Today marks one more month until my sister gets married! Hooray!! And, it has me thinking back to when it was a month until Chad and I were getting married. That leads me to our wedding day, and then to our first year of marriage and then to our life together in grad. school and a couple more years of marriage without kiddos, and then to the past almost 6 years of life with kiddos! Whew! That's a lot of married years together! A lot of good married years together! Not to say there haven't been some rough times, but overall, Chad and I define our marriage as amazing, healthy, the best and completely blessed!
There are a lot of factors that make our marriage strong. The first and foremost is the Lord. We aren't perfect and we fail each other plenty of times, but our hearts strive to seek the Lord and He has blessed us! I could go on about that, and if you ever want to know more, ask me about it! I'm happy to share!
But some other things Chad and I both think are critical to our marriage are. . .date nights! For Mary and Kevin, date nights are easy to come by right now (well maybe not right now--since they are busy with last minute wedding planning). They can see each other every night if they want to. Grab dinner right after work. Head to a movie. Up and run here and there, whenever. They don't have kiddos. Yet.
But a lot of us do have children in the mix now! Date nights aren't always at the top of our minds. Or maybe they are, but maybe you don't want to leave your children with a babysitter because you feel guilty. Maybe your children scream at the top of their lungs when they see a babysitter and you think a date night isn't worth the turmoil. Or, maybe you don't want to or can't spend the money on a babysitter AND pay for dinner and a movie. Trust me, we know! Or, maybe after your insanely busy week, you are beyond tuckered out and the last thing you want to do is make an effort to get ready to head out the door on a Friday night and attempt a conversation with your spouse over dinner.
My suggestion is to make date nights happen. No matter what! I have felt all of the following feelings at some point, so I feel like I can say. . .To those who feel guilty. . . leave the guilt at the door and head out. Your children need to see a healthy marriage. They need to see Mommy and Daddy putting their marriage first. If they know you are solid, they know your family is solid. Find a good babysitter and leave all the guilt behind! To those who hate hearing your children cry when you leave. . .just take a deep breath and drive away quickly! Your children will probably stop crying soon after you leave. If they don't, they aren't scarred for life. Your little ones will learn that you will come back for them. Eventually. After you've had some relaxing time with your spouse! In fact, you may need to go on more date nights to get them used to it! Don't "oooh and ahhh" over them. Don't linger and give lots of hugs and kisses as you leave. In fact, don't make eye contact with the little one who might start crying---that will make him cry for sure! You are probably projecting your own guilt/sadness/worry onto them and just imagining what they are thinking, when in reality, it's just them not getting their immediate desire! To those who don't want to or can't spend the money on a babysitter. . .this one is harder. We are all on some sort of a budget (I would guess). Add the cost of a sitter in at least once a month. Cut out the extra take out meals or Starbucks or go without the car wash. Have a garage sale. Whatever. You don't need me telling you ways to cut here and there. You just have to do it. You can also have very special date nights with a nice meal together after the kids are in bed. Grab a glass of wine and just sit and talk about what's been going on! Or rent a RedBox movie and sit in the same room, on the same couch, together! To those who are just beyond tuckered out. . .Put your date night on a calendar in advance. That way you know ahead of time and can be "gearing up" to stay out and up! Go to bed earlier the night before. Drink coffee (this is what Chad used to do, til I banned him from coffee so he could actually sleep)! Vow to go to sleep earlier the following night.
All of this said (in a truly not preachy voice), we need time away and alone with our spouses. These are the people that will be with us after our children have moved away (though our children plan to live in our backyard :) ). They are our most important earthly relationship! Don't take each other for granted. Cultivate your relationship. Date each other again. Make your marriage a priority! It's worth it!!