After the birth of 2 children in 16 months, I was pretty miserable. I was lonely, exhausted, depressed. My husband worked long hours and I’d call him in tears telling him I couldn’t go one more minute without his help. He resented that, and our home was tense. I wanted him to do more. He wanted me to do more. And we both tried getting away with doing as little as possible, hoping the other person would be motivated to pick up the slack.
I can’t really put my finger on what changed for us, but we are very happily married now. There is very little tension, and when things get awful (like this morning when the big kids were fighting, the baby was crying for a bottle and needed a diaper change, and the toddler had just pooped in his underwear), we somehow find the humor in it very quickly and joke, “I think it’s time for another baby!”
Below are 4 things that have enhanced our marriage that may also work for you:
- Spend time together. Your spouse can (many would argue should) be your best friend, your confidante. All other people should take a back seat to your spouse, including your children.
If either of you has an inkling to pray, have prayer time together, even if one of you is a little (or a lot) uncomfortable with it. It fosters intimacy on a level deeper than ever before (and this often leads to physical intimacy in our home!).If you can, limit time away from home in the evenings and put your children to bed earlier than you go to bed. My husband and I need downtime together every evening or else we both burn out and get grumpy. Without it, we’d never get to catch our breath and speak to each other without being interrupted.
Know that life is stressful; have a sense of humor. This has made a major difference in the feel of our home.
It’s important to take the time to go on dates. Dates can even be at home and don’t have to cost a thing–think Wii game night or a candle-light dinner after the kids go to bed. Just be sure to create special time together, especially once you’ve started a family.
- Spend time apart. If you have or had a hobby that you really enjoy(ed), don’t give it up. It’s important to have your own identity–I certainly had lost mine in the early years of our marriage.
I know some people feel like they lose touch with friends once they’re married. You still need friends, even if you’re married to your best friend. In my opinion, it’s important to have same-sex friends. The stakes are so high once you’re married that there is no reason to risk infidelity. Even if you think, “Oh, she’s not his type,” or “Oh please, they’ve been friends since childhood!”I remember a counselor saying that the mistress isn’t necessarily more attractive than the wife (in fact, she said, she can be really unattractive), but she expresses her love for him in a way that speaks to him. [If you haven’t read the book The Five Love Languages, it really is eye-opening. I feel cheesy whenever I talk about it, but what I learned was priceless. I learned that I feel most loved by my husband when he does something thoughtful for me or pays me a compliment. I learned that my husband feels most loved by me when I’m physically affectionate. Speaking of physical affection…]
- Have sex…often! I understand that there are circumstances when a couple can’t have sex. Outside of those circumstances, I don’t know of any truly happy marriages in which a couple doesn’t have sex. Especially, especially, if one of you has a primary love language of physical touch. That means that without physical touch, that person doesn’t feel loved!
One more thing, and this might make y’all blush. But I strongly recommend that you both commit to not masturbating so that you know that the pleasure of orgasm is only experienced together. Couples who make this promise to one another invariably have more sex.
- Be kind. Speak with kindness to your spouse. You’re much likely to get a positive response to your requests when you are kind.
Don’t be sarcastic–it can be very hurtful, and your children will mirror what they see.
Don’t let annoyances fester–address them, seek forgiveness, and move on.
Ask yourself if there’s something you can do to make your spouse’s life easier every day and do it without being asked (My husband will do the dishes or fold laundry for me; I’ll take out the trash or bath the kids before he gets home from work).
Build your spouse up privately and in front of others (especially your children). I see my husband’s chest puff up a bit when I tell a neighbor how thankful I am to have such a capable father as a husband. And I make a point to tell my kids how much I love their Daddy, even if they think it’s gross.
Thank one another for basics like cooking dinner, going to work, and playing with your children. My kids will make “Welcome Home” signs for my husband on days when work has been really hard for him. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, my husband and kids will clap for me when I get dinner on the table without burning anything.
Choose to love your spouse even in moments when you really don’t like her. That is when love becomes a sacrifice.
I realize each of these bullet points could justify an entire article. There will be more to come on this topic, for sure! Just know that it’s important to really make an effort in your marriage. Marriages that run on cruise-control can quickly fizzle out. Making an effort, even with something little, can help your marriage to flourish!
Much Mommy love, Mommy Mentor CurlyQ
How do you nourish your marriage? Let us know on our facebook page!
If you ever see any egregious typos in any of our articles, please let us know! We’re probably typing with our toes because we’re nursing babies, wrestling a wild toddler, and having a cup of coffee. Thanks for your understanding and help!
As always, here is my have-mercy-on-me disclaimer. Thank you!