When Migs and I got married, we had all the time in the world for weekly date nights. I would look for interesting places to dine in or visit.
We went out of town frequently on planned or spontaneous trips. When we felt lazy, we would stay at home to have movie marathons.
This week we are celebrating nine years of marriage. After close to a decade and three children, things are a little different.
Sleep and time have become luxuries. Many times, romance gets pushed aside in favor of domestic duties, family or fun time with the kids.
But, as they say, one of the best gifts we can give our children is a happy family with parents who love each other. (Though in other cases, a single, loving and dedicated parent is better than having two fighting or absentee parents.)
I try to keep this in mind whenever I arrange schedules and decide what to prioritize in my day. Many times, the thought of stepping out to go on a date or do something simple like watch a movie can make a mom feel very guilty.
Raising three children can really take all of one’s time and attention. But I remind myself that just as I make an effort to catch up with my kids, know their thoughts and feelings, my husband and I have to do the same with each other.
When Migs and I have the chance to spend time together, I am always surprised by how much there is we have to talk about, although, like most men, my husband prefers to listen while I, as anyone who knows me will tell you, can talk for hours on end.
Sometimes we talk about specific issues like the kids and work. Other times, we just let our thoughts wander. Then there are times we just walk around or enjoy a good movie.
But like anything in marriage, things don’t just fall into place. It takes a conscious effort on our part.
And while I am no marriage expert or counselor, may I share ways on how I find time to reconnect with my husband.
Schedule regular date nights.
Whether you make it weekly, twice a month or once a month, keep that date sacred. I find “weekly” too challenging; perhaps a monthly date is easy to plan and stick to.
If there is time for an extra date or two during the month, I consider it a bonus.
It’s not about grossing out the people around you and being told to get a room. It’s in the small things—continuing to hold hands, touching your spouse’s hair or giving a tight hug and quick smooch before leaving for work.
Being able to physically stay in touch through simple daily actions can help you maintain a sense of intimacy with one another.
Ask help from trusted friends and relatives.
Sometimes the spirit is willing, but what can you do if there is nobody to watch your kids? After all, having to make time for your spouse is no license to neglect your children.
Fortunately, Filipinos never run out of family and friends to call on for help. I am lucky that we always have two grandmothers who are more than happy to have the kids spend the weekend in their homes. They are always the first to encourage us to go out or travel so that they can keep the kids with them longer and more often.
Knowing that my kids are in the hands of people I trust and who are happy to spend time with them allows me to spend guilt-free time with my husband.
Do things together for the kids.
Who says everything has to be done by mom? In this day and age, I see so many amazing “hands-on” dads involved in their children’s lives.
When schedule permits, invite your partner to accompany you in the million and one things you do for the kids and make a date out of it.
Make the most of what you have.
Sometimes things don’t work out and you don’t have the energy to fight for romance. Times like these, don’t give up! A cozy pizza dinner and watching a DVD movie after the kids have gone to sleep can be just as good as a night out on the town.
You and your spouse are there as companions to one another. Raising a family doesn’t mean we forget our partner’s needs or relegate them to a distant second.
One day, the roller-coaster ride of taking care of children will come to an end. They will grow up and have lives of their own, and we will be left with the person we started out with.
My goal is to continue taking care of each other just as well as we take care of our children, so that in the end, we will still recognize the person we married years ago and be able to enjoy the next phase of our lives together.