoy dates. Then get out your calendar and start making them happen. Mutually book the time off of other pursuits. Get that babysitter and head out the door. Time to be that girlfriend, put on a great outfit and add some pizzazz to your lives. Here are some ideas for “at home romance”:
- Candlelight suppers – Feed the kids a simple supper early. Then, either when they are enjoying a great video or sleeping, dim the lights, put on some beautiful music you listened to when you were dating and enjoy a delicious meal. You can make it yourself, order out, or just top it off with an amazing dessert. Can be very simple, but the atmosphere and intention make it incredible.
- Snuggle up to a great movie – Find a great movie that meets both your tastes, nestle up on the couch and enjoy a glass of your favorite drink while nibbling on a special treat together. Simple, relaxing and bonding
- After the kids have gone to bed, light the room with candles, put on your most romantic music and slow dance together. Enjoy each other’s warmth and whisper sweet things to each other.
- Book some time together to share a favorite common past-time that seems to have gone to the wayside when the kids came along. Remember those times before marriage and make them come alive–reading together, playing cards, looking through photo albums, listening to music, doing a hobby together. I know a couple who took up quilting when their first baby was born. They so enjoyed the evenings together working on a common project, listening to music and sharing great conversation.
- Grab brunch or lunch together and take a stroll in nature.
- Schedule a day to go to bed an hour earlier so that both of you are physically and emotionally ready. Have a warm shower to refresh you. Set the stage with candles and nice soft music. I love the instrumental music of Brian Crain. Grab some baby oil and start off with a nice massage. Relax and enjoy each other’s company. Stop looking at the clock. What a hurtful message that sends. Take your time for the gift of the marital embrace that fuses your hearts together. You can’t and shouldn’t rush love. Learn how to be there for each other. To like each other. To love each other. Indicate what you enjoy and articulate afterwards what was special. That way it can be repeated and you build on what you appreciate. Don’t wait too long. Schedule another romantic interlude.
As soon as the opportunity arises for the two of you to go out, grab it. Whether you have a relative, friend, competent babysitter, or your oldest child is of age to babysit, take advantage of time out together. I cannot emphasize this enough. You both need to get out, away from the home, the computer, the mess, the kids, the craziness of life. You need to be together, creating wonderful memories, just the two of you, holding hands, no interruption. You will so much appreciate this habit of dating once your kids become older and stay up later. Life will drain both of you. You will pull out your hair. Don’t cave into thinking of each other as enemies when problems arise, but rather seek to twine yourselves together like cords in a strong rope. Carve time out to have fun, re-charge and energize. Practice being your spouse’s admirer, best friend, and lover. You won’t always feel like it, but practice makes perfect. Feelings come and go. The decision to feed the flames of love makes the difference in helping you honor your marriage vows. Marriage based on love and respect must take priority over parenting, over work, over friends, over all else. When you make that happen, everything falls into place more easily because your heart is stronger, you feel more united and more committed to shooting for the best in all spheres of your life. Maybe you will have to do a lot of gymnastics to get things happening, but the sacrifice of time, effort and possibly money are well worth it. Just start and don’t be afraid to take the lead. Here are some examples of outings:
- Go for a meaningful walk together – whether it’s in your neighborhood, a scenic part of town or just anywhere, walk, talk, hold hands, laugh and share your life together. How important these little things are to keep the communication flowing and the unity deepening.
- Go out for a dessert – Whether it be the corner donuts shop or some fancy establishment, treat yourselves once in a while and linger over something delicious. We all need to pamper each other, even in small things.
- Watch the sunset together – Grab a blanket, find a wonderful spot and take along his favorite munchies to watch the sun set on a summer’s night. It’s so wonderful to be together without interruption and enjoy the peace and silence.
- Make the kids a jiffy-quickie no nonsense meal so you can go out for dinner. Maybe you want to visit the place you frequented when you were dating, or try some new cuisine. Find something that suits you both and make that reservation. A good tip if you are financially strapped is to make a luncheon appointment instead. The meals are less expensive but similar to evening fare, and you might be able to leave the kids with a girlfriend.
- Catch a movie at the cinema that interests both your interests. When was the last time you did that? Maybe you’re overdue for it and could enjoy the chance to snuggle up, share some popcorn and feel young again.
- Go shopping together for something either or both of you need. It’s certainly more relaxing with the kids. You will even have time just to browse, to dream, to plan and share together.
- Enjoy a sport or take up a hobby together. Whether it’s regularly or just when you can, get out to do something you both enjoy. Maybe it’s riding a bike, going swimming, playing squash, bowling or whatever. Just do it and enjoy that there are no kids to interrupt you. I have friends who just loved rock climbing together. Be creative. Try something new.
- Visit friends together. Sometimes you might not feel like doing much and may enjoy getting out together as a couple to visit a friend, or another couple. My husband and I do this every second month as a way to keep up friendships. It especially works well if they have children who are in bed since we just come over for a cup of tea for an hour or so. We find it helps us form many new friendships with other parents and gives us much food for discussion and enrichment.
- Go for an overnight away – Some couples find this the hardest outing to achieve, yet almost everyone agrees once it happens, that it was worth every penny and minute. It’s like putting a million dollars in the love account of your marriage. Be creative and inventive in making it happen (ask relatives, friends or babysitters to sleep over or take your kids – let another couple do it for you and then you do it for them). Take the time to call around to gather information on prices, discounts etc. I made a list of hotels, motels, bed and breakfast places within an hour drive of my home. It was interesting to see the varying costs for a simple room, one with a jacuzzi, maybe a fireplace, another with swimming facilities etc. Prices differed on days of the weeks and were also cheaper off season. It helped us make decisions within our budget and plan in advance to make sure it all came together just as we wanted. Realize you need to deepen your intimacy with your husband and this is an amazing treat to do so.
No matter what you choose to do, realize the best gift you can give your children is a strong marriage. Be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen! Your kids really enjoy seeing you date and go out. It confirms stability, security and joy in their life, because you are their bedrock. I remember how reluctant we were to begin going out for date nights. I worried about the kids, the house, the babysitter etc. As a result we started with small outings after the children went to bed while trusted relatives, then friends, babysat. Once into that routine, we tried once in a while to leave much earlier. I found this initially hard since I felt the condition of the house and children were a direct reflection of my worth as a mom. If things weren’t tip top, I felt awful and couldn’t enjoy the evening out. They were all an extension of my self-worth. It was easiest to invite relatives to babysit. This happened intermittently since they lived out of town. Eventually we found recommended teenagers from families we knew and later discovered some amazing university students as sitters. If we go out while the kids are still awake, we plan fun for our kids. We look for a lively babysitter who enjoys playing and even roughhousing with our gang. We put out great munchies, get a fabulous movie or allot some computer game time. Maybe they even stay up a bit later. We find these added privileges make a huge difference to the kids. It makes them eager for us to go. They speak positively of the event, co-operate well with the sitter and look forward to the next one. The last time we announced we planned to go away for a few days, the 5 year old said,”Yes! Party time!” while the others pleaded for us to leave sooner and stay longer. With this approach, my husband and I have been able to go on several one week business trips together using our points and staying at airbnbs. It also helped us to be away for a long period with a dying parent.
Regardless of whether it’s an evening or longer at home or away, all these times of togetherness have really cemented our marriage and family life. It becomes rain on parched ground during difficult times. We try not to talk about the kids, but rather each other and our dreams. We grow as lovers, best friends, forever united, enjoying our life together. For all the challenges we have faced, conflicts we’ve overcome and weaknesses we’ve experienced, our date nights become an invaluable anchor to our marriage over the past thirty plus years. By our words and deeds, our children joyfully rest in the knowledge that their parents love each other madly. Why don’t you aim for the same? Start today, even if it’s just baby steps and before you know it, you’ll be looking back on 50 years of the most amazing marriage. Now wouldn’t that be an amazing goal to achieve!
Read more Date Night Ideas from other couples.
Also a great article I found on-line with entitled Date Ideas for Married Couples.
I highly recommend either the book or audible of Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly. It helps you to learn how to get that intimacy you long for and also how you sometimes sabotage your efforts without even realizing it.