Daniel and I started dating a few months after my fifteenth birthday during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school He is very much my high school sweetheart. I married him when I was eighteen, just a few short months after I graduated from high school.
In the course of our almost twelve year marriage we have completed four college degrees between the two of us and welcomed five children to our lives. Between full time jobs, college, and our kids and their activities, keeping our marriage and relationship healthy isn’t always the easiest task.
When we committed to each other through marriage we promised that we would always put each other first, even before our children. Our children are extremely important to us and we make sure they have everything they need and are well taken care of mentally, physically, and emotionally. However, in just a few short years (much sooner than I think I will be ready for!) our children will be adults. When our children leave the house, it will be just Daniel and I. We don’t want to spend those empty nesting years trying to repair a neglected marriage so we do our best to make an effort now to keep the flame alive and our relationship thriving.
As parents of small children, we struggle to find time together. Date nights aren’t always a reality for us, especially since the youngest twins were born. We don’t have many people in our lives who willingly volunteer or that we trust to keep all five kids so we can have dinner together. Five kids, especially with two babies, can be overwhelming. So, we do our best to only ask family to babysit if we have work obligations.
Since we don’t feel like we have reliable and readily-available babysitters most of the time we have started making efforts to carve out alone time at home. I thought I would share how we are doing that as an inspiration to other parents of young children.
After the babies were born last August, we were struggling. I was dealing with a bit of postpartum depression and a stressful semester of graduate school on top of midnight feedings. Daniel and I were having a hard time connecting. By Christmas, we were barely talking most of the time. We both recognized that we needed to refocus on us. So my Christmas gift to Daniel was a subscription box called Date Night In.
The Date Night In subscription box arrives once a month. The box contains everything you need for a date night in with your spouse. Each box contains the items needed to complete a specific activity, a treat to share, a recipe to cook and eat together, and something to set the mood. The company also provides a play list to help set the mood as well.
The activities we received in the box have included all kinds of things from writing love letters to playing games together. Every month is new and unique. The box costs $34.99 a month plus tax and shipping. They also have 3-month and 6-month plan that offers a bit of discount as well. If you have the extra money for this each month, I highly recommend it.
I won’t lie. The first few months were hard for me. We were struggling so much that I really didn’t want to participate in the activities but I buckled down anyway and completed the activities included in the box. At this point, I think we both really look forward to getting a new box in the mail each month and completing the dates with each other once the kids are in bed. It is a guaranteed Date Night In once a month!
2. Dinner for Two
Sometimes even if we can get a babysitter, a night out just isn’t in the budget. Making a special dinner together for just the two of us is always a nice way to go. If you have kids and can stand to have a late dinner, I highly recommended waiting to have dinner until after the kids are in bed. Cook dinner together, light some candles, and enjoy a meal without your kids.
There are a ton of recipe books out there that cater to couples. One of my favorites is Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship. This book contains full menus to prepare together and enjoy a night in. Of course, you don’t have to prepare the entire suggested menu. Just a main course or an appetizer provides a nice quiet retreat.
3. Share a Sweet Treat
Sometimes it just isn’t feasible to cook a full meal so Daniel and I have been sharing desserts after the kids are in bed. Sometimes he will run up town and bring back ice cream sundaes to share.
Sometimes we bake brownies or cookies and share them with a big glass of milk. It is nice to curl up together on the couch, share a sweet treat, and have a quiet conversation. If you need some ideas there are some wonderful cookbooks that have sweet recipes just for two. Sweet & Simple: Dessert for Two is a great option!
4. Play a Game Together
My husband loves board games. I’m not so crazy about them. He is constantly trying to get me to play games with him. I have put effort in over the past few years to play more games with him. While games may not be your thing, they do bring some fun and laughs to your relationship. There are plenty of two player games available out there.
Even if we aren’t together, Daniel and I play games. We almost always have some sort of game going on our phones. Games are a good way to build companionship and keep the fun in our relationship.
5. Write Letters
Remember those love notes you wrote when you first started dating. Keep writing them! Even after being married for almost twelve years, Daniel and I still write each other letters and notes. We don’t do it as frequently as we used to but getting a surprise letter from Daniel still makes my heart flutter.
Writing letters promotes better communication in your relationship as well. When you write a letter you have to take the time to actually construct the sentences instead of just letting your thoughts flow out of your mouth. Taking the time to think about what you want to say to your spouse usually results in more meaningful communication.
Daniel and I have also found that sometimes it is easier to write about something going on in our relationship instead of talking about. Sitting down to write a letter keeps the emotions a bit less heated during those times that we are having a disagreement.
We actually keep a moleskin notebook that we have written letters to each other in over the years. He will write me a letter and leave it on my nightstand. I’ll respond and leave it on his. Sometimes we keep up with this well. Other times it falls to the back burner for us. Writing letters definitely runs in cycles for us but it is an awesome communication tool.
Need More Ideas?
Still looking for more ideas to keep the romance alive? There are some amazing books available that promote healthy relationships. We recommend 52 Uncommon Dates: A Couple’s Adventure Guide for Praying, Playing, and Staying Together. We also own both the husband and wife version of 100 Ways to Love Your Wife: A Life Long Journey of Learning to Love.
What are your favorite tips for maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse?
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