My husband, Jeremy, grew up on the hit reality television series “Little People, Big World,” and millions of people watched our love story unfold as we fell in love and dated from a distance. After much debate, prayer and serious consideration, we tied the knot on national television. And then last year, after even more prayer and discussion, we decided to step away from the show altogether.
Photo by DawnPhoto
But aside from the whole reality TV chapter of our lives, we’re your normal 20-something-year-old married couple living with our daughter, Ember, and kitty, Pine. As carefree yet intentional, spontaneous and sometimes fiery souls, Jer and I built a love story from the beginning where we were always adventuring, and acting on our spontaneity.
While there’s still plenty of romance between us nearly a year and a half after the birth of our beautiful baby girl, we’ve had to ramp up the intentionality and planning required to keep it there! Tiny humans are game-changers in so many ways. But with a little effort and lots of communication, we’ve found a few things that help us to keep our post-baby love alive:
The Marriage Journal
We set aside time together every. single. week. to go through our marriage journal and discuss our answers to six simple questions. This practice keeps us grounded and on the same page—it’s a chance for us to connect, hear each other’s joys and struggles, resolve any outstanding conflict, and talk about our dreams and desires. It’s out “good time to talk about it” amidst our busy lives. This time is non-negotiable for us. No rainchecks. We can each manage an hour in our schedule every week to make each other, and our marriage, a priority. Truly, this has been the biggest tool for communication in our marriage relationship.
Each night, we write down one thing we appreciate, love or admire about our spouse on a little piece of paper, and we read them together before going to bed. Then we stick them in a cute little mailbox we keep in our room. This is something small that Jer did for me on my birthday a few years ago, and we decided to incorporate it as a daily practice in our home. Daily taking the time to affirm each other has been a refreshing practice.
Connect AND disconnect
In our always-on world, we need regular time to connect with each other and disconnect from the world around us. For us, connecting with each other can simply look like a long hug in the kitchen every morning. It also means disconnecting from our phones and social media—every night as soon as we hit the bed, and then weekly on Sundays. We have a strict “no work or social media” policy every Sunday, and it’s a great time for us to connect as a family, refresh, rest, and make space for romance.
Planning date nights and intimacy
As naturally spontaneous people, it took us a while to accept the idea that things can still be fun if they require planning! We plan regular date nights and do our best to keep them light and fun—saving the heavy, conflict-sparking conversations for our weekly marriage journal entries. And honestly, sometimes we have to set aside time for physical intimacy. We’ve learned that it’s okay to do whatever we need to do to make sure the magic happens.
One of my favorite parts of our courtship was writing each other love letters—but I can’t take the credit, it was totally Jer’s idea! But I did have the idea to continue writing each other a letter on each anniversary, to be read together on our anniversary the following year. We started this annual tradition on our honeymoon, and it’s one of my most favorite things that we do. What is more romantic than a love letter?!
Schedules can get crazy, parenthood can be overwhelming, and marriage can be hard. But making romance—and more importantly, each other—a priority has proven to be beneficial for our marriage as young parents, and I dare say it’s helping lay a solid groundwork for whatever life throws our way in the years to come.
So if you do nothing else today, give your spouse a long hug. Tell them one thing you love about them. Put your phone away. Make some space for genuine connection and romance is sure to follow.