In a few days we will be celebrating our eighth year of marriage. My husband and I have always been friends and I think over the years we have evolved into being each other’s best buddy. We can talk for hours about anything but also can stay quiet, just comforted by each other’s company. We rarely fight and I think this is largely due to having the communication lines open. We each revel in our individual pursuits but genuinely enjoy the intersection of our lives. As I look back over the years, I realized that the foundation to all these is the commitment to find time for each other.
Date Night is Not Enough
With all the demands from the various roles that we play it seems like having one night a week for date night is enough. Yes dates are important to keep the relationship exciting but I personally think that quantity of time purposely spent trumps a two hour dinner date.
This means turning the drive home into an opportunity to catch up on how each of your days flowed. Instead of cursing the traffic or snoozing on your partner, talk about how your day went or even about stuff that you read. It may also mean having a quick drink before heading home to unwind after a long day. It is also about finding things that you enjoy doing together and making this a part of your weekly routine. It could be exercise, a hobby or just meeting up with interesting people. Personally, nothing beats the stuff that you repeatedly do everyday or every week versus the bursts of sweetness or surprise (although admittedly this adds spice to life).
Traveling together is sacred for me. Every year we try to find time and save for a trip with just the two of us. I think this is one of the key things that has strengthened our relationship. It is the deliberate focus on each other (you’ve got no choice, right) that allows for the rediscovery and renewal. There is nothing like spending 24/7 with someone you truly love. Just sharing some key tips to get the most out of it:
1. Don’t feel guilty.
It is understandable to feel uneasy with the decision of leaving your kids behind for several days or even weeks. But this time off with your spouse is also important for you to become better partners and ultimately better parents. There is a time for everything, a time for family travel, a time to travel together, a time to travel with best friends or even a time to travel alone.
2. Don’t overly fret.
You won’t enjoy your time together if you are constantly worried about what’s happening back home. Instead, make sure you prepare and cover all possible bases within your control before leaving for your trip. Make sure to also have someone that you trust with your life to be with your kids while you are away. It is also important that you trust them enough to allow them to make decisions on your behalf. In addition, have a set time to contact home and try to keep at it (despite changing time zones).
3. Do stuff you both enjoy.
The time away is a chance to do things together, new or old things that you both enjoy. So go for a run if you like that or join a culinary tour or maybe a bike tour. Or for adrenalin junkies, try out the extreme sport that a destination is known for. Or just watch a show. Or do nothing as you just observe a new city and take it all in.
4. Focus on each other.
At home, there always are other things battling for your attention. This time, stay attuned to your partner’s needs, wants and whims. Treat it as a retreat to find each other again, to rediscover each one’s quirks and reaffirm why you chose to be with this person for the rest of your life.
5. Talk and be quiet.
Part of focusing on each other is taking time to talk. Talk about anything and everything. Talk about your dreams, your fears and frustrations. Talk about how you see yourselves in the years to come. Talk about the people who have shaped your lives. Talk about your kids and laugh about all your booboos at parenting. Just talk. Or choose to just be quiet as you ponder about the year that was or as you think about what life has in store for the coming months and years. Or just be quiet as you hold hands and revel in the thought that you are in this life together, silently committing to your very own tag team and believing that if you work together, great things can happen.