This is the final post in a series of five ways you can reinvigorate your marriage by Valentine's Day. Each post is short and sweet, but together they will
make a difference to your relationship, particularly if, like mine, your priorities have shifted since you had kids, and your marriage hasn't gotten the attention it once did.
If you missed the first four, they were:
- Nix the Tit for Tat;
- Don’t Expect Him to Read Your Mind; and
- Good Old-Fashioned Time
The final resolution is...
According to couples counsellors Drs. John and Julie Gottman
, 15-20% of couples have no sex at all. Even if you’re not part of this statistic, you and your spouse are probably not having nearly as much as you once did. It’s easy to put sex on the back burner when there are so many other priorities in life: work, kids, housework, grocery shopping, catching up on the latest Bachelor episode.
By the time we crawl into bed, most of us are getting way less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. And we’re simply too exhausted at that point to give our spouse the physical attention they need.
So what’s a busy couple to do? Try scheduling a sex date
. Three hours devoted entirely to sex. Some couples seem to be resistant to scheduling sex. We tend to believe that only spontaneous sex is romantic. Well, let me ask you this: How’s that been working out for you?
Besides sex, there are lots of little ways you can show your spouse physical affection. It’s easy to let these fade away when kids are part of our lives. Breastfeeding, cuddling, kissing booboos, carrying kids on your hip for hours per day can make you feel like the last thing you want to do is kiss or hug your spouse. But once again, the little things make a big difference. Here are a few reasons to incorporate little kisses, hugs, backrubs, bum-grabs, and sexy texts into your day:
- They’re quick, easy ways to say “Thank you”, “You’re hot”, or “I love you” amongst the craziness of daily life;
- If the only reason you touch your partner is to initiate sex, it can make it more of a chore than fun;
- It’s easier to bring it to a boil at night when you’ve been keeping it at a simmer all day.
Recently, a friend of mine realized it had been a while since she'd given her husband any sexual attention, so she sent him a steamy text during a workday. Unfortunately, it had been so long since she'd flirted with him, he was caught off-guard and sent a sarcastic reply. It ended up killing the romance instead of igniting it, and she realized she needed to do a better job of keeping their sex life at a constant simmer.
Enjoy your Valentine's Day
I hope "Five Ways to Invigorate Your Marriage by Valentine's Day" gave you some helpful ideas. I know I'm still working at incorporating some of them into my own relationship, and it's an ongoing effort. I'd love to get your feedback - please share what worked best for you in the comments below, or what you're still struggling with.
This is Part Four in a series of five adjustments you can make to reinvigorate your marriage by Valentine's Day, particularly if, like mine, your priorities have shifted since you had kids. Each post is short and sweet, but together they will
make a difference to your relationship. If you missed the first three, they were:
- Nix the Tit for Tat;
- Don’t Expect Him to Read Your Mind; and
Today's resolution is...
Good Old-Fashioned Time
was about listening.
I hear what you’re saying - “How the heck are we supposed to truly listen to each other when we’ve got kids screaming, the dog barking, and Yo, Gabba, Gabba on in the background?”
You can’t. And that’s why you need to spend time together, alone. No kids. I can’t tell you how important this is.
Parents have all sorts of excuses for why they don’t have regular dates. They’re busy, they’re tired, they can’t find a good sitter, they can’t afford it. What it really comes down to, though, is they just don’t make it a priority.
The most common excuse I hear is lack of trustworthy childcare. If you do a bit of research, you'll find there are great resources for finding sitters, like Lullaby League
or Nannies on Call
(feel free to add other resources in the comments, if you have any to recommend). If you’re worried about cost, get creative! Offer to trade kids with a friend on a regular basis, so every two weeks you each get a date night. If evenings are too difficult, try a daytime date. A couple of hours to go for a walk, have a leisurely brunch, or play tourist in your own town can be just as much fun as dinner out. And your kids get a playdate out of the deal - it’s a win-win!
If you must, you can have an "at-home date". Just get imaginative and try to make it extra special. I was listening to a "Joy the Baker" podcast
about Valentine's Day, and they had the fun suggestion of re-creating a previous date. Think back to some special dates you had before you had kids, then re-create it. Maybe you could get take-out from one of your old favourite restaurants and rent a movie you saw together years ago. Wait until the kids have gone to bed, light a few candles, and enjoy your time together.
I did an informal survey on ways to strengthen a marriage on my facebook page
, and the most common response was regular dates. A couple of great suggestions included:
- “Take a day off work while the kids are with their regular caregivers. You'll have 8 hours by yourself!!” She and her husband did this for their anniversary last year, and have now vowed to do it every year.
- “Do something that facilitates talking, like a dinner out, rather than a movie, so that you aren't just in the same space, but you are connecting.”
- “Make a sex date!!! Once a week for at least 2-3 hrs (after kids are in bed)”
which brings me to the final resolution...
” (stay tuned for tomorrow’s post)* I’m using “him” in this article because I’m married to a man, and that’s what I can most relate to. These suggestions are just as useful if you’re married to a woman.
This is Part Three of a series of five "resolutions" you can take to reinvigorate your marriage by Valentine's Day. Particularly if, like mine, your priorities have shifted since you had kids, and your marriage hasn't gotten the attention it once did. Each post is short and sweet, but they will
make a difference to your relationship. If you missed the first two, they were:
Today's resolution is...
I heard a statistic recently that mothers spend 3 minutes
a day listening to their children; truly being with them without an agenda. And with fathers, it's 39 seconds
. If you’re giving your child this little undivided attention, how much time are you giving your spouse?
Think about how you would feel if your spouse actually stopped (put down his* iPhone, newspaper or remote control) and asked you a sincere question. And then truly listened to your answer.
Heard. Loved. Accepted.
Don’t you want to make your partner feel heard, loved, and accepted?
The secret is to really and truly listen to his answer. Not just nod and think about your to-do list. Not wait for your opportunity to talk. Listen. Look him in the face and watch his lips; look at his facial expressions, how he gets animated or pensive or emotional. Ask clarifying questions. Consider how what he’s telling you helps you get to know him better.
Try to have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around your children.
Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:
- Where do you think we should go for our next vacation?
- I was just thinking about my biggest pet peeve. I think it’s ___. What’s yours?
- Are there any sports or hobbies from your childhood that you miss doing?
- If you were going to start a blog on some random topic, what do you think you would write about?
- If you had to, which of these would you give up: alcohol, sugar, or meat?
- What’s the first thing you think you’ll do when you retire?
You might think some of these are corny but it’s easy to get into the habit of talking only about practical things -- or the kids -- and these ideas can help get you out of that rut.
The great thing about the internet is there are lots of sources for corny ideas. Do you have any to add? Add them in the comments!
Stay tuned for Resolution #4 tomorrow...“Good Old-Fashioned Time”
* I’m using “him” in this article because I’m married to a man, and that’s what I can most relate to. These suggestions are just as useful if you’re married to a woman.
This is Part Two of a series of five "resolutions" we're taking between now and Valentine's Day, to reinvigorate our marriages. Yesterday's post was the first one, "Nix the Tit for Tat
". Will you join us?
Today's resolution is...Don’t Expect Him to Read Your Mind
Sometimes I seem to get mad at my husband for no reason. I’m annoyed with him, and he can tell, so he asks me what’s wrong. And I don’t have a good answer, so I say “nothing” or “I don’t know, I’m just tired I guess”. But when I really think about it, it’s because I was hoping he would read my mind, and he hasn’t. I was really hoping he would get up in the morning with the kids so I could sleep in. I wanted him to compliment my new outfit. I had a rough day and I wish he would just give me a nice, long, reassuring hug. He would have happily done any of these, if he’d known that’s what I wanted. I just didn’t tell him.
I'm starting to realize why I expect him to be able to read my mind; it's because sometimes it seems like he can!
He knows me better than anyone else does, so it's not a surprise when he suggests I need a bath when he observes that I'm tired and stressed out, or makes a dinner dish that just happens to exactly what I was craving. As grateful as I am for these occasions, I've realized that I just keep setting the bar higher and higher. In the meantime, our household seems to just be getting crazier and crazier, so I'm not surprised he isn't as tuned into my needs - he's got two other family members he's trying to tune into. So I should actually be cutting him some slack.
Are you expecting something specific for Valentine’s Day? Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment, try letting your spouse in on your hopes. This could be anything from, "Do you remember the last time you bought me flowers? It absolutely made my day" to “I’d love it if you would buy me this necklace”, sending him* the link to the exact one you’d like on the Tiffany website, to “Hey, I arranged for a sitter on Tuesday night. How about you surprise me with a fun date plan?”, to “We’ve gone out for dinner the last few Valentines, how about this year we just stay home, watch a movie, and go to bed early (wink, wink)?”
We have this idea that half the gift is the surprise -- and therefore not having to ask for it. Think of it this way: your gift to your partner is letting him know exactly what you need from him, and letting them fill that need, without guessing, stressing out, or getting it wrong. Everyone loves to feel needed.
If the surprise aspect is still important to you, say just that: "I would love it if you would surprise me with ____ (a dinner reservation, a special gift, a fun and exciting activity) for Valentine's Day".
Share your thoughts in the comments - I can't be the only one who often expects my partner to read my mind... am I?
Stay tuned for Resolution #3 tomorrow...“Listen”* I’m using “him” in this article because I’m married to a man, and that’s what I can most relate to. These suggestions are just as useful if you’re married to a woman.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I was thinking about how this occasion has changed since I became a mom. More importantly, I realized how much my marriage has changed. It used to be one of my biggest priorities, and now it seems to have moved further down the list, after the kids, my job, and sadly, even the laundry. I’d like to change that.
So rather than focus on just one special day, I’ve decided to introduce one resolution a day between now and February 14th. Together, these will help reinvigorate my marriage by Valentine’s Day.
Image from pinterest.com
Will you join me? Here’s my first resolution... Nix the Tit for Tat
Do something thoughtful without expecting anything in return.
Sometimes, I offer to give my husband a backrub, in the hopes that I’ll get one in return. Or I’ll keep track of how often I fold his laundry and compare it to the number of times he does it for me. I sometimes suggest he needs a night out with the boys, because I want to go out with the girls the following week. Or, my favourite one of all... we work out a plan where he gets to nap on Saturday, and I get one on Sunday.
I know I’m not the only one who does this!
You could argue that it’s just an effort to be “fair”, but it can be so much worse. It’s keeping score. And when you start to keep score in your marriage, nobody wins.
How can you possibly measure all the little things you both do for each other, for your family, for your home? Just the effort of keeping track will suck all your energy from you.
Instead, focus on giving. Give him* a backrub because he’s been shoveling snow or lifting kids and you know he has a sore back. Offer to let him nap because you notice him yawning or reaching for a second cup of coffee.
Do these things because you love him, not because you’re hoping he’ll return the favour.
Stay tuned for Resolution #2 tomorrow...
“Don’t Expect Him to Read Your Mind
”* I’m using “him” in this article because I’m married to a man, and that’s what I can most relate to. These suggestions are just as useful if you’re married to a woman.