Date Night May Save Your Marriage
Our marriage counseling advice? Plan time to spend together, communicate and strengthen your relationship.
Having kids forever changes the dynamic of a marriage. No matter how close a couple is, children’s needs inevitably siphon off the undivided attention spouses once paid to each other. We’ve all had days when family agendas are so full that there’s no time to have anything but the most cursory conversation with our partner.
Husband-and-wife healthy-marriage experts K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky, coauthors of the book Facebook and Your Marriage, know well the myriad stresses put on the modern marriage. Wed since 1994, the so-called “Social Media Couple” have four kids and dozens of tips about maintaining connubial bliss, including the three they share here.
Secrets to a happy marriage
Set up safeguards or boundaries. For example? The Krafskys agreed early on that they would never use the “D word” (“divorce”) during arguments. Another safeguard could be saying no to commitments that infringe on your couple or family time. Setting boundaries for children is just as important; a consistent toddler bedtime gives parents time alone in the evening they can count on.
Maintain your individuality. “It’s important to respect, honor and support your spouses’ outside interests, because that piece is needed to be a healthy and whole individual,” says Kelli. Whether it’s poker night with the guys or a knitting stitch-in with the gals, you and your partner need time to nurture your own hobbies and friends.
Seek marriage counseling. One mistake K. Jason has often seen couples make is in feeling that they are the only ones with relationship problems. “Realize that a lot of the issues couples go through are normal,” he says. “It’s natural — part of the ever-changing lives that we lead.”
If you find your marriage struggling, help isn’t far away. Check with your religious institution, community college or local hospital for classes or counseling. Many medical insurance carriers include counseling as a covered benefit.
Furthermore, K. Jason suggests you and your spouse sync up the following five marriage-maintenance strategies on your “Couple’s Calendar.”
Put it on the Couple’s Calendar
Daily: Ask yourself, “What was it like to be married to me today?” This sounds simple, but your evolving answers can be profound.
Weekly: Date night is here. This doesn’t have to involve dinner, a movie and hiring a babysitter for hours. It can entail just spending time together after the kids go to sleep, going out for a quick coffee or doing some grocery shopping. “Keep date night about fun and friendship, and keep major issues off the table,” says K. Jason. “Nurturing the fun and friendship side of marriage is as important as nurturing the bedroom side.”
Monthly: Have a couple’s meeting about the business side of your marriage. This is the time to bring up concerns or issues. Because both parties have prior notice, neither one should feel ambushed by the discussion.
Quarterly: Read, watch or attend something about improving relationships, either together or individually. For instance, read one chapter of a book that focuses on a weak spot in your marriage, then discuss your impressions. Find more ideas in the “Couple Checkup” section of K. Jason’s blog.
Annually: Take two or three days away from the kids to have fun as a couple. If your budget is tight, send the kids to Grandma’s or a friend’s house for the weekend so you can spend time together at home.
Squeezing in so many twosome tune-ups can seem overwhelming. Even taking one or two small steps to improve or maintain your marriage can help. As K. Jason advises: “If you’re not doing anything, start. If you are doing something, take it to the next level.”
Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer and mother of three. Read more of her writing at TDGuerzon.com.