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Challenge: Romance After Kids

Valentine’s Day: The Little Things ARE The BIG Things

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So I had a stupid fight with my husband the other night. We were watching a TV show together, and the main character did something that my husband does that really pisses me off. Of course, he let out a hearty "I can TOTALLY relate, Dude" laugh at the character's actions — and it just pressed my button.

"You're a jerk," I said, as he kept laughing.

One thing led to another, and we went to bed sans our usual snuggling, kisses good-night and the trimmings. I then had one of those bad dreams, waking up at 3:45 a.m. (and never falling back asleep). I wanted to curl up to my hubby and then remembered that I was mad at him. As I lay there thinking of everything from A to Z — I realized that for the past 14 years, with three daughters/two dogs in tow, he and I have had the same three fights that come in all different forms. Two of the categories are (if I can admit it here) pretty much my fault — my issues. The third is all his.

And then I thought, as I listened to him snore and watched his peaceful face — (Screw him for ALWAYS being able to sleep through our fights) — I love this guy, with all his faults, my faults; our faults.

Our love is not a Valentine's Day Hallmark Card ... It really is Valentine's DAYS, a collection of moments and how we choose to live them together.


We are passionate about each other — in love and “war.” During the early years, my husband in his anger had broken at least four cell phones over something I did that drove him nuts. He has slept on the couch on a few occasions (a punishment for both of us because neither of us sleeps well without the other). But what we share, deeper than all of it, is care. I never ever feel like "I just don't give a shit." And nor does he.

The Opposite of Love, my friends, is NOT Hate ... it is Indifference.

When you stop caring about who your hubby hangs out with, if he comes home late, if he travels too much for work, what his day was like, what he thinks about, what foods he craves, if he has enough shaving cream and blades, if he is sexually satisfied, if he has enough Me-Time, and if you’ve given him enough attention (even with the constant kid demands) ... this becomes the fine line between love and indifference.

Indifference is worse than hate. Hate is a bullet to the brain; indifference is the loss of love that becomes a noose around the neck. Life but lifeless. Breath without breathing. Lovemaking without passion.

As I was saying, I had a sleepless night ... my thoughts spiraling as I watched my husband in deep R.E.M. But by the time 6:40 a.m. (wake-up call) rolled around, I was over the previous night's fight. I reached for his hand under the covers, and in his still-sleepy state he clasped mine, clearly grateful that whatever bug I had, was now gone.

I got up, looked in the bathroom mirror and thought this is what love is. Every single day allows ME the freedom to choose how it's going to be.

Valentine's Day is not about the flowers and chocolate or the pretty bracelet, it is all about the Little Things you do for each other that make your Big Thing called Marriage work.

Here’s what really makes our marriage thrive: Every day, after the kids go off to school, my hubby and I meet at Starbucks for twenty minutes. No phones, no meetings (if that can be helped), no calls accepted (other than our kids), and we focus on us: the good, the bad, the wonderful, the challenges. He then goes to work, and I stay and write. It starts off both of our days on the right path, knowing and feeling we are in it together.

Coffee time is not about my Grande Extra Hot Mocha With Whip — it is our version of spooning, and it definitely makes the Top 5 list of my favorite things about “Us”.

If early morning coffee time doesn’t work with your schedule or your partner’s, then find a few minutes each day — during the day — to simply let your significant other know that you’re thinking about him/her. This is where those damn emojis come in handy. With one thumb press, a heart or a kiss or bouquet can be sent. It’s the “Hey, I’m crazy here, but still got you on my mind” message. This is sexy. This is connection.

Date Night and anniversary dinner aside, it is truly the tiny meaningful daily tokens of appreciation—on both sides—that make all the difference. These thoughtful gestures acknowledge your togetherness—not just for special occasions or on vacay or when the kids are in camp or sleeping out at Grandma’s. In my Book of Love, this is the marital game changer, turning the ordinary into extraordinary — and come day’s end ... truly the ultimate romantic turn-on.

Lisa Barr is the author of the award-winning novel Fugitive Colors and editor of the popular parenting blog GIRLilla Warfare.

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