Any parent worth his weight in Happy Meals knows there’s great value in spending time with your kids. The danger comes when that time cuts into time with your spouse.
Remember romance? There’s an entire book of the Bible dedicated to celebrating it. It likely played a key role in your dating relationship and in the early years of your marriage. And let’s face it: Romance probably played a strong role in the fact that you have kids running around the house today. So spend time with your children — after all, they need you—but don’t spend so much time in the nursery or on the soccer field that you lose touch with your spouse.
If moonlight and roses have turned into daylight and dishes, it’s time to reverse the switch.
Start dating again. Keep your baby sitter’s phone number on speed dial. Why? You need a regular date night with your spouse — without kids and without going to a restaurant that includes clowns and plastic eating utensils. It doesn’t have to be fancy (although that would be a good idea from time to time). Take a walk in the park or the mall. Enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee together. Discuss what God’s been teaching you both during your quiet times.
On one occasion, my wife and I had a quick dinner and then went to the store and read greeting cards to each other. Silly ones and sappy ones, but all with the idea: “This one makes me think of you.” Was that exceedingly cheap? Maybe, but it accomplished a lot. I was able to hand my wife a dozen different cards that expressed my feelings, and we had fun in the process.
If a baby sitter feels like a financial luxury at the moment, find another couple and swap watching one another’s children, or start a child-care swap with your Sunday school class or small group. Hey, you just might help rekindle the romance in another marriage. Double bonus.
Flirt. Make romantic gestures throughout the day. I’m not referring to the cursory kiss as you head out the door with a van-load of kids and schoolbooks. As you walk past your wife in the kitchen, stop and give her a hug. As your husband balances the checkbook and writes yet another check for school supplies, rub his shoulders. Hold hands as you walk into church. These may seem like subtle gestures, but they aren’t. Children notice these things, and although they may never put it into words, it brings a sense of security to their lives when they see their parents acting in love.
And for everyone’s sake, buy a lock for your bedroom door. The two of you need intimate time together—without interruption. Enough said. (While we’re on the subject of bedrooms, never let your kids sleep in your room. Play time, family time, or reading time is one thing, but kids need their own beds.)
Do the unexpected. It’s easy to get caught up in making dinner, coaching football, helping with h homework, doing the laundry, and a host of other parenting jobs. Surprise your spouse periodically. For example, if you’re buying milk and cereal at the store for the kids, pick up some flowers for your wife. Make arrangements for her to have a spa treatment, but complete the deal by watching the kids while she’s gone. Wives, drive your husband’s car through the car wash or fill it with gas. Order him a subscription to the men’s devotional Stand Firm, then arrange for him to have a few moments to himself each day.
For those of you who have trouble coming up with creative ways to bless your spouse, ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern what would mean the most to your husband or wife. After all, God, the essence of creativity, can dream up more than you could ever think or imagine (Eph. 3:20). (If you surprised your wife with an ironing board for your last anniversary, this means you.)
Make the most of the mundane. The truth is, you always find time for what’s important. Making time to be with your spouse speaks volumes. And you can still make that happen, even on those exceptionally busy days. Dinner’s got to be cooked, so why not cook it together? The laundry’s not going to clean itself, so why not fold clothes together? As you put the kids to bed, why not take the time to pray together? You can look at it as helping each other with the chores, or you can look at it as an opportunity to talk. Even in the midst of the work of parenting, seize moments to value each other
Here’s the deal: Enjoy your kids while they’re young. You know all too well that you’ll turn around and they’ll be headed for college. But enjoy your spouse too. Keep kindling the romance in the relationship. When the last child has left the roost, it’ll j u s t be the two of you. Kindling a strong relationship now will make for a strong marriage later.
10 Signs Your Kids Are Taking Over Your Marriage
10. A romantic Valentine’s Day dinner includes a little blue box — of mac and cheese.
9. You cut the meat on your spouse’s plate.
8. You get excited about the prospect of going to bed with your spouse …to sleep.
7. It’s been months since you watched a romantic movie with your spouse because Frozen has fused itself in the DVD player.
6. You can’t go into a store without telling someone, “Don’t touch.”
5. A conversation with your spouse is riddled with phrases like “Because I said so” and “Don’t forget to say thank you.”
4. The last time you ate in candlelight, a child’s birthday cake was involved.
3. When your spouse says, “Let’ s go out,” you start packing the car with snacks, books, and a stuffed animal named Pookie.
2. During the last night out with your spouse, you were distracted by the family at the next table, wondering, Why can’t my kids be good like that?
1. You’re reading this blog post while hiding in the bathroom as your child bangs on the door with a battering ram made of Legos.
Lynn. H. Pryor is a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. He and his wife, Mary, have survived parenting two boys into young adults.