My husband just recently went back to work after 6 weeks of paternity leave. It was honestly the best. We haven’t spent that much consecutive time together since….ever. We were reckless and when I say reckless I mean we were staying up until 1030 watching movies, eating Crumbl cookies and laughing. We were getting up every day and going to the gym together. Running all of our errands together. I woke up and he was there. I went to bed and he was there. It was pretty glorious. There were some people that asked us if we were getting sick of each other and I don’t know how he felt but I sure wasn’t sick of him. I loved having him around and I felt like we were growing so much closer every day.
I worried that when he went back to work that we would drift apart a little bit. It’s not that our marriage hasn’t always been great because I have NOTHING to complain about. You know how it is, dad comes home from work, we make dinner, fight the kids to eat, get homework done, get everyone showered and ready for bed, put everyone to bed, there’s generally a struggle there too and then you’re exhausted. You drag yourself into bed and start again the next day. I was nervous that he would leave and we would go back to the daily grind and lose the newfound closeness that we had built over the past 6 weeks, so we talked it out. Here are some things that we have either done in the past or are now implementing to keep our marriage not just great but amazing.
1. No cell phone designated time.
Have you ever been with your significant other, whether at dinner or watching a movie and you realize that you’re both on your phone? We have done that so many times that a while back we started what we call “No cell phone time.” This time is on date night (We keep our phones on loud just in case the sitter calls). We both flip our phones face down or leave them in our bag so that while we are out we can have meaningful conversations. We also have a rule that after our kids go to bed until we go to bed is no phone time. We both plug our phones in upstairs and spend quality time together that is uninterrupted by games, NBA updates, text messages and youtube video holes.
2. “Hello and I love you” text messages every morning
Every morning he leaves for work before I wake up, really before the sun wakes up but anyway. I wake up to a text message from him that says “Hello, and I love you.” Recently when he falls asleep before me, I try to send him a text message that says “Hello and I love you” for him to wake up to. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but starting your day by showing the other that you are thinking of them and that you love them changes the vibe of the entire day. It also initiates conversation throughout the day instead of getting to 4 PM and realizing you haven’t even spoken.
3. Date Night as often as possible!
We try and have a date night every other weekend. It’s not always easy to organize and find a sitter, it’s like watching 4 kids is hard or something. Sometimes it seems like more effort than it’s worth but MAKE IT HAPPEN. Whether you dress ALLLL the way up and head out to a fancy dinner or stay in, wait until the kids go to bed and watch an UNINTERRUPTED movie in your sweats with your favorite treats, date night is an absolute must. On our date nights we try to have conversations that do not totally revolve around our children.
4. Regularly compliment
My husband is way better at this than I am. He is ALWAYS telling me how much he appreciates me, how clean the house is (even when it’s not but he knows that I really tried), how beautiful I look, how happy I make him, how great of a mom I am and more. Not a day goes by that I don’t know how much he loves me and how he feels about me and that is important. It’s important to know that your significant other hasn’t lost their appreciation for you over the years and that your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
5. Put effort into looking nice
I know this one is taboo and people have very strong opinions about this one BUT I’m on the side of the fence that says that you should make an effort to get ready. I remember when we were dating I would get ALLLL kinds of ready. Sunless tanner, check. Hair done up, check. Make-up, check. Nails painted, check. Then, as I was getting closer to his house I would freshen myself up at the stoplights. Run a brush through my hair and reapply my CHAPSTICK because I wasn’t that fancy and boom, I was ready. We are certainly at a different season in our lives with 4 children and some days my husband is lucky if I even brush my teeth but I still put in the effort to get ready. Why? Well, him AND I both deserve a woman that takes care of herself or at least tries to. When I take the time to get ready, actual clothes, hair done (not always clean and usually a ponytail full of dry shampoo, just done), and make-up/bronzer, mascara and chapstick, I feel better and am more productive. Don’t get me wrong though, I have A LOT of love for my leggings. My husband loves me with 10 day unwashed hair, unshaven legs, no make up and garlic breath but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put in the effort to impress him still. This also goes both ways. Impressing your partner isn’t just for newly weds.
6. Make a favorites list to share
What is your favorite candy? Your favorite drink? Your favorite fast food restaurant? Your favorite sit down restaurant? What is your favorite song? Your favorite game? Sometimes my husband and I even get really specific, what is your favorite appetizer? Which restaurant has your favorite dessert? Then we get real fancy. Where is your favorite place to vacation in Utah? (Since that’s where we live.) Where is your favorite place to get away outside of Utah? If you had $50.00 where would you spend it? You get the point. Then, when you know that your better half has had a rough day, you have a reference list for how you can help. Sometimes we do the little things, come home with their favorite drink or candy. Then sometimes your husband sneaks you away to San Diego after a particularly rough week. You can also make the questionnaire and then make a game out of it. Fill yours out and then give a blank one to your partner and see if they can guess your favorites.
7. Kiss goodnight. Every night.
If you know me you know that I believe that “never going to bed angry” is a hunk of bologna. Do you know how many mean things and how many fights I could have avoided if I would have just gone to bed? That being said, always kiss goodnight. Sometimes it makes me more mad to know that I need to kiss him goodnight when I’m so upset at him and sometimes it makes me realize how unnecessary it is to be mad and we go to bed cuddling. It’s important that no matter what was said or what happened that your love still comes first.
8. Have real conversations
Dedicate 30 or more minutes a day to having conversations that are about more than your day, your job, the kids or your complaint list. Instead swap it out for conversations about your dreams, your goals, your favorite memories over the past year. Talk about your fears, your relationship, your past and your future. Make a goal to learn something new about your significant other at least once a week. These conversations keep you on the same page. A while back, when my uncle had just gone through a divorce due to infidelity on her part, we had a conversation in which he said “Don’t let a day go by that you don’t make your person feel important, special, appreciated, loved and valued because if you don’t care to make them feel that way, someone else will.” This isn’t me condoning cheating, affairs, or even extra marital relationships with those of the opposite sex. This is me telling you that conversations with your spouse that include the important stuff will help you feel valued which is something that everyone needs. It will help you feel like your goals and dreams are important to your spouse. It will help you open up about things that you may be struggling with and have conversations about how you can grow together through those trials. Conversations about more than just what should go on the grocery list are essential to helping you feel loved in your marriage or relationship.
9. Stop, drop and kiss
When we were first married my husband used to make me stop what I was doing once a day and kiss. Not just the quick peck on the lips either. It was one minute dedicated to kissing and letting him hold me. Sometimes it made me mad because he would decide to do it right when I was just getting into the groove of being productive. Mostly though, it made sure that we made time every day to not just say I love you, but show it. Make it a hard rule in your house today, if someone calls “Stop, Drop and Kiss” it’s cheating if you don’t play along at least once.
10. Do THEIR things, not just YOUR things
Many years ago I decided that I didn’t have to love his music, his love of cars, his enthusiasm about random YouTube videos…but I had to love that he loved it. Then, I needed to engage in activities that catered to his passions. I’ve gone to many a car show, listened to “so and so’s new album,” watched more drifting competitions than I can count and the whole time just watched him light up. I’ve listened to him ramble about cars that we see on the freeway and I smile and nod because I don’t understand what he’s talking about and I don’t love it, but I love that he does. As you enjoy each other’s passions you will come to appreciate the things that bring each other joy.
You don’t need all of the time in the world to have a healthy, connected at the core relationship. You just need to make the best of the time that you have to keep things fresh, fun, healthy and happy. ❤