Having just celebrated Valentine’s Day, the subject is fresh on our minds. Because all three of us are still in the stage of caring for very young children, it is easy to put our marriage relationship on the back burner. Today, we want to share our personal answers to the following question:
How have you kept your marriage thriving while busy with young children?
Date nights. We’ve worked really hard to preserve this time and the more children we’ve added the more necessary we feel it’s become for our own personal lifestyle. We try to get out by ourselves once a week. It doesn’t always work out with scheduling, but that is our goal. We are really blessed to live near family members who are willing to babysit our children which is a huge help! However, we also swap babysitting with another family in our church. They babysit our kids while we go on a date and then the next week we can watch their kids while they get a date night in.
Mike and I take time on our dates to intentionally talk through our goals as a family and to see how we’re doing with those goals. We also take time to just unwind or to make new memories together. If there is no babysitter, we have also found it helpful to have a set night of the week where we grab a hot drink and settle onto the couch for some sharing and prayer time. Otherwise, life gets busy and we quickly become preoccupied with other things. If we aren’t intentional about setting aside time together, it often just doesn’t happen for us.
Jeremiah and I, on the other hand, do not have family close by, so while “date nights” are few and far between, we have found that our marriage can thrive regardless. We try to do as much together as possible from grocery shopping to library outings to making meals. We talk ALOT. Even during Jeremiah’a break at work each day, we are either texting or using the app Marco Polo. Our kids have an early bedtime and we spend the evenings together. Sometimes that might mean snuggling on the couch as we each read our own book while other times might include cheese cake and decaf while we chat or watch a movie. And we always head to bed at the same time each night and cap off the day with conversation and prayer.
Right now, communication is the main thing. I am finding that I have this bad tendency to play this game of seeing if Isaac can read my mind, often wondering to myself “When is he going to notice that I really would like some help with taking care of Talitha right now? Can he tell I have something weighing on my mind? What about this other thing–when is he going to ask if I want to do it?”
However, I am learning that it is much better to not play this Can-You-Read-My-Mind game and just talk about these things instead of allowing myself to get frustrated about unfulfilled (and even unspoken!) expectations. During this stage of having a toddler running around, intentional communication often takes on the form of lots of simple things: things like just asking for help with Talitha or being honest about something I’ve been struggling with. And many times, just having the conversation is huge!
Because of varying personalities, preferences, and circumstances, among many other things, each marriage and family is different in this area. For this reason, there are many different ways to go about making one’s marriage a priority, while also attending to the many responsibilities of having young children. Please keep in mind that our answers here simply reflect what we have personally found helpful!