How to Keep Your Marriage Alive in a Den Full of Chaos

There are some of you reading this who make me nervous as I write this. I wish you would just stop reading it.

It’s you guys: married with children, young ones, but somehow never miss your Friday date night... You text all day long – silly jokes, sweet nothings, prayer requests… except when you don’t have to, when you’re on your once-a-month overnight getaways. That’s when you discuss your answers to the marriage self-help book you’ve been reading in your spare time.

Congratulations, Romeo and Juliet. I don’t know how you do it.

Don’t get me wrong. We were you. We used to be really romantic. The first night Todd and I started dating (on New Year’s Eve, 2006) we talked for three hours on the phone, then cuddled and told shared our deepest dreams as watched the sun come up over the lake.

skating

just another crazy date

We were such a cute little dating couple. We saw each other every night, rehashing every wonderful little detail about our days apart. (“Honey, did you have turkey or ham today? You never told me!!”)

A year after we were married, I was pregnant.

While I wouldn’t trade this stage for anything, and there is no one I would rather raise my boys with than Todd…WOW. Have things changed.

so in love...so clueless

so in love…so clueless

I had a scary realization the other night. The boys had gone to bed. Todd and I were sitting in a completely silent room. He was reading some NASCAR blog on his phone. I was mindlessly checking Facebook. I think it had been an hour since we put the boys to bed, and neither of us had spoken a word.

And it hit me.

I like this.

I have not spoken to my husband all day long, and I am fine with that. I am so tired, I could go to bed right this instant and not bat an eye.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I would have never, ever in a million years guessed myself susceptible to the “leave-me-alone” housewife gig. I love talking. Quality time is my love language. I’ve read all the marriage books and gone to all the seminars. I know all the quotes and must-dos.

The only explanation I can think of is something I think our pastor showed us in premarital counseling. He put his hands flat together. This is you, now. Together. Then, slowly, he drew his hands apart. Here is the natural progression from here on out, unless you work and fight it.

I think I remember casting Todd a cute little smirk. Not us, you hottie. *wink.*

Welp, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Once it hit me I was indeed becoming a statistic, I did what I always do when I’m worried. I nag. It’s a very enduring quality, one of Todd’s favorites about me. After a few days of getting him good and nagged, I finally implemented the much-wiser “Esther” treatment of husbands. Over fast food and beer, I told him I thought we should spend more quality time together.

Turns out he’s not the devil after all and he agrees wholeheartedly.

As we’ve been working on this, a few brief things are worth nothing:

011 (5)

  • I really actually enjoy my husband, beyond the feelings of gratitude I have when he brings me the box of baby wipes.
  • After four straight years of working on allergy cooking, sleep-training, house-cleaning, potty training, child-rearing, baby nurturing, green living, and money budgeting, I am giving myself permission to spend some time working on my marriage. It feels like eating the last delicious french fry to do something so self-gratifying, but marriage is important, too.
  • Make date nights important. Blah, blah, blah is what I used to think. Date night schmate nights. We are plenty in love. Well, possibly. But we have been shocked at how enjoyable it is to simply cover the floor with a blanket, sprawl out with some take-out, put on Pandora and a few candles, and have an uninterrupted conversation. It feels like heaven. No, I’m wrong. If we were at Ruth’s Chris, that would feel like heaven.
  • I hate to sound like a modern-day prophet when I know I’m not one. But I think God blesses the time that exhausted, frazzled couples with snotty, needy little ones spend together. I know He has blessed ours. The time, he multiples. He gives you insights about your goals, your kids, your faith. He fills you with joy and draws you together.

Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of these insights we’ve had. Which makes me realize…January and February were months of dismal exhaustion, and March is the month for insights and goals. I guess all those hibernating naps in winter did something.

What about you? Is it harder to stay connected post-kids? What helps?

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7 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Marriage Alive in a Den Full of Chaos

  1. Yep. And it happens to those of us without kids too! Thanks for sharing…you gave me plenty to think about! 🙂

  2. You are absolutely right. It’s worth the effort. And as you make that effort, don’t forget the kids are watching you stay in love with your spouse. What you do today might just save your kids’ marriages some day.
    Also, I love what you said about God blessing the time. I think Joel (or maybe Malachi) talks about redeeming the year of the locusts. It’s nice to think about your kids as ravaging locusts . . . but seriously. They do have a way of sucking the life out of you . . . sometimes. And when we give that to God, He has a tendency of redeeming what was lost. That’s the business he’s been in forever. He will redeem the exhaustion. He will redeem the faint efforts you put forth toward building relationships. He will even redeem your time when you spend it doing something He wants you to do. But don’t try to redeem anything yourself. 🙂 I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work very well.

  3. I can really relate to this post! YIKES! We are the same way. I remember when we were dating – things were really different! We even liked to park our cars next to each other. HA! Marriage is hard but worth it. I love what the commenter above me said – that our kids are watching us stay in love. Powerful stuff! I need to be a better example of love. So glad that I found your blog!

  4. Great post, Jessica!

    Life is definitely different since we had kids. A few years ago we moved closer to my mother-in-law and we actually get to go out on dates now. We used to only do so once a year when she came to visit! I realize this is a huge blessing!

    I love what you wrote about your husband and your marriage. Keep on keeping on!

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