November 12th, 2007

Your Turn: Couple Time

A Reader Writes:
I’m writing because I wonder how I can get some alone time with my husband. We have 5 children ages 8,6,4,2, and 11 months. My husband basically starts working (from the home) at 6:00 then leaves for work away from the house at 7:30. He gets home in time for supper at 6:00, and by 9:00 he is pretty much ready for bed. He is a great husband and father. I guess part of the issue is that I hate to put the kids to bed too early, because then they don’t get any time with their dad. Am I making a mistake in doing this?

It’s not a mistake to make sure your kids spend regular time with their dad, but it is a mistake to neglect your marriage in the name of doing so. Time spent alone together is essential to a healthy marriage. You don’t have to sacrifice your kids to do it, but making couple time a priority (especially while your kids are so small) will require some effort on your part.

Here are my rules for couple time:

1. Make it regular. Once a week is a good start. Schedule it ahead of time and make sure the whole family knows what is going on. I think planning at least 2 hours together each week is a good idea. It’s a bit tricky to do with a house full of little ones and a husband who needs to be in bed by 9 pm, but you can do this. Maybe he can stay up later on a weekend night or you could schedule your time together on Saturdays during the daytime?

2. Make it simple. Most young couples with growing families need to be careful with their money. If you can afford a babysitter and dinner out, go for it! If you can’t, you’ll need to be a bit creative. Use bedtimes, naptimes, or movies with popcorn to keep the kids occupied. Depending upon the time of day you choose and your personal preferences, you and your husband can share a meal, have coffee, or play a game. Do the kinds of things you used to enjoy when you were dating. Did you read poetry together? Did you discuss politics? Did you watch sports or movies? It doesn’t need to be fancy or wildly romantic. Dan and I sometimes like to get takeout and watch a movie together after the kids are in bed. Some of our most memorable “dates” have been as easy as opening a bottle of wine and playing a game of Scrabble. The point is to connect through shared activity and time spent together.

3. Make it mandatory. There simply is no getting out of couple time. No excuse is acceptable. You do have 2 hours a week to give to your marriage. Period. I don’t want to hear any complaints. Your family life might be busy, but it’s also too important to neglect its foundation — which is your marriage.

I would love to hear how others manage couple time in their marriages.

52 comments to Your Turn: Couple Time

  • Joan

    To Anonymous,
    Are you and your friends friendly with my husband? You know, we aren’t picking on you guys. We like to talk about things that are going on. You know, lay it out on the line. It is a two way street you know. Tell us what’s bothering you, and guess what? WE might just surprise you with a little something extra on date night.

  • This is such a great topic. We have 2 kids, 2 and 3 mos. They go to bed around 7. We don’t have scheduled couple time like some people, but we do alternate between doing our own thing in the evenings and hanging out together by watching a movie, listening to the radio or just talking about stuff. Tonight we had fantastic couple time after the kids went to bed…lit some candles, listened to music and just talked about the day and spent time together. We both said we should do this more often. And after reading some of the previous suggestions, I think it’ll happen more often! Thank you!