Three Tips to the Marriage of a Lifetime

Wake up. Go to work.  Go to the gym.  Come home.  Eat.  Sleep.

Wake up. Go to work.  Go to the gym.  Come home.  Eat.  Sleep.

Wake up. Go to work.  Go to the gym.  Come home.  Eat.  Sleep.

Anyone else feel me with this?

I see you with your hand raised.  Yes.  From Monday through Friday, this is my life.  Maybe there is some variation because of a state holiday or night time school event, but most weekdays our family runs through the same rinse and repeat cycle.

It can get pretty wearisome, to say the least.   Friday nights, which used to be the “going out to a nice restaurant” night has degenerated into our family splayed out on the living room carpet, watching some kind of animated Disney movie, and falling asleep by 8pm.

This schedule is tiring, not just physically and mentally, but also relationally.  Like, with my husband and I.  When I actually think about how much we see one another during the week, it comes out to a whopping 5-7 hours.  Five to seven!!!  I see my high school students more than I see my own spouse.  How then are we able to maintain a relationship without spending gads of time with one another?  Here are the top three things we do to make sure our marriage is one of strength and love.

Bae.
  1.  We have “No talking to mommy and daddy” time.

Yup, that is correct.  One of the best pieces of advice we ever received about creating a long-lasting marriage was from our pre-martial pastor/counselor.  He mentioned how children need to see their parents interacting as a couple, a husband and wife.  They need to see them give one another a hug and kiss.  They need to see dad honor mom and mom honor dad.  Most importantly, they need to see how mom and dad’s relationship is vital for the family, and in order for that family to thrive, parents need to talk.  About parent stuff.  Adult stuff.  Stuff not related to kids.

Kind of mind blowing advice, but let me tell you, it’s gold.  From when our daughter was born, my husband and I decided that we needed time just to be US, and so we’d set aside at least 10 minutes everyday where we could talk.  Most times it’s after dinner when we are still seated at the table and the kiddos have washed their dishes and are playing on their own.  But during those moments, hubby and I can chat about anything.  Music.  Work.  Movies.  Books.  Whatever tickles our fancy.  And I love it.  And he loves it.

So what happens when little girl comes in and wants to join in the conversation?  I tell her that we will talk to her in xxx minutes, but right now is mommy-daddy time.  And so she leaves.  Maybe this sounds harsh to you, but those ten minutes a day have allowed my husband and I to remain connected during despite our weary weekday schedule.

 

2.  We have date nights.

Many couples already do this sporadically, but we make it an institution.  At least monthly, if not more often.  Nothing fancy.  Dinner at a place we can’t normally go to with a seven and three-year-old.  A gym date where we go to lunch after lifting some iron.  Ice cream in the afternoon.

We are pretty fortunate in that we are blessed with both of our parents readily available to let the kids sleep over for the night while we go out.  What would we do if grandma and grandpa weren’t living near to us and didn’t want to spoil their grandchildren with trips to Target and McDonalds?  Most likely, we’d improvise.  Hire a sitter.  Ask a close friend.  Even take the kids to the kid’s club at the gym and spend two hours working out together.  Dates don’t always have to be romantic, late-night outings.  Even a simple trip to get coffee and reconnect is grand.

Intentionally setting aside time to be with one another reminds us that we are still US.  We are not only parents or caretakers.  Before the children, our family was founded on the love and relationship my husband and I cultivated, and so going on these date nights rekindles that sense of relational strength.

 

3.  We keep our priorities straight.

It’s no secret my husband and I live at the gym.  It really is our second home.  He does BJJ, and I weightlift.  To the observer it would appear that sports and athletics take precedence over everything else in our lives.  Not so.  My husband and I know that family, God, and friends are of utmost importance, and so we cherish the relationships we have.  We invest our time to building new connections and ensuring the relationships we have now remain strong.  So when it comes to our priorities, family will always come before the barbell or gi.  Always.  Having that same mindset definitely helps, because I know that when my husband goes to BJJ class at night, the martial art is not more important than his family–the sport is his way of unwinding and releasing the stress of the day.  Same with me.  When I train for weightlifting, my husband understands that I am putting in time to develop in the sport, yet the sport is not more important than him or our children.

 

I know some of you may be thinking, “Wow.  Lauren’s marriage is lovely.  Wonderful.  No problems at all!”  Well, let me tell you, my husband and I are two fallible human beings.  He does not know how to wash dishes.  I can’t pick a restaurant to eat at.  He makes a lot of farts.  I do too.  Yes, we argue and disagree and get mad, but at the end of the day, we both find an agreement to a problem and never let the sun go down on our anger.  We remember why we love one another and look forward to what the future holds for us as the Takao family.

And if you’re wondering, yes, we have our next monthly date planned.  October 20th.  We are going to see Def Leppard in concert.  It’s a pretty big deal for us, as we both love the band.  It’s going to be a crazily noisy, wonderful experience.  It’s going to rock.  And it’s one more step, one more adventure, in our lifetime together.

 

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