5. Take time away together.
Before we were married a wise couple challenged us, “Make a commitment now to go on a weekly date alone.” Do it for the rest of your life. We took their advice, and it has made a big difference in our marriage, especially when the children began to come along.
It hasn’t always been an evening. Sometimes it’s been breakfast, or when the kids were in school, a luncheon. And we haven’t made it every week. Yes, emergencies come up but throughout our marriage, we’ve made it 60% of the time.
If we hadn’t put it on the calendar every week, it would have been much less.
When our kids were young, we use to trade babysitting with another couple twice a year for a weekend getaway. We kept their kids; then they kept ours. Once we had five kids, it was harder to find anyone who wanted to trade!
But I learned the value of a few nights away alone to nurture our marriage.
On one occasion I was exhausted, and we had not had any time alone in a while so we got a babysitter to come to our house and went to a motel one mile away so we could have dinner and a night alone. I had to take a nursing baby along, but at least they don’t talk! Finally, the two of us were able to speak in complete sentences!
My friend Ellen has a husband who travels. It can be hard when he comes home from a long trip to re-connect as a couple when the children want and need to see their Dad. So often Ellen will arrange for child care, meet her husband upon arrival, and go to a hotel for 24 hours together before they go home.
This gives them a chance to re-connect, and it doesn’t hurt the kids to wait one more day to see Dad. It also models for them the importance of spending time with your mate.
As women, we need to take initiative and to be creative.
Put little kids to bed early and plan a romantic picnic on the floor of a cozy room that has a lock on the door. Light candles and put on music. Dine in a skimpy nightgown. The atmosphere will have a positive impact on both of us! Kidnap your husband from work one day and go to a motel in the middle of the day. He may be shocked, but he’ll be pleased that you thought of it.
6. Give attention to the little things.
When our daughter Allison was a newlywed, I went to visit her and Will. I noticed how thoughtful she was of him. She asked him if he would like a cup of coffee. She fixed it for him. She made an effort to do things for him. As I watched, it dawned on me, “I used to do that too. Now, I just figure if he wants it he’ll get it himself.” With a shock, I realized that I had become lazy in being kind.
We have to guard against becoming lazy in thoughtfulness.
Your husband comes in from work, and you meet him in dirty clothes, no makeup, and a shirt with baby’s spit up on it – It’s your badge- It says, “I worked hard today too!” But wouldn’t it be better to put on a clean shirt, re-do your makeup and comb your hair? It communicates, “You are worth fixing up for.” (Remember, there are plenty of other women in the world who would fix up for this man!)
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with the demands of our kids and our careers.
With all the pressures it’s natural to forget to think of him. Men need appreciation. They need affirmation.
They aren’t often as demanding as we are, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need care. Thank him today for something you take for granted. Tell him something you admire in him. You are training your daughters in how to be thoughtful wives!
After observing my daughter, I made a greater effort to ask John if I could fix him something to drink. I tried harder to cook things he liked, and I tried to become more aware of how to serve and honor him. I’m still working on it!
*We will continue Part 4 next week!