Marriage, what an incredible blessing!
The marriage scene from The Princess Bride keeps running through my mind as I work on this post. You know the one, “Mawwiage!” Anyway, moving on from my weirdness. I’m a big proponent of making your marriage a priority despite the chaos and exhaustion that accompany parenthood. Particularly during those years when our children are little and their needs are many. Oy.
So today I want to give a few practical suggestions for keeping your marriage strong in the little years. Let’s dive in!
Put God First
Sounds weird, right? Put God first when I’m trying to strengthen my relationship with my spouse? Yes! More and more I’m realizing that when God is the number one priority, everything else is better. Not necessarily easier (we still are fallen people after all), but better. I haven’t got it all figured out, but I think that when we put God first, we become better….we’re kinder, more patient and loving, we become less selfish. When we are in that mindset, we are prepared to love our spouses and treat them the way they deserve to be treated – like the child of God they are.
What specifically do I mean to put God first though? I’m talking those basic, but essential things that bring us closer to God. Pray daily, read and study your scriptures, ponder life and The Gospel. As you do those things, you will find opportunities to strengthen your marriage and relationship with your spouse.
Make time for your spouse
I know that this one can be hard. Especially when you’ve got demanding babies and toddlers that really do need help with just about anything, but recognize that your spouse needs your attention too. There are two different “make time for your spouse” thoughts that I have.
First, take the two minutes to say good-bye to them in the morning and hello in the evening when they return (assuming your home and awake). Give them a hug, a kiss, and tell them you love them. Don’t take these things for granted. A couple years ago (while my husband was working out of the country), I got a phone call from my husbands work telling me that there had been a fetal accident, but that it didn’t involve my husband or any of his co-workers. While relieved for his safety, I’ve never forgotten that somewhere else, a different wife was getting a very different notification. The accident was one that could happen anywhere. Since then, I’ve made the effort to take those few minutes every day.
Second, schedule a good block of time to be with them. Without kids. This doesn’t have to be hours long with a babysitter for the kids. It doesn’t have to be officially scheduled (although it can be if that’s what you need). Just make time to be with them. Make sure that you’re continuing to get to know your spouse and talking with them. Won’t it be awkward in twenty years when your kids are all out of the house and now you’re stuck with a person you no longer know? Yep, so make sure that doesn’t happen to you!
Okay, spend time together…..but what do we do??
Stare passionately into each others eyes. Just kidding! Unless you’re totally into that…then more power to you. I’ve got several suggestions for you and they are all ones that Jimmy and I personally do and recommend. We really feel that these bring us closer together and strengthen our relationship.
Play games together.
Break out the games and play! We love games at our house and have several. Okay, true story, I just went and counted how many we have. Any guesses? Seventy-one. We own seventy-one games. Admittedly, there are a good 15-20 that we could probably get rid of because we don’t play them often. Playing games together is the perfect opportunity to practice a little flirtatious banter or work on cooperation skills, depending on what type of game you’re playing. Obviously, you know what games you like, but I’ve got a few suggestions of my own, too.
Code names is a cooperative game (meaning you play together against the game or another team). I love this game, because it makes you think about the other person’s thought process. You can learn a lot about your spouse playing this one! Bonus, it’s a cheap game costing about $15.
Most people will agree that Battleship stopped being fun around age eight. But, something about the mind games is just more fun when it’s with your spouse. This is a great one for some playful banter, too. Battleship is another game that won’t break the bank and costs $13 (or cheaper if you buy used).
Pandemic is another cooperative game, where you play against the game itself. This is a little more of a challenging game, but it’s fun to work together to win. And save the world from an epidemic of deadly diseases. This is currently $26, which is an awesome deal.
Have a regular at-home date night
I love date nights. So. Stinkin’. Much. I love that date nights give me the opportunity to really connect with Jimmy, while relaxing and having fun. There are numerous things you can do, read about some of my favorites HERE. Today, I’m going to share what we are currently doing. Every Monday (because that’s what works for us), we watch a movie. But wait! There’s more! We take turns picking the movie and anything goes. Before watching the movie, we watch a youtube playlist of “movie previews” like you would at an actual theater. We each contribute three or so movie trailers that we want to see, sometimes they’re old movies that we are considering watching and other times they’re movies that haven’t come out yet.
This is such a simple, low-key date night, but I love it. I love getting to talk about the previews while we cuddle on the couch. What a great way to strengthen your relationship and marriage! You could jazz it up even more by having special treats and snacks like you do at the movie theater
Go out on dates
I know I just said at home dates are essential, but going out of the house for a date is essential, too. I think especially for the parent that spends all day at home with kids. Physically getting out the house let’s you be completely distraction free and focused on your love. Babysitters can be expensive (especially when you add in the cost of your date), so don’t be afraid to ask a family member to watch or to find another couple to take turns watching your kids with. Then it’s totally guilt free and cheap! Additionally, getting out of the house for a date doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money on the date. Go window shopping or for a picnic. Have a photo shoot or visit the library or local bookstore and browse. The possibilities are endless.
Yep, I said it. Have sex with your spouse. It’s one of the best ways to feel connected and is good for your health, too. I’ve talked about this before HERE, so I’m not going to really say anything else in this post. Other than this….If, for whatever reason, getting your sexy on isn’t a option, still be physically affectionate. Make out, give a message, cuddle, do something that your spouse loves, get the gist. You can be affectionate without having sex. This type of affection is important! So do it! Literally, if you want. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Feeling motivated to strengthen your marriage?
Good! That was my goal! Hopefully you found some practical tips to apply to your marriage. This weekend will be five years of marriage for Jimmy and I….It’s crazy how quickly that went. Truth be told, we’re always excited to celebrate our marriage, but it doesn’t feel like it needs to be a big deal. In fact, we’ll likely spend it playing games or watching a Mystery Science Theater 3k episode (check out the new seasons on Netflix). Romantic, I know. The point I’m getting at though, is that we’re still pretty new to marriage, so I would love to hear your tips and ideas! What things do you love to do to strengthen your relationship?