When my husband and I first got married, we lived in this cute little apartment, in this cute little town in the middle of farm country. It had two bedrooms, a tiny patio, and no dishwasher, so dishes were often piled high as we both silently wondered how long it would take for the other one to finally break and wash the dish pile. We decided not to get cable TV so we could spend more time together, thinking we’d replace TV-watching time with walks and talks and maybe even getting to those dishes once in a while.
Our reality was a little different. Sure, we took walks around our little town and talked and planned and dreamed. But we also worked. A lot. My husband used the spare bedroom to start his first business in between part time jobs and I had papers to grade all the time. Man, that newbie teacher graded a LOT of unnecessary papers. Just sayin’.
We shortly found out we were pregnant with our first baby, and work schedules flipped on their heads and I learned how to grade less papers and Hubby’s office moved from the spare room to its own dedicated room at our new house. We didn’t take a lot of walks because we lived on a busy road and had a mommy who was uptight about sleeping schedules. But we folded a lot of laundry and talked.
One more baby, one more move, one more job change and we were realizing that the time we had always been able to count on and just kind of fit in somewhere most days wasn’t just happening all on its own and we were needing to create time to have a conversation.
We did not get this right over night. In fact it took lots of trial and error to get it right. Because it wasn’t just about the time or the space, but it was about being seen and heard, feeling seen and heard, and realizing that we could make each other a priority in the middle of the mess.
Now, years later, in some ways these habits are second nature to us. We’ve created some routines and habits to our weeks that make getting uninterrupted time together a more frequent occurrence.
And in some ways, we’re still learning these habits, figuring out our groove, and working with our kids as they get older and the number of them grows.
So how do we get uninterrupted time, to talk, to see and be seen, to hear and be heard, in our marriages? (Even with little kids at home?)
How to Create Uninterrupted Time in Your Marriage
- Enjoy face-to-face time. Now ideally, I would be able to sit and talk to my husband, each with a cup of hot coffee in our hands, and I could press my cold feet up against him as I we talked for hours about all the things. But right now, that looks a lot more like handing him a semi-cooled down cup of tea when he comes into the kitchen and popping at least one kid on my lap, so I can look him in the eyes, and listen to what he has to say.
- Enjoy shoulder-to-shoulder time. Not every connecting moment is a huge conversation. Some of my favorite ways to connect with my Hubby are when we’re elbows deep in the dirt out in the garden, only talking to check what to plant next or to ask for a tool. But sharing the experience feels so great, especially when we can look out over it and see what we accomplished together.
- Build weekly habits for time together. We are going on 4 years of at-home-after-the-kids-are-in-bed date nights. This is an idea that we were both skeptical about and never thought would last. With the exception of some newborn or sick kid weeks, we have maintained this habit consistently. We’ve changed nights, changed up some of the things we do. But this time is on our calendar, and makes sure we don’t schedule other things that could get in the way of this time.
- Build daily habits of time together. This is something we’re working through the logistics of in each changing season. Sometimes we send the kids to play while we clean up dinner so we can have the 20 minutes to talk. Sometimes we take 45 minutes to clean up with the kids so they can learn about the responsibility, with the hope that one day we’ll be able to be hands off in this and can spend that time together. We’re working to adjust the times of work and school to spend time together in the afternoons or evenings before we’re both exhausted. And in the last 6 months, we’ve started making it a priority to go to bed at the same time each night. We talk and lay next to each other while we read and we both just insanely love the time.
- Teach your kids that your marriage a priority. This is something we’re working on with our kids, too, as they get older and understand more and more. Saturday nights, for date night, they go to bed a little early and know it’s mommy and daddy’s date night. Sometimes they are given a job or task like putting away laundry or unloading the dishwasher that gives us a couple minutes to start talking. We work with them on interrupting and how to do that well so we aren’t always thrown off a topic completely. But these are things I imagine we’ll be working on for a while as they grow and we add more kids to the mix.
- Savor little moments. When we took our first road trip with our oldest child, I figured it would be like every other road trip we had ever taken, where we could spend hours talking, and reading, and napping (not the driver obviously). Only, it wasn’t. Like, at all. She SCREAMED for hours. Nothing we did helped. She simply didn’t want to be in her car seat and that was a non-negotiable. So for the last almost 6 years, I’ve gotten used to long car rides being more about management than quality time. But our last long drive home from visiting family at Christmas reminded me that we just have to savor the moments we’re given. On that car ride, the big kids got settled in with some books and the baby with some toys and no one needed anything. For 10 minutes. Then 10 more. Then 10 more. And it kept growing. It wasn’t perfect but we could talk and connect and have and enjoy the time because when we noticed it, we decided to savor it and use it well.
- Eliminate other distractions. Whether it’s not getting cable TV, or having no phone hours, or whatever your favorite things are, be sure to have some distraction free time. This may be challenging to put boundaries around, especially if you aren’t even aware of it, but eliminating outside factors that take away from your marriage are super important.
We’re only a few years into this and I see it, the fruit of taking time for our marriage in the middle of this full life. I can see how our marriage has weathered hard seasons. I can see how we’re able to have hard conversations that used to be a lot harder and involve a lot of crying and yelling. I can see how our parenting is stronger because we believe the best about each other and want to be on each other’s team.
It’s why when I hear from you guys or moms in my church or neighborhood about wanting our marriages to grow in this season, or that we don’t know how to take or make the time when it feels like we’re so needed in so many places – THAT’s why I think Intentional Love: 31 Ways to Love Your Husband/Wife with Purpose is so important. These are books that my husband and I wrote and they’re the habits that we’ve seen grow and influence our marriage over the different seasons, and different number of kids, and the full and blessed life we’re living.
Right now, Intentional Love is available for pre-order for just $17.99 a bundle. That’s 35% off the full price for BOTH books – one for husbands and one for wives. And if you order before April 11th, you’ll get additional goodies – like the ebook copies of the books (great for, if you’re like me and have to change reading locations to finish a paragraph) and a gorgeous print.
Intentional Love will
- encourage you as take steps to grow your marriage
- give you tools to grow together during tough seasons
- offer you a starting place for conversations to grow and strengthen your marriage
- teach you about each other
- create opportunities to make each other a priority in the middle of busy lives
Want to read the first few chapters? You can get the Intro + First 3 Chapters of each book delivered to your email.