Do you ever marvel at all the time you and your partner had before you were parents? There was time to focus on each other. To go on spontaneous dates, leisurely eat meals and simply talk. Oh, how I miss the uninterrupted conversations.
Despite its countless blessings, life as a parent can be all consuming. The demands of parenthood can make it challenging for me to give my marriage undivided attention. Some nights exhaustion makes me subpar company as I lethargically sit on the couch next to my husband. Other nights my to-do list robs me of spending quality time with my husband.
As parents, it’s so easy for the love for our partners to get lost in the everyday. I think this is one of the biggest risks kids introduce to our relationships. If my husband and I don’t intentionally raise our heads above the daily chaos, our connection suffers.
But we’ve discovered that embracing little love rituals helps us strengthen our relationship, continually rediscover each other and have a bit of fun.
The daily talk. During our wedding ceremony, our pastor challenged us to spend at least 10 minutes a day talking to each other. The catch was that these daily conversations could not be about any of the following:
- The house
On the surface, this daily challenge isn’t hard. Its power lies in the fact that it encourages us to move beyond surface level topics. Discussing topics outside of the day-to-day helps us focus beyond our present circumstances while enabling us to continually connect with each other.
The note. During our first year of marriage, I left my husband a simple love you note. A few nights later, he left the note under my pillow. A ritual was born. For the past seven years, we have taken turns hiding our note in mundane and unexpected places. The note has shown up in cereal boxes, under car visors and within forgotten books. This ritual is a simple, fun and spontaneous way for us to connect.
The home date night. When life is hectic, my husband and I have post-bedtime date nights at home. Our favorite activity is playing games together, particularly Wii Party. It’s almost embarrassing how much we enjoy playing this silly video game. We have so much fun that I often worry we’ll wake up our son with our laughter and the playful arguments.
The getaway. Each year we try to get away for a weekend – even if it’s to a local destination. This extended time away allows us to step out of our parenting personas and connect as companions, not as co-parents. On these trips, we do our best to discuss topics unrelated to our son and instead focus on having carefree fun together.
The spiritual side. Faith is important to our family and joining a church Bible study has been great for our relationship. Through weekly meetings, this group helps us nurture the spiritual side of our relationship (while our son plays with kids from the church). These discussions challenge us to focus on topics bigger than ourselves and have spurred deep conversations between us.
The book. During our last getaway, my husband and I read the same book. It was so much fun! Our “book club” inspired great discussions as we shared our thoughts and speculations. The book itself was mediocre, but the conversations were marvelous. Plus, it was fun competing to see who was the faster reader. (I lost.)
Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of embracing the ebb and flow of our relationship. Our “love rituals” help remind us that while our relationship isn’t always easy, it’s always worth the investment. I have a feeling that one day I’ll look back at these little rituals and realize that they made a big difference.
How do you and your partner stay connected amidst the chaos of parenting? Share your relationship rituals, traditions and sanity savers in the comments below.