For most families, life is about to get crazy. If you have children from preschool through high school, you’re probably bracing for the onslaught of homework, projects, sports, lessons and activities. Even if you don’t have school-age children, you know that many activities – work, church, community and volunteer – swing into high gear in the fall.
Are you worried about losing the “couple” part of your life for the next 9 months? Here are 10 tips for staying connected as a couple when things get a little crazy:
- Establish your marriage as the primary relationship in your family. Have you and your husband set your priorities for this school year? If you value your marriage and want to keep it strong in spite of a hectic schedule, set a priority to establish it as the center of your family life. You won’t be taking anything away from your children; you’ll be adding to their sense of security and helping them understand what it takes to create a lasting marriage.
- Control your family’s schedule, rather than letting it control you. This doesn’t mean your children shouldn’t do activities, but it does mean you and your husband should talk and decide which activities are reasonable in terms of your family’s time, energy and finances.
- Make time to talk every day. When things get busy, it’s easy to go for days without talking about anything other than schedules, carpools, pick-up times and errands. Be intentional about taking at least 15-20 minutes every day to really talk with your husband about what’s going on in both of your lives. You can do it in the morning, right after work, before bed – whatever works for the two of you. My husband and I drink coffee in bed for about 20 minutes every morning and talk while we’re waking up and preparing to face the day.
- Go to bed at the same time, every night if possible but at least several times a week. Going to bed together allows you to talk and unwind together and paves the way for sex and intimacy. Speaking of which…
- Make love regularly. Yes, it takes time, and you’re often tired. But it’s critical if you want to stay connected as a couple. And it doesn’t always have to take a lot of time – while a long romantic interlude is great, sometimes a quick romp provides all the connection you need!
- Set one evening a week as “parents’ night.” Pick one evening each week and let the kids know you and your husband won’t be available for extracurricular activities, homework help, school project disasters, or anything else (other than true emergencies) that evening. Put young children to bed as early as reasonable, and let older children work quietly on homework or other activities. Then spend some time relaxing with your husband. Ideally, this should be a set evening every week – you want your kids to learn to say, “No, I can’t ______ tonight. It’s ‘parents’ night.’” But realistically, it may need to change as work and school schedules change.
- Plan at least one face-to-face activity (which many women prefer) and one side-by-side activity (which many men prefer) every week. So, for example, you might enjoy a cup of coffee and some conversation at the kitchen table on Saturday morning, then paint a room together on Saturday afternoon.
- Do some everyday tasks or errands together. Once children come along, couples often “divide and conquer” the mundane tasks of everyday life. She gets groceries and runs by the post office, he drops off the dry cleaning and picks up a prescription. It’s efficient, but boring. So once in a while, do some of those tasks together. If you have grandparents or a teenage neighbor who will watch the kids for a couple of hours, use them! And when your kids are old enough to stay home for a short time, let them! Run some errands together, then do something fun, like stopping by a coffee shop or frozen yogurt bar.
- Exercise together. Walk, jog or bike together. Train together for a charity walk or race. Take a hike. Anything that gets you moving together, preferably outside.
- Plan regular dates. At least once every two weeks, enjoy a date with your husband. It doesn’t have to be the typical “dinner and a movie,” just something that gets you out of the house and lets you have fun together. If you need some inspiration, check out these fun and healthy dates or ideas for adding some adventure to your marriage.
(And check out 8 more ways to stay connected as a couple!)
How do you and your husband stay connected as a couple when life gets crazy? Please share your ideas in the Comments – I would love to hear from you. Gaye
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