I am personally guilty in getting caught up in my children. This is the time of year that we get hit with articles about how we only have 18 summers with our little ones and we must do everything possible to make them count. We have to “collect memories, not things” and so on. The common theme -- spend your summers dedicated to making sure your kids have the time of their lives.
But I’m going to ask you to take a moment and step away from those (distracting) articles and dig deep. I want you to ask yourself:
What if you focused on your marriage with the same passion that you focus on making sure your kids have 18 memorable summers?
Everyone knows that marriage is hard. For different couples, there are different levels of “hard”; but for military couples those levels are compounded by additional stress and distance. This is nothing new to service members and their families. Even though divorce rates are decreasing throughout the military, the need to put focus on your marriage is ever increasing.
Our kids need us, but our spouses need us too.
The same way that I feel like kids don’t need an expensive vacation every year to have a memorable childhood, focusing on your marriage doesn’t mean an expensive date night every month. I get it, by the time you go to a nice dinner, movie, a walk through Target and Lowe’s (our stores of choice) and pay a babysitter; you’re set back at least $100. While a healthy marriage and connection is definitely worth that, there are small things you can do to keep the romance alive and well.
Consider doing these 9 things for your spouse the rest of the summer:
1. Commit to a 30-second hug every single dayStudies show that after 20 seconds of hugging, your brain releases oxytocin…the Cupid of all hormones. It’s like a love drug, and a great way to greet your spouse as they walk through the door.
2. Binge a Netflix ShowYou might not like the same TV shows, but a good Netflix (and chill, maybe?) session is always a great way to bond. Grab your favorite snacks, snuggle up and catch up on OITNB or House of Cards -- whatever you fancy.
3. Brunch DateFinding a sitter on a weekend is half the battle for married couples, especially when there’s no family around. Find some great couple friends and start a sitting co-op where you switch off child care, and instead of fighting the dinner crowds, find the best brunch spots in town. You’ll save money, time and get the same one on one time.
4. Write them a love letter, just becauseHandwritten letters are becoming a thing of the past, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you may find it easier to express your feelings and communicate better if you can lay it all out with a pen and paper. That letter will be more treasured than any material gift!
5. Make a meal togetherSubscription meal plans like Blue Apron and Home Chef are all the rage! Order one or create a menu together. Cooking a meal together can be an event, if it’s a bit fancier than what you normally serve for dinner. Eat by candlelight and you have the perfect dinner date at home.
6. Game Night After PartyGame night is a big deal in our family, with us playing a game on Friday nights. However, once the kids have tapped out; go into ultra-competitive mode and play a game just the two of you. Show who’s the Uno champion in your house (or *ahem* increase the stakes by making the game a little spicey!)
7. Workout TogetherDoes the couple that does workouts together, stay together? Depends on the workout, possibly. Even if you’re not a gym rat…a leisurely walk where you can both talk about your day and your future can be great bonding time.
8. Breakfast in BedI don’t know anyone who doesn’t like waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon. Make their favorites and surprise them before they crawl out of bed!
9. Overnight GetawayRemember when I mentioned having friends switch off child care? Once you find some that you trust enough (and have built that trust with them for their children), consider doing overnights. Getaway to explore the next town over, a local winery or brewery. Stay at a bed and breakfast. Giving you and your spouse a change of pace and environment is always healthy.
What else would you add to this list? What are the small things you do for your spouse that helps keep your marriage front and center of your family?