Bill and I are ridiculously blessed to parent our children together. It’s a privilege I easily take for granted. Most of our neighbors and many of our other friends don’t have someone to partner with in their parenting endeavors. If you’re in the latter category, I look up to you more than you know. One of my closest friends on the planet has become a single mom in the last couple of years, and I’m amazed every week at how strong God continues to make her. He’s taken a horribly broken situation and turned it into something beautiful, but her lot is still much more difficult than mine.
For those of us who are married, we all know how difficult it can be to connect when kiddos are in the picture. Bill and I have intentionally set aside various ways to stay in sync. Obviously, this list is aimed at married couples, but if you are on your own, you can still use some of the same principles with tweaks. I pray you’re part of a solid church and community who’s praying for you and ready to be a sounding board, offering help whenever needed. My friend, for instance, made a decision early on that her church would take the place of her husband in most decision-making areas. We have a group text, and she uses it liberally to keep us updated as she asks for prayer and counsel. It’s been a sweet privilege to weep with her, rejoice at God’s deeds, and work through tough situations together. God called us to depend on those around who love him, so please don’t attempt to do this tough parenting thing alone.
With that in mind, here are some things Bill and I do regularly to stay connected:
- Couch Time–We used to actually do this on the couch. (That totally sounds like I’m talking about couch sex! Go for it!!!) But I’m actually just talking about 30 minutes of catch-up conversation at the end of Bill’s work day. The kids know they aren’t to interrupt this time except for emergencies. We plan it for a time the kids are occupied, and in the past we’ve even set a timer so the kids knew when they “got us back.” These days, we almost always have this time during neighborhood walks which happen most days when the weather’s nice enough. When the walks don’t happen, yeah, we usually do it on the couch. [middle school snickering] We talk briefly about our day, but we mainly talk about issues we had with the kids and try to make some decisions moving forward with them.
- Home Date Nights–One dinner a week, we hang out in the living room eating together while the kids eat in the dining room. This is usually a simple extended talking time. The kids know to quietly put themselves to bed, and we get a couple of hours without interruption since we start close to bedtime for most of our kids. We often use these evenings for some planning time, too, looking at the calendar for the week ahead and working out logistics.
- Weekly Dates Out–These dates out are more about talking without interruption and about connecting. That means our dates aren’t event-oriented, but relationship-oriented. We’re at a point in our lives that we pay for weekly babysitters, but this hasn’t always been a possibility for us. In times past, we did a variety of things such as trading babysitting with other friends, trading services with others (once I mentored a college woman in exchange for babysitting; you could teach a skill or trade an item), paying for babysitting once a month or so, or simply asking favors.
- Sex–And a lot of it. If you can be as vulnerable as you need to be with regular sex, it’s easier to be more connected in other ways, too. Just different ways to work things out together. [still snickering]
- Guard Your Tongue–If you find out your spouse gave permission for something you might not have (or vice versa), table your thoughts for a private time with him or her. Best for you to decide together to change the decision than for you to undermine the decision in front of your children. Otherwise, you’re opening the door for strife between the two of you and causing anxiety in your children from the double standards.
- Pray Together–Unity comes through the Spirit. And since one-fleshness is the deepest human to human unity, praying together is a beautiful humbling way to ask the Spirit to continue that unity and draw you even closer together in him.
- Ask Intentional Questions–Each night, Bill and I ask a couple of simple questions to wrap our heads around the next day. We ask how we can pray for each other and for one way we can serve each other. It helps focus the next day on the right priorities.
- Regularly Communicate Throughout the Day–Like most families, at least one of us works outside the home. But with modern technology, it’s usually possible to still connect. Many times if Bill’s at the office or working upstairs, I’ll send him a text to ask help about a decision with the kids. I know he can’t always answer right away, but he can almost always find a brief moment to chime in without too much delay. It’s also sweet to send encouragement and definitely fun to flirt this way.
What are additional ways you and your spouse stay connected in the midst of craziness?