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Challenge: Romance After Kids

The secret to our marriage is escaping

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My husband and I sleep in separate beds. Sad, I know. But I often fall asleep in one of my kid’s beds while tucking them in for the night. And there I stay until morning.

But on other nights my husband and I share our bed with a bevy of others. And no, we aren’t swingers. We are parents.

Some warn against co-sleeping, but I would like to caution them that sometimes you just wave the white flag of surrender and call it a night. Mama needs her sleep.

We have three small children. The youngest is 2, the oldest is 8, and the middle is 5 and kicks in her sleep. They like to block us from all romantic interludes.

However, we don’t let them win. I might not always sleep in the same bed with my farmer husband, but that doesn’t mean that our house is not full of romance in all the small ways.

  • We kiss each other good-bye every time we part.
  • We hold hands and look each other in the eye when we talk.
  • We cuddle on the couch when we watch tv.
  • We say “I love you” at the end of every single phone conversation.
  • I write sappy social media posts about him. The most memorable being when I described him as BA AF because he stood up to a domestic abuser for the sake of a woman he’d literally just met. And then, as I soon found out, my mother-in-law proceeded to tell our church pastor “what a sweet post I’d made about her son”, but she “doesn’t know what BA AF means.” Yeah…that one was humiliating cause I’m not a curser. But on this particular circumstance language needed a bit more edge. She still doesn’t know what it means, but my husband thought this rare wild-streak with my language was endearing.

My husband has been my sweetheart since high school. And after being married for almost fifteen years I can tell you that romance looks way different at each stage of our lives. Not bad, but different.

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Now flirting translates to winking at my husband and telling him to turn on an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and, “I’ll meet you in the bedroom” (if you are reading this with a puzzled look then you clearly don’t have children and understand the need of the television babysitter).

My google search says that romance is a feeling of excitement, mystery, and an escape from the ordinary. Ordinary for us meaning dirty diapers, yoga pants sans yoga, and “taco Tuesdays” made from the box. Excitement means kissing with an onlooker yelling, “YUCK!” I truly ADORE this life and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Parenthood makes us laugh and brings my husband and I so much joy.

However, ESCAPING is one of the key secrets to keeping our marriage strong. This is time where we get away from the ordinary, just the two of us, at least once a year. And we thank our parents for gifting us these opportunities by babysitting our brood.

As parents of young ones our lives are spent in a bustle of activities, working, cleaning, trying to hang on to friendships for dear life, and struggling for time to just wash our hair. Ya’ll feel me?

One-on-one time with our husband is often the midnight hour when our eyes are tired. Our bodies are exhausted. And we don’t want to be needed. We just want to binge food. A book. Or a movie.

But for the sake of our marriages. For our kids. And for ourselves we can’t keep this up. We can’t resort to wearing apathy on our hearts. Nothing is sadder than a marriage that just “doesn’t care” anymore.

My husband and I made the commitment a long time ago that we weren’t going to stop flirting or romancing each other just because we have kids.

At this stage of our lives it’s less flowers and more help with the dishes. It’s less candlelight dinners and more stolen kisses while we convince our kids to eat their vegetables. But we still like to pinch each other on the butt. Hey, sometimes you can't escape high school antics.

But, every once in a while, we capture the opportunity to ESCAPE the everyday.

We’ve found, that for us, escaping for an extended time is vital. And I’m not talking about “couple trips” with friends (although those are super fun) but I’m talking about just me and my hubby. That’s it.

During these trips (some are far away and some are just thirty-minutes away) we get to have conversations that are completely uninterrupted without someone yelling, “MOM, I’m done” and then tush-wiping.

During these trips we get to be silly and irreverent and not have to worry about the safety of a little person. In fact, we get to rediscover ourselves. For our ten-year anniversary we jetted to the Bahamas and did things just for us: scuba diving, snorkeling, and just sitting on the beach watching the waves without refereeing sibling squabbles centered around “he TOUCHED my sandcastle.”

During these mini-honeymoons we get to dress-up or down. We get to create new memories, so we have more to talk about then childcare or basketball games.

Last month we went to our friends 40th birthday party in Nashville and got to dance at the honky-tonk and also slice into a delicious meal while sitting across from one another having an adult conversation that included adult humor.

And, at the end of the night, we got to sleep in the same bed. All by ourselves.

I love my children with all of my heart, but I loved my husband first and want to make sure our marriage lasts forever. And for us that means, every once in a while, we escape to spend uninterrupted time together. We leave the everyday to embrace the mystery of each other.

Marriages often fail because of lack of communication so we make sure to set aside time to communicate and enjoy each other. Maybe you can’t get away for an extended time but can do weekly or monthly date nights, maybe you both love live-music or playing basketball together, or maybe you enforce a strict bedtime, so you and your hubby get time together each evening…you do what works for you! For our marriage we choose to invest in the smallness of the everyday and the bigness of getting away.

This might sound controversial, but contrary to pop culture, investing time with my husband is more important than investing time with besties or making sure my kid gets drafted by the NBA. So, I prioritize this in our schedule--even if it means riding beside him on a tractor while he bales hay.

I might often wave the white flag of surrender and cuddle in the bottom bunk with the two-year-old, but I’ll never wave the white flag of surrender on romancing my husband.

Mama needs the love of her life. So, I’ll forever invest in us.

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