Parenting & Marriage: How To Put Your Relationship First

I have found myself in a really sweet spot in my parenting journey, and it has really benefitted my marriage—my kids are now old enough to stay home on their own, and I am back to dating my husband again.

Nothing strengthens a marriage like time alone together, and we’ve been having the best time exploring our town, just us two. If you aren’t there yet, don’t despair! We had 13 years of a different kind of date before we got to this point, so I have a lot of ideas for you too. Here are a few things that have given our marriage a much-needed boost over the years.

Five Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage While Raising Kids

1. Try journaling together

You don’t need to have a babysitter to communicate! My husband and I found a book titled, “Our Q&A a Day: 3-Year Journal For 2 People,” and it’s full of quick questions that you each answer daily to help you get to know each other better.

Even though my husband and I have been together for many years, I have made some great discoveries from his answers (and some belly laughs at his humor). The journal travels from my pillow to his and back again as we answer the questions. When things start to feel out of whack in our marriage, this tool helps us to get talking again.

2. Recreate your first date

I met my husband in high school while performing in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” This summer, I snagged two tickets for us to catch an outdoor performance of the show that started it all. I can’t tell you how good it was for us to relive that moment 20 years later and just how crazy I was about him all over again after recapturing the magic of that show. Do you have a first date spot or a place where the journey of you began? Consider reliving that moment together in some small way to rekindle the fire.

3. Stay active together

Whether you are tackling a 5K (and training together), hitting the gym on a Saturday, or going for a leisurely walk at the farmers market, getting active with your spouse can be a fun and affordable way to enjoy time together that has a great impact on your health.

If you aren’t doing anything to cultivate your marriage now, what is that going to look like when the kids are gone?

4. Make a dating bucket list

This year the two of us are discovering all these fun things that dating couples do in our town. We have been missing a lot for 13 years, so we started a bucket list. Since we are foodies, our bucket list has consisted of visiting the highest-rated local restaurants and places according to Yelp. If food isn’t your thing, consider making a bucket list that caters to your own hobbies and interests, and make a plan to visit one every month.

To reinforce the importance of our dating bucket list (and not get called home), we pay our kids each five dollars if they are nice to each other while we are gone. Although the incentive seems small, they love a little extra cash, and adds up as we cross off items on our list.

5. Just be together

Date nights can get expensive, so as long as we are together (and I mean REALLY together and not on our respective devices), I am thankful. Whether it is watching a new documentary on Netflix and chatting after, battling each other in Scrabble or listening to “This American Life” by the fire with wine, I am just as thankful for these quiet moments as the grand ones.

Remember, when the kids move on to college and become adults, it will just be the two of you. If you aren’t doing anything to cultivate your marriage now, what is that going to look like when they are gone? The investment, whether big or small, will always be worth it.

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