Last week as I talked about discovering your family identity I mentioned that Teri and I make it a priority to spend time with each other – apart from our children – every day.
When you’re young, it’s easy. Kids are younger so they go to sleep earlier, you’re younger so you stay up a little later, and your marriage is young so you want to spend time with each other. As the years tick by, it’s easy for these things to eat away at the connection you have with your spouse.
You’re aging and you get tired easier. It’s natural, but it also means you need to get more intentional.
As kids move into the teen years, they want to stay up later. It’s natural – but they need sleep just as much as your relationship needs time alone. Send them to bed.
And, as your marriage ages, you can begin to take advantage of opportunities that do not involve your spouse. Good things: fishing, golf, yoga, whatever…it’s good to spend some time doing things you like – but not at the cost of your relationship. Couples tend to begin to disconnect emotionally as well – spending time in the same room, disconnected.
If you stay connected, meeting the emotional needs on one another, your conversations will be more intimate, you’ll enjoy more sexual fulfillment, and you’ll have better relational companionship. Disconnect and you begin to lose these, which disconnects you further and you spiral.
That’s why we have “Mommy & Daddy Time.”
I know, sounds, well, marital. But it’s not about sex. Mommy & Daddy time is a time where we are awake – generally on the main level – while the kids are in their rooms. It’s not only a time for me and Teri, it’s a time for our boys to see that our marriage comes first – and that when they are married that should come first in their homes.
Of course, they’re not locked away – but they also aren’t ear to the door trying to find out what’s going on. There’s a routine.
7:30 Bed Time is declared, this is often followed by claims that they will die if they don’t get a snack, finish the level their on, play one more song on the guitar….if you have kids, you can fill in your list.
8:00 Last straw, boys need to be upstairs – Mommy & Daddy time is declared.
During this time, Kevin, an avid reader, dives into his books. Alex reads or plays quietly. They are also supposed to get ready for bed – showers, teeth, the whole deal.
9:30 Tuck in routine and lights out.
That 90 minute window is something that we’ve carved out since they were little. And there’s always occasion for it to be interrupted. As babies, they wake and cry, as toddlers and early children, the bath time routine needed our help. But even then, there was Mommy & Daddy Time.
So, what do we do?
Mostly, decompress. We share our day, eat a snack together, watch some TV, goof around on Facebook, plan an MMORPG, or any number of things.
And later, after the kids are in bed, the conversations can go a little deeper because we’ve already primed our time together.
Again, the goal isn’t sex, but guys, remember – Romance for a man is sex, Romance for a woman is affection and conversation. As your marriage ages, the former isn’t going to happen without the latter.
Besides, you married her because you like spending time with her.
Marriage Builders suggest 15 hours each week. I have no idea is that’s the right amount of time – but I do know our relationship is better when there is time every day.
While I can help you find the time in your schedule, I can tell you that once you have it – Guard it.
Husbands, this is your job. Mom’s are nurturers by design. When the little one needs assistance, she’ll want to help. Don’t neglect your children, but don’t let them cause you to neglect one another either.
For us, the kids constantly hear, “We’ll help you at tuck in time.” Before that it was “Go back to bed.”
It may sound odd, but in many ways, guarding your time against them is good for them. Knowing that your marriage comes first gives children a sense of comfort. Knowing your marriage is important to you gives them a sense of security. And guarding your time models how to be assertive. All good tools to learn as they grow.
So how are you going to spend time with your spouse tonight?