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.