It's remarkably easy to let your job, the kids, volunteer work or time with friends and extended family interfere with your marriage. Life revs up and suddenly you and your spouse realize that you haven't had a one-on-one conversation about anything important or personal in days, maybe even weeks. Oh, sure, you've spoken with each other: "What time will you be home for dinner?" "Do you think we should pay the electric bill first or the gas bill?" But that kind of conversation is co-existing.
It's not being married — at least not by itself. You need quality time together.
If you're both super-busy, try scheduling quality time. Here are some ideas to help you find it.
Date Night — Or Week
This one can seem hard to manage if you have one or more small children. Who will watch the kids? Can family step in or will you have to pay a sitter? Do what you have to do to pull it off. It will be worth it, both in the short-term and in the long run.
If babysitting is a problem, consider working out a deal with other parents. It's probably safe to say that they're struggling to find time for themselves just as you are. Maybe you can take all the kids this Friday night so they can spend some alone time together, then switch it up next week and send your kids off to their house.
Try to schedule one night a week — or at least every other week — for yourselves. No kids. Rediscover the two people you were when you were dating.
Go out for dinner, catch a movie, or go to a concert if that old band you used to love comes to town. Better yet, discover a new band neither of you have had time to enjoy yet.
Whether it's a night or a weekend, inscribe the date and time on your calendar, put it in your computer planner, or enter it on your smartphone to-do list.
Barring illness or an emergency, make it as inviolate as possible. Don't let life interfere.
If dinner just isn't happening because of budgetary concerns, do lunch. If spending money on lunch is out of the question, pack a meal from home and meet in the park. You probably didn't have a lot of money when you were young and meeting for the first time, and you don't need it now.
Steal away together when life presents unforeseen 10-minute breaks. It's OK to tell the kids that you need time alone together. Tell them they can knock on your closed bedroom door if there's blood, exposed bones or fire. Explain that it's not an emergency if Johnny won't give a toy back. You'll be back to rescue that toy in a jiffy.
Now you've taught your kids a few things. You're as good as your word because you did indeed come back to reclaim the toy. Patience is a virtue. And it takes deliberate effort to make a relationship work and thrive.
Do chores together when you can, like the dishes or weeding. It may not sound like quality time, but it can be. Turn off the radio or CD player in the car when you're running errands together. Talk with one another instead.
Take showers together. If you save this one until after the kids are in bed, it can open up all sorts of interesting opportunities for reconnecting.