When we became parents, our entire universe shifted. What happened to the couple we were?
|By Lisa Lakey, Family Life|
Before kids, Josh and I went to
movies not rated G and ate at restaurants not offering Styrofoam cups. We spent
our weekends doing whatever we wanted, staying up late, and sleeping in later.
Then we became parents. And our
entire universe shifted. Psychological thrillers were exchanged for films
featuring talking animals. Those overpriced, chef-prepared meals turned into a
quick drive-thru at Chick-fil-A. Even dinners at home became a frenzied rush to
feed an overtired, hungry toddler before we all started crying.
And doing whatever we wanted? We
traded impromptu getaways for play dates at the park.
But it wasn’t just our schedules
and interests that took a drastic turn. Our relationship was not the same as it
was in the pre-parent world. I no longer felt sexy and confident in my
husband’s presence. I felt tired, frumpy, and the farthest thing from
Even simple conversation took a
hit. Days would go by without meaningful talks between the two of us. We were
slowly drifting away from each other.
The worst part? We didn’t even
Two are better than one
For most couples, it’s a slow
fade from to in marriage. I think this is especially true
for parents. The long nights, the demands of parenting, conflicting work
schedules, too many commitments, or even the struggles of blending a stepfamily
… it all adds up over time. That’s why it takes effort for couples to stay
connected emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Disconnecting is easy—it
sneaks up on you while you’re busy doing life.
A husband and wife connecting as
one is God’s original design for marriage (Genesis 2:24). Jesus reaffirmed this
when the Pharisees tried to trap Him with questions about the lawfulness of
divorce. Jesus replied, “Have you not read … ‘Therefore, a man shall leave his
father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one
flesh?’” (Matthew 19:3-5). God knew two would be better than one. “Hold fast”
to your spouse, even during the busy (and temporary) season of raising
So what are a busy mom and dad
to do? What if you already feel disconnected from your spouse? The following
suggestions can help even the busiest of parents feel closer.
1. Flirt even when you don’t
feel like it.
It’s hard to playfully flirt
with each other when it seems you rarely see your spouse. That’s why it’s all
the more important.
Flirting is something reserved
for your spouse only (if it isn’t, time to do a heart check). It conveys to
your spouse that you remember you are more than just roommates raising tiny
humans. It reminds them you are still attracted to them and helps set the stage
for much-needed physical connection, as well.
2. Check in with each other
If the morning has passed and I
haven’t heard from Josh, I’ll call or send him a quick text. I don’t want to
bother him at work, but I want him to know he’s on my mind. Let your spouse
know you are thinking about them even when they aren’t there. It reminds your
partner they are a priority to you.
Wake early to have coffee
together before the kids are up or schedule a weekly breakfast to map out the
week together so you are on the same page. Make your spouse a priority.
3. Schedule a weekly or monthly
I know weekly is ideal, but I
don’t know many parents who can make that a reality. So if you don’t already
have a scheduled date night, I encourage you to start with one a month. It
doesn’t have to be elaborate, just some kid-free time for you to enjoy each
Dating your spouse reminds you
what you loved about them in the beginning and keeps you connected with the
person they’ve become. And please don’t let money be an issue. If all you can
do is enjoy a meal by candlelight at home after the kids finally fall asleep,
so be it. Enjoy every second.
4. Don’t neglect the bedroom.
Physical oneness in your
marriage is vitally important. So much that Paul addresses the marriage bed in
1 Corinthians: “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a
limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together
again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (7:5).
Physical intimacy doesn’t just keep you connected to your spouse, it safeguards
5. Pray with (and for) each
In Matthew 18, Jesus says, “If
two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by
my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I
among them” (19-20). God is with you and your spouse when you come together to
I know this is easier said than
done. Fourteen years after saying “I do,” and Josh and I still haven’t nailed
down praying regularly outside of mealtimes. We’ll get a groove going and then
life gets in the way again. And the longer the time in between, the more
awkward it feels. But I can honestly say the biggest breakthroughs in our
marriage have come following prayer with my husband.
6. Offer one another lots of
Parenting is hard. It can (and
probably will) cause some disagreements between the two of you. Give your
partner lots of grace. My husband works a crazy, frequently changing schedule.
He needs me to be forgiving and understanding when he has to miss something
occasionally. I need the same when I overschedule our family because it can be
hard for me to say no.
You and your spouse are going to
mess up at times. You’ll slip off track and drift away from each other without
meaning to. Give your relationship some grace, as well.
Don’t worry about checking off
every item in this list. This is not a checklist. Pick one you can do today.
Send your husband a flirty text. Call grandma to watch the kids and pick your
wife up for a last-minute dinner date. It’s not about perfection. No matter how
long it’s been, you still have time to reacquaint yourself with your spouse.