Nope- this is not going to be a lecture on why you should or why it’s so important. Because, lets face it, there are so many articles and memes already out there explaining just that. And I’m not an expert by any means or a marriage counselor. So I’m going to cover what I’ve had quite a bit of experience with… prioritizing time with your man when there is no time because of his schedule and your energy level and recurring trauma.
So I’m an insomniac. Not only an insomniac but when I finally fall asleep I don’t sleep well, often waking for a couple hours in the middle of the night getting a total of around 4-5 hours total of sleep. Then I get up at 5, chase a toddler, run the house, work on the endless to-do list, follow through on all the things I’ve overcommitted to, sorta make dinner happen followed by a semi-consistent bedtime for the kiddo and then I crash and don’t want to get back up. I don’t want to think or exert energy. And yeah… it’s typically only 7:30/ 8:00PM at that time. Then we have my poor sweet husband who leaves for work at 6:30AM and doesn’t get home until about 6:30-7:00 at night and his job is incredibly stressful and demanding. On his day off during the week, his phone is constantly ringing and buzzing and he’s so distracted and stressed about what’s going on at work that he isn’t really present or able to focus. His place of work is closed on Sunday so it’s the one day we can spend family time without him feeling overwhelmed and divided. After church we normally spend the time together as a family or try to interact with other people. Sometimes that means we go to lunch then Isaac gets go shooting with some friends or ride his motorcycle or we go to a movie… you get the picture. So how do we prioritize *quality* time together when he’s mentally tapped out and I’m physically drained? So very glad you asked! Here’s what we try to do that doesn’t involve TV:
- We have coffee time every. single. day. Yep! This has been the single most consistent thing in our entire marriage. No for real. Other than my husband’s routine shower every morning, our coffee time has been the single most consistent thing in our house. Why do we make this a priority? Well selfishly for me, Isaac brings me the coffee himself and normally wakes me up with a kiss on the check then follows it up by putting a fresh cup of coffee in my hand. (I know. I’m so spoiled!) But Isaac’s love language is quality time and the only time he is mentally present is first thing in the morning before he deals with his stressful job all day. So I make it a priority to try to wake up on time and be as mentally present as possible. I jokingly said when we were newlyweds that if he wanted me to be up early to talk, he better show up with coffee. And ya’ll, he listened and delivered! It also showed me how truly important it is to him to have that time together so if he’s running late getting ready in the morning, I try to get up and make the coffee so we can sit and have a few minutes together. We don’t normally have time to talk about anything more than the day’s agenda or a youtube video he found particularly amusing, but it’s time together and it’s very deliberate on *both* of our part. Starting our day with putting effort into our marriage has been so helpful for us.
- We try to take at least one trip each year just us. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. When we go on a trip, his work knows he’s on vacay, he turns off his phone/ notifications, and we just focus on each other. Yes, babysitters can be hard to find and are often expensive. We are incredibly blessed to have my sister and some family locally that’s always happy to have Emmy so we’ve been able to take advantage of that on several occasions. But with some we’ve also paid so we get that factor as well. Even if it’s just one night in an area that’s close by, DO IT! The time in the car alone, with no child needing constant attention and making noise, and very few distractions from our surroundings, promotes an amazing atmosphere for *real* talk and *real* connecting. Most of our best conversations have been in the car actually. Some of our trips have been overnight, some have been for 4 nights, but each trip was filled with many different ways and opportunities to connect on a spiritual, physical, and emotional level. Even if it’s once a year for a short time, plan that trip. On the trip, plan one dinner out to somewhere you both want to go, plan an activity, and plan down time. If it’s a short trip, we’ll often plan dinner with a pizza and chilling at the hotel then a fun lunch the next day and hitting up an activity right before or right after lunch before heading home. Ok… moving on…
- Plan one date day/ night per month. We haven’t been the greatest at holding to this because, ya know… life and we’re human still. But we do really try one date night a month. And no- double dates and work events don’t count. My favorite dates include going putt putt then to a casual dinner (or vice versa), the ever classic dinner and a movie, sitting in a parking lot facing an active intersection and eating our dinner (we call it an intersection date), and honestly my personal favorite, grabbing a bite then a coffee-to-go and walking around Lowe’s or a large store where we can talk and fantasize about dream homes, remodels, and just big fantasies in general. We’ve done super simple outing dates and pretty expensive and elaborate ones but no matter which is your style and preference based off of your couple dynamic, having undivided solo time is crucial and we try to prioritize that once each month.
- Random home game night. This is one of the simpler ones and super easy to do with kids in the house when you can’t pry away. We’ll pick a simple game like Uno, Phase 10, Life (non-ironically), Monopoly… Just games that are super simple and easy to play and that add a little flair for a lighthearted competitive spirit. We often grab a snack or fun dinner like homemade nachos and sit in bed munching and playing the game. We turn our phones off and make a night of it. We try to do it on evenings that we don’t have to get up and going the next morning so we can just focus on enjoying it as long as possible.
- Kiss each other goodnight every night! I know this isn’t exactly a time together thing but I feel like it goes hand in hand with the general idea of prioritizing and keeping your spouse in focus. Just a simple kiss before rolling over to doze off, signifying all is well between you both and that love is still there has a profound meaning whether we register it or not. Even in our dry spells, when we’re just making it day by day, when we kiss each other goodnight its a reassuring gesture that we’re a team, we’re committed, and we got this.
Just a moment of complete honesty here (and to those of you who have been married longer than I have you might say “oh honey, that’s cute!” Lol :D), but there is one thing specifically that I’ve observed as the core, underlying issue to the majority of marriage problems… apart from the obvious which is lack or complete absence of proper communication. And that is this. When one or both spouses- either subconsciously or consciously- start feeling like there is little to no effort being put into the marriage or the spouse, a little part of your own “give a crap” starts to fade. And as time goes on it fades more and more creating apathy and distance making it that much harder to reconnect. Obviously communication on the part of the spouse that feels neglected is crucial for this to not happen but effort on both side goes hand in hand. I’m speaking from personal experience on this one and not just third party observance. Deep down I know for a fact my husband adores and is devoted to me. He knows the same about me. But when his job is so demanding, I often feel on the back burner. With my to-do at home and him coming off of work to me fluttering about focused on the house and child, he also feels neglected. We’ve gone through phases where we felt the other didn’t care enough and like we were just going through the motions. Sometimes feeling like we were on separate roads altogether, floating in space, seeing no end to the monotony. But we focused on talking through it. When we recognized the problem, we prioritized time together in one of the above ways and just started talking. Each spouse *has* to put an effort into the marriage. As the wife, I am often the one putting the effort into preparing and laying the ground work (making the meal, blocking out the time, coordinating the babysitter, etc.) and as the husband in the consuming job, he puts effort into showing up and fights to mentally putting work aside, which is an almost impossible hurdle as I’m sure most of you can attest. There have been times that Isaac has planned a date himself and those are so special because I know he is not a planner and finding the time to get all of that coordinated is crazy for him. Realistically, that’s rare. But knowing how hard that is for him to make happen gives him a bit of a brownie point pool with me to last a while. 😀 But I digress. We’ve gone back and forth on who initiates the effort but in the end, we give up something about ourselves and our own agenda to make it happen.
What are your favorite ways to prioritize your spouse? How do you spend time together? How often do you spend time just you two? What are your top lessons and tips/ tricks of the healthy marriage trade? Do you feel like you’re putting in all the effort and the other gets the easy part? I encourage you to communicate that to your love. And if they won’t hear it, consider consulting a third party like another couple you both admire, a marriage counselor, or a book/ online course you go through together. That experience alone also implies effort.
I look forward to hearing feedback from you and what your thoughts and struggles or strengths are. Drop your favorite date ever in the comment section below or PM me through one of the contact methods listed on the “Contact Me” page. Keep lovin’, peeps!