Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. We all know this, and we all know that we need to work consistently on both of these things in order to succeed, but it’s so easy to put one over the other. When you’re in the trenches of parenting, it can be easy to lose the big picture of feeding your marriage to keep it healthy. It is so important not to lose sight of what you need to do to keep your marriage happy and healthy; after all, this is how we show our children how to build their own healthy relationships in the future. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are a few things you can do to keep that spark alive.
Make Date Nights a Priority
Remember that joyous butterfly feeling you used to get when you would see your significant other when you met up for a date at the beginning of your relationship? You don’t have to lose that feeling! Dating your spouse can help keep the butterflies in your marriage. If your normal evenings are like those of most parents, you hang out in front of the TV in your sweatpants most nights—getting to dress up and go out on the town adds a level of fantasy that can be very necessary to balance with the drudgery of parenting and real life.
Watch a Show Together
We can’t do exciting things every single night; it is just not realistic or sustainable. So how do we keep our marriage maintenance going in-between date nights? It can be as simple as watching a television show together. Pick a show on Netflix or another streaming service that appeals to both of you, and watch the entire thing together, one or two episodes an evening. Don’t just watch it in the same room, though, make sure to sit near each other; maybe even cuddle up on the couch together. The power of touch can have such a soothing effect on our brains; taking time every day to make sure we are having skin-to-skin contact with our spouses is greatly beneficial.
Kiss Every Single Day
If you are in the same space as your spouse, make sure to plant one on them every single day. The only exception to this rule should be when one of you is traveling without the other. Other than that, no excuses! Something couples with children (especially small children) find is that they can go days without sharing a kiss—and without even noticing, because they are so busy and overwhelmed with other priorities in their lives. This isn’t to say you need to have a full-blown make-out session worthy of a romantic comedy every day, even a peck on the cheek can be enough to release some of that sweet oxytocin, otherwise known as the “cuddle hormone,” which can be triggered by physical touch.
Do Little Things for Each Other
The fun thing about marriage is that the big romantic gestures that we grew up thinking we wanted don’t matter as much as all the little things that compound themselves into a happy marriage. It’s so much more important, and much easier, to do little kindnesses towards your partner. Does your spouse generally do the dishes every night? Try taking over once a week. Do they love coffee? Try waking up five minutes earlier in the morning so you can go get the coffee and bring it to them in bed. Little acts of service show us love through knowing each other intimately.
ESCAPE (for a Night or Two)
If you have the ability to go away without your children for a night or two, absolutely do it! There is something magical about being able to sleep in, eat breakfast in bed, and be completely lazy together with no responsibilities. Do you enjoy art and breweries? Take a weekend in Asheville and visit the breweries and go shopping for a new art piece to hang in your bedroom to remind you of your getaway. If you like hanging out and relaxing on the beach, rent a beachfront room at Emerald Isle for the weekend. Go camping in the mountains if you’re outdoorsy, and watch the sunrise together under a cozy blanket with a steaming cup of coffee. If you aren’t the travel type, you don’t even have to leave town—get a room in downtown Winston-Salem and explore the city as adults for the weekend.