When my husband and I got married in 2013, we had been dating for 5 years, and we were living in a city where we knew very few people. In the beginning, quality time together wasn’t difficult. We weren’t very connected to our community and had few commitments outside of work. Plus, we were so excited to be married we just wanted to be with each other! So, most days meant working and then spending time together!
Only two months shy of our first anniversary, we moved to this quaint little town of Lexington, VA (Boy, do we love you!) Life changed drastically. Suddenly, we found ourselves with shorter commutes, a smaller, but tight-knit community, and lots of opportunities to connect with awesome people and fun things to do! We jumped in full swing in Lexington, and suddenly found ourselves very busy and had little room for quality time.
It wasn’t long before we realized that going out every night with friends, either together or separately, wasn’t sustainable for our marriage. My introverted husband was tired from all the social activity, and though I’m an extrovert, I was missing quiet time with just Tim. We started making some changes to our weekly schedule and how we spend time together (read: fewer commitments and less screen time). These small changes made the world of difference then and still help us keep healthy boundaries now.
One of the first changes we made was setting boundaries for when we use our phones. Tim gets home at 5 pm and usually isn’t on his phone during the day, so it was unrealistic to expect that we wouldn’t be on our phones at all at home. We agreed on a 7 pm “bedtime” for our phones. This way, he has time to check up on his baseball scores, Instagram, or read an article he came across. It also helped me break the habit of mindlessly searching Instagram or Pinterest while we were together watching TV or sitting on the porch.
As I mentioned above, one of the things that really caught up with us was having something to do each night of the week. It gave our life little margin and often it’s in the margin, that real, genuine life happens. We found that when we didn’t have commitments we were able to have real conversation and reconnect, even if all we were doing was making dinner together. Life can move fast and there are lot of things you can’t drop. But when you can, set aside one or two nights a week where you don’t have a commitment.
This doesn’t mean your alarm has to go off at the same time, though if it can, that’s great too. We just have found that having some time together in the morning is such an encouraging way to start the day. My husband works in food service and there was a period of time in our marriage where he only worked mornings, which meant 5:00 am wake up calls and half awake goodbye kisses for me.
At some point, I decided I’d start waking up with him at 5:00 and do my workouts then, rather than in the afternoon. I mean, I was being woken up anyway, right? So began our morning journey. Since then, we make sure we have a few minutes together each morning. Usually, he’s eating breakfast while I’m making coffee and then we sit down together for 1o minutes or so. Our conversation is never lengthy or insightful, but there’s comfort in knowing that first person you look in the eye in the morning is your husband.
Tim and I naturally have always gone to bed at the same time. Neither of us are night owls really, so this was easy. For a long time, I actually thought that most couples did this. As more of our friends got married, I quickly learned that wasn’t the case. Even if one person isn’t quite ready for sleep, we still head upstairs together to read. We find that going to bed at the same time makes room for more conversation, and conversation fosters depth and unity. Sometimes, its sharing more about our day as we remember specific events or anecdotes. Other times, it’s talking about house renovations or travel dreams as we brush our teeth. All in all, when we go to bed together we feel more connected and unified.
For some people, this is really hard. It can feel like you’re losing freedom or even individuality. You may worry about what other people think, “Wow, his wife runs his life. “or “She doesn’t have any freedom. ” However, it isn’t a matter of control, it’s a matter of respect and clear communication. When you check with your spouse first, you’re showing your spouse and others, that they are the most important relationship. That honoring them with your time is valuable.
Not the couch. Not in the car. And chips and salsa don’t count as dinner. There’s a place for those things every once in awhile, but not every night. Having a real meal together at the table, without distraction is huge. All the distractions go away and you can focus, maybe to have a meaningful conversation and maybe to just talk about the food. Either way, it’s totally worthwhile and has been a complete game changer in our house.
I feel like in newlywed life this one gets shafted, a lot. We have it in our heads that because we live together and it’s only the two of us, that date night is every night. However, that simply isn’t true. Date night helps us step away from the everyday. It pulls us out of the mundane and helps us bond by having shared experiences. Make a commitment to have a true date on a regular basis. This could be once a week, every two weeks, or once a month. But, whatever you can do, do it and commit to it!
Ya’ll we would love to hear your thoughts! Which tips are you going to try to implement this summer? What do you already do that’s working? Comment below!
With love and joy,