L’amour est dans l’air! (Love is in the air… I totally don’t speak French, but doesn’t that just look more romantic?) Walk into the grocery store, turn on the TV, listen to the radio, and all you hear about is Valentine’s Day. Where to go for dinner, what to buy for your significant other, will it be chocolates, jewelry, flowers? The sentiment is nice, and the time spent together, and the thought they put into presents. But what about the next day? Or the next week? When the flowers are dead, the chocolates are gone, and the “newness” of the present has faded? We get back into the day-to-day and the diaper changes, work schedules, doctor’s appointments, and we forget about the romance.
I’m not even remotely saying that every day needs to play out like we are living in a chick flick, because that’s not real life. But what we need to do is not take our spouses for granted amidst the mundane activities that we face daily. Obviously this is much easier said than done, especially in these sleep deprived, nonstop diaper changing, “coffee, wine and chocolate are my dietary staples” years that consume us when we’ve got little kids, but we still need to make the effort. I know one thing for sure; I don’t want to wake up one day like a stranger to my husband because we focused on the daily grind and were too tired to pour love into our marriage. Yes, we are tired. Yes, we don’t have much time between when the kids go to bed and we go to bed. We have ZERO time between when the kids wake up and when we wake up (noisy little alarm clocks!). Thankfully it doesn’t take much time to make an effort to stay connected to your spouse. It just takes a little bit of planning!
Loving Your Husband When It’s Not Valentine’s Day
Spend Quality Time Together – This is huge. And one of our weakest areas as a couple. It’s easy to be together, but being together without phones, computers, or TV’s is what really takes the planning and discipline. Mr. Crafty and I both work on side projects (he’s a software engineer and I do this blog) so we are regularly on our computers getting tasks completed. We also like to watch a TV show together before bed after the kids are sleeping, and we always have our phones nearby, so the chance for undivided attention on any given night is not great. Quality time means no electronics, focusing on your spouse, and being authentic. You will not connect with your husband if there’s always a screen between you!
Back Each Other Up In Front Of The Kids – Kids. They bring a whole different game. They change everything and make it cuter, more difficult, and more wonderful than you could have ever imagined. But they’re also sneaky, and cunning, and smart. They can smell your fear, and they like to divide and conquer. They’ll do anything and push any buttons to get their way, even as sweet little toddlers! So perhaps the most important part of raising kids together is maintaining a united front. If your husband does something that you wouldn’t have done that way, or don’t wholeheartedly agree with, you never say so in front of the kids. Discuss it later, when you’re alone. You have to support your spouse 100% in front of the children if you expect the children to respect and listen to both of you. And without respect, they’ll act (more than usual) like wild animals. Cute, not as furry, but still WILD.
Pray For Each Other – Like the other parts of our lives, it’s so much easier to remember to pray when you’re in the midst of the storm. But when the seas are calm and all is sunny, we focus on our lives and our selfishness instead of our Creator. If we aren’t going through something rough, we don’t really ‘need’ God right then, right? Of course we don’t really think this way, but our actions reflect it. This way of thinking (even though it’s usually unintentional) is where we get into the trap of not proactively praying for our marriage, but reactively praying. Proactive prayer focuses more on trusting God to lead our marriage, and reactive prayer shows that we are trying to lead our own marriages and then we pray when things don’t go “our way”. This is far from easy, but one way that I intend to be better about this is by printing the below graphic I found on Pinterest and keeping it up as a reminder to keep praying, even when it’s smooth sailing.
Be Silly – Finally, one that we’ve got down! The hubs and I are the goofiest people, and we regularly act like total nuts and just laugh. There is nothing else that makes you feel closer and more connected to your spouse than just being able to laugh at yourselves together… well, almost nothing else. (Wink) Being silly together is a great way to be vulnerable, letting your husband see you the way you wouldn’t let other people see you. It brings you closer, it’s where inside jokes come from, and it creates an entire inside world where just the two of you exist together. Keeping this place alive and thriving is what keeps your friendship strong, which is the basis of your relationship. Being married in itself can be great, but being married to someone who is your best friend is God’s design for marriage.
Be Affectionate – Affection is really important, regardless of whether or not physical touch is one of the love languages of either you or your spouse. Affection helps you to feel closer and more loving toward your spouse, even if you weren’t really feeling it before because it releases serotonin and oxytocin in your brain. So avoiding physical touch, even inadvertently, will eventually lead to feelings of loneliness, insecurity, and discontent. We are created to be physical creatures, which you can even see in your babies. The babies that are held more and loved on more are the babies that thrive and grow better than babies that aren’t. So being intentional about touching our husbands (and it doesn’t always have to be sexual, even though I’m sure they’d prefer it that way, right?) can help to keep you feeling emotionally and physically connected. But while we’re on the topic, I’m going to be blunt; just as hugging and snuggling is a must for most women to feel connected, sex is a must for our husbands. They were wired differently, and sex makes them feel closer and more connected to us. Many times, after kids (and midnight feedings, and 3am diaper changes, and 5:30am wake-up calls) the romance in the bedroom is one of the first things to go. This takes a lot of effort to maintain after kids (unless it just comes naturally, you lucky ducks!) but it is possible! I highly recommend this book called Sheet Music, it’s got great views, it’s funny, and oh so direct.
So let’s remember that we don’t need a holiday to remind us to love our men! We need to focus on this way more often than on Valentine’s Day and on our anniversaries. God created the marriage so that we would love Him first, and then our spouses, and then our kids. This really gets skewed, especially when the kids are young, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Start with little steps; do something special for your husband, make his favorite dinner, send him an encouraging text message, ask him how you can be praying for him, or even just pray for him. Even small steps can help to bring a child-focused marriage back to a “hubba-hubba” focused marriage. Year-round, not only on Valentine’s Day.
And don’t we all want that kind of marriage to be the one we’ve got after the kids have moved out?