In September of this year, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. In a way, it’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long, but then again, I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by.
EJ and I met when I was 21 and he was 25. We were friends before we started dating and I often joked with my other friends that I had already met the man I was going to marry even before we dated. A fact they still joke with me about to this very day. We married after a year of dating and began to start our family soon after. Our first son was born 13 months after we got marrried. We knew we wanted our kids to be close in age, so our next son was born 23 months after our first. Our daughter came along 19 months later, followed by our son- 3 years later and finally, our daughter was born 5 years after our last son. As you can see, we went straight from being newlyweds to being parents in a very short period of time.
Our lives got hectic very quickly. Early on we knew we needed to slow down and carve out special times for each other on a regular basis. This wasn’t always easy but we knew it was something we could do if we really tried. On my wedding day, a very dear family member gave be a valuable piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten. She said to me, “One day your children will grow up and leave home, make sure you and EJ don’t ever lose sight of each other because when they’re all gone, it’ll just be the two of you.” As my children are growing up and going away to college, I can see it all too clearly becoming a reality.
If you think about it, when you and your spouse dated each other before you got married, that time was all about connecting with each other, listening to each other and spending time together. Why should it be different once children come into the picture. If we make each other a priority, it’s amazing how we can fit each other in. We’ve become such a “child-centered” society. We’ve been led to believe we should feel guilty if we don’t spend all our free time with our kids. Not so! Our children are a huge focus in our lives, as they should be, but our spouse needs to be as well. When children see their parents loving each other and having fun together, we become wonderful role models for them and it gives our children a secure feeling.
I remember how exhausting those early years were with several young children. In between children, we found ourselves relocating several times. Many days I didn’t even have the energy or enough minutes in the day to brush my hair! Those were the times my husband and I really needed each other and even a few minutes away together felt invigorating.
Since our children have gotten older, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to take little trips away together. We try to go around our Anniversary since in falls around Labor Day. We enjoy our wine trips to California and are looking forward to exploring wineries in Oregon and Washington soon. We also travel quite often to Walt Disney World, just the two of us. That’s always such fun! Our kids love it when we’re gone because they enjoying staying with family members and love that house rules are relaxed.
Here are some ideas that have worked for us:
* Early on in a marriage, often finances can be tight. It’s important to remember, “date nights” don’t have to be expensive. Get creative. Rent a movie and cook together after the kids go to sleep. Experiment with a different recipe that you two can prepare together and eat by candlelight. It’s amazing how candlelight and a cocktail can elevate the evening to a different level.
* If you think you can’t afford a babysitter, think again. Ask a family member to babysit, tap into your church’s youth group or a mom’s group. Offer to swap evenings with a neighbor or friend and watch each other’s children while each couple enjoys a night out.
* Most evenings, before we go to sleep, we sit together, often outside with a glass of wine and talk about our day. It’s just that one on one, uninterrupted time to be with one another and reconnect on a daily basis. It’s my favorite part of the day that I always look forward to.
* If you have a spouse that travels for work, don’t think it’s impossible to travel with them because you have children. With very young children, this might be hard to do but keep it in mind for the future. A lot of times, if you know about a trip early enough you might be able to arrange for a family member to stay with your kids. We have always tried to get away, even if it’s for a weekend once a year. I can’t tell you enough how wonderful that is! Pre-planning for this was critical!
Dating your spouse is vitally important to keeping a marriage strong and healthy. Make it happen and always look for opportunities to be together. If you’ve got some ideas for “dating” your spouse, I’d love to hear them!
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