Did you think you were done with dating when you got married? Not so. I’m not suggesting you go fill out a new online dating profile. But resist the urge to mail it in once the honeymoon is over.
I’m ten years in to my relationship with my husband. Seven years married. Are we the same passionate couple we were when we first met? Of course not. We are older, and tired from the daily grind of parenting. But we still try, darn it. And we’re still very happy together. And for that I am grateful.
We are lucky because we have lots of family in town, who are available and free babysitters, and getting out is not very difficult. So we go out on a date, just the two of us, a couple times a month. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Maybe it’s a casual event, a birthday party or maybe we head out just to watch a game. Sometimes we’re due for something more upscale. I like to put on his favorite perfume and a set of sexy heels once and a while. Boyfriend jeans and mom flats just don’t cut it for date night. That’s us. We like to clean up and wine and dine each other and I believe that is part of what is keeping us deeply connected throughout the jungle of parenthood.
I often catch myself wearing pajama pants around the house (same ones for a week at a time), a messy bun, glasses and no make up. And that’s fine sometimes. I’m worn out these days. But I think about the effort I made early on in our relationship. And I’m not just taking about appearances. I’m referring to making time for each other…just each other…to have conversations about real, interesting things…not just calendar items and kid updates. Those kind of exchanges and that dynamic is part of the reason I fell in love with my husband. I want to continue to have those.
Another ritual we have is cocktail hour. When my husband and I get home for the day, he mixes up a martini for us. We chat in the kitchen as he pours and shakes, a process that often takes far longer than it should because he is distracted by our conversation. And that’s a good thing. Then we sit in the living room and (try to) leisurely sip our drinks. Normal dinner time be damned. We’re busy with each other. We catch up on whatever is on our mind. And we put the phones down, picking them up only to look up information that might settle a bet or a playful argument we’re having. Truth be told, we are often interrupted by the kids’ needs, arguments or “hey mom, watch this!” moments. But we remain resolved. We get to the bottom of the martini glass and anything else that might be on our minds. I relish these evenings. And I’ve missed them lately, as my pregnancy has put a hold on a regular cocktail hour. We both noticed that we were a little off as we took that out of our routine.
The point is, when people say marriage is hard…I don’t think that means it has to be difficult. I think it just means you have to keep trying. Keep listening. Keep talking to each other. Keep doing fun things together. Keep holding hands. Keep putting on that lipstick, perfume or heels. Keep dating.