How do I find time to do the things that I do? Well… for starters (and as previously mentioned…) I don’t manage to always find/make the time for all the things I would like. However, when I do, I can probably attribute a big part of my success to my husband Brandon – for his support, his desire to be around, his chosen career, the things he allows to make demands on his own time and energy… the importance and priority that he places on being an active and present husband and father.
I am blessed to have such a man in my life.
And as our 9-year wedding anniversary approaches it is fitting to reflect a little on how we manage (or don’t) to find time specifically for us, for our couple. With three little girls and all of our other responsibilities, hobbies and interests – it is all too easy to let “us” fall through the cracks.
We know how important it is to make the time for one another.
We know that if we put our couple first the benefits will overflow to the rest of our family.
We love each other.
We like each other.
We enjoy spending time together.
It seems like so many good intentions are lost at the end of a busy day… a busy week… a busy year…
Our schedules (especially with me being home on maternity leave right now) provide us with ample time “together”. It’s making the most of that time and setting aside special time that tends to be our problem.
We haven’t been “just the two of us” for more than 12 hours in a row (most of which has usually been spent sleeping) since Violet was born last July. We haven’t been on a real date since going to see Godspell at the Centaur theatre in February (that’s 1…2…3 months back…). We tried to do the whole “couple dinner after the kids are in bed” thing a couple months ago. It was great. We both really enjoyed it. We lasted 3 weeks?!? Why?
But we must be doing something right if we still love each other, like each other and enjoy spending time together… right?
So what do what do I think we do well…?
We (try to) avoid over-scheduling our time. We make a conscious effort to BE AROUND as much as possible. He has his hobbies and activities. I have my own. As the girls get older, we’re trying to stay firm on our commitment to avoid over-scheduling their time. We don’t hold each other back, but we both make time at home and time together a priority. It is very rare that we go a week without having at least one quiet evening at home. This doesn’t mean that we always have the will or the energy to take advantage of that time to have deep and important conversations or hot steamy sex, but it’s an important first step towards either, both or other desirable and memorable moments together.
We talk. Lots. Sometimes our best talks happen during our evening family dog walk. The older girls are giggling and prancing ahead of us… Violet is strapped snuggly into the stroller or the baby carrier and we walk side by side and just… talk. Sometimes it’s just about our day (as a high school teacher, Brandon always has great stories to tell!). Sometimes it’s about something funny (or irritating) that one of the girls said or did. Sometimes it’s about the future… our hopes, wishes, dreams… our questions. We talk about what we like. We talk about what we don’t like. We disagree. We chat about what type of house we should have, where we should live, IF we should move at all. We offer each other a different perspective on a myriad of topics, issues, situations…
We do our own thing WITH each other. He wants to play a videogame, I want to research ideas for a new outdoor deck. Our house is a split level bungalow so it would be easy to have two or three floors separating us while we go about our different things. I have to give Brandon credit for this because he often verbalizes the desire to have me “near” him even if we’re not actually doing something together. “Come sit and talk with me while I…”.
We touch each other… often. I’m not talking dirty here, just plain and simple physical affection. Hugs, hand holding, a lingering hand on his shoulder… kisses on the back of my neck while I wash the dishes… These brief moments of physical connection draw us closer to each other and help us to feel a little less like strangers coming together at the end of the day when we lie down next to one another at night.
And on that note…
We close our eyes together at the end of the day. A lot of couples are working on totally different sleep schedules and needs. Some even swear by their choice to sleep separately. I’m not knocking either. But speaking for myself, I feel quite lucky to have similar sleep requirements and habits as Brandon. I really enjoy that we go to bed at the same time most nights. Does it mean we spend more quality time together? Not always. But it provides a quiet and cozy opportunity for us to chat or snuggle before the lights go out.
What could we work at…?
We need to “go out” together more. Setting a regular date night would be a good start. We need to schedule it. We need to stick to it.I think there is just something about a meal at a restaurant or a special activity together that reinforces the bonds that are already there. At the core of the very idea of going out is the notion of FUN. We need to get away from our home, our responsibilities and to do lists,and make having fun together a priority. After all, nights out shouldn’t just be with the “girls” or with the “guys”… or even with other couples.
We should bring back a weekly stay-at-home date night. We’ve tried this before. It’s lots of fun with minimal effort. I plan a slightly nicer dinner for us that night and offer the girls something extra simple so that we’re not creating too much extra work for ourselves by making two separate meals. We crack open a bottle of wine, dim the lights a little and the conversation just flows. It’s absolutely fantastic. I have NO IDEA why we just stopped doing it. I repeat – we need to schedule it – we need to stick to it.
Finding a common “extra curricular” activity or hobby. For some couples this is so easy, so obvious. For Brandon and me, this has always been more difficult. As much as we share similar views on the important stuff in life (our values, how to raise our children, how to spend our money…) we are so so so very different is so many ways. Namely in the area of hobbies and interests. I would say that I like and appreciate animals. Brandon is an true (and knowledgeable) animal lover. Where I’ve always had an on-again/off-again relationship with exercise and fitness, Brandon has been exercising religiously for more than a decade. He likes playing team sports. I get nervous playing tag and would really rather take up something like skiing. And my interests – such decorating and renovating the house, dabbling in simple upgrades to my cooking/baking repertoire – seem less like hobbies and more like an extension of stuff that needs to be done anyways. So where can we find common ground? Is it enough to simply tolerate or go through the motions or encourage him to spend time doing what he loves? I don’t know. Ideally, I’d like us to find a solid activity or hobby that we both enjoy – a reason for us to spend more quality time together… building on our relationship in a new and different way.
What do others have to say? How do they make time for their couple?
When I started writing this post, I did a little online research and threw out the question to my facebook friends. A lot of what I read fell into what I’ve already mentioned – Date nights (in or out), having fun together, enjoying a shared hobby or interest… one site even went into the benefits of a couple “bedtime” routine – cuddles, chatting, connecting – to close the day and restore a sense of togetherness (much like we do when we hug and kiss our children goodnight) regardless of whether you’re both actually going to sleep at the same time.