Marriage Hack #1: Schedule Alone Time
Remember how great my husband, A, is? Well, he made an excellent point while we were in the depths of our stress and struggling to bridge the huge divide in our marriage. He asked (and continues to ask), “How can we stay connected if we never spend any time together as a couple?”
Good point. You can’t. When you have young children, especially one with special needs, it’s almost impossible to find time together, much less leave the house as a couple. During the daily grind of parenthood, or Groundhog Day as A and I call it, the only way to stay connected is to be intentional about it.
Start small. Find just one hour a week — maybe on the weekend while your kids are napping. Sure, naptime is the only time you have to get anything done. I get it. But consider this checking “providing my children with the happiness that comes from a solid marriage” off your list.
In the spirit of inspiration, here are a few of our go-tos for staying connected:
- Schedule a sitter so we can have a weekend brunch/workout date.
- Plan at least two date nights a month. The caveat? We're not allowed to talk about anything kid or parenting related!
- Schedule check-ins after the kids are asleep. We literally put them in our weekly calendar.
- Morning hugs. Research has shown that when you hug for 20 seconds, Oxytocin, the "bonding hormone," is released in your blood. Such a great way to start the day!
It's amazing how even just a couple hours alone with your partner can melt away any relational tension. After our first son, H, was born, it was four months before A and I had a date night. In those four months, our relationship had gone from utterly blissful to severely strained. Half-way through dinner and a glass of wine later, I blurted out, "Oh yeah, I do like you!" A replied, "See, all we need is a little alone time."
Protecting your couple time is not only essential for your marriage, but it's important for your kids as well. When you're happy, they're happy. If you and your partner can't remember the last time you were alone together, make scheduling alone time your top priority.