Sunday, June 16, 2013

It’s a Balancing Act : Your Marriage and Children



When I first met my husband, he was in graduate school, and I had unique work schedule, which allowed us to have lazy mornings and mid-morning workouts. We enjoyed camping and hiking on the weekends, picnics at the beach, and day trips up the coast. We spent quite a bit of time traveling, just the two of us.

Then we had our son. Although we still travel, hike, and camp; those lazy mornings, uninterrupted conversations, and romantic weekends are a distant memory.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, but I do find myself missing my husband in the way I used to when we were first dating. The difference is that most of the time, he’s right there, in front of me.

For the first couple of years, most parents are in survival mode; they are sleep-deprived, anxious, and yet so in love with this little being that nothing else in the world matters. As our children grow and become more independent, their needs change. Perhaps because they still seem to be the center of the universe, we forget that our needs…well, that we still have needs.

In recent years, my husband and I have found ourselves away from family and friends. Without that support system or extended family close by, it makes it more challenging to find time to get away. It’s not always easy, or affordable, to get a sitter, so we have had to find creative ways to spend time with one another.

One of our favorites, which, when you say it out-loud sounds a little ridiculous, is shopping. In many of the larger grocery stores in Korea you can find small play-spaces, much like the ones Ikea offers, where you can drop your children off while you shop. For a mere five dollars, I can leisurely walk around the grocery store with my husband for two hours of uninterrupted conversation. It’s worth every penny. We talk, reconnect, and catch up without the constant distractions and half finished sentences. I’ll admit that it’s not the most romantic date-night, but we’ll take it, because making my marriage better benefits the whole family. If we can fill up our emotional gas tanks, we can then tackle the daily challenges of work, school, schedules, routines, and chores with a little more patience and love.

I know it’s easier said than done, and I willingly admit (okay, shamelessly admit), that I’m not always very good at it. But it’s really important to find the energy at the end of the day to just connect, even if only for a few minutes; to talk, listen, and make time for each other. Sometimes, after the dishes have been washed, stories have been read, and we finally have the peace and quiet in our home, the last thing I feel like doing is talking. I find, in fact, that I more willingly connect on Facebook, via email, or by text messaging, than conversation. And yet, it’s during these “stages” that I find myself missing my husband the most, and longing for the life we had before children.

So, it’s time, especially in anticipation of Father’s Day, to put my marriage first. Not only is it a gift for my husband, but one for our son as well.

Here are five things you can do to make your husband happy:
  1. Leave a love note in your husband’s briefcase, tucked under his pillow or in his lunch.
  2. Listen actively, and pay attention. This shows him that you respect him and his views.
  3. When speaking with your husband, hold his gaze. This will assure him that your attention is completely focused on him.
  4. Relive the days of courtship by flirting with your husband. Quietly slip your hand into his, touch his leg under the table or steal a quick kiss.
  5. Go for a walk after dinner, or a hike on the weekends. The fresh air and casual intimacy will do you both good.

It doesn’t take much to connect with your husband; but making it a priority and ensuring it gets done makes all the difference in the world – your world.

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