Opinion Saturday: Nurturing Relationships (and getting published)

Note: Due to my seeming lack of ability to control the autopost feature on my blog, this post showed up a day early. (Look at the calendar, already, Mary!) But since I am too busy to post anything better (homestudy meeting Friday, parent education meeting Friday evening and all day Saturday) I’m leaving it up and giving y’all an extra day to comment. If you want an update on my day yesterday, you can check out my Ethiopia blog.

Today’s question is about nurturing your relationship. One thing that my hubby and I do sometimes is stay up late and dream together…we talk about what we’d like to do in the future. Some of the dreams are wacky and some are practical, but the time spent talking about our shared future helps us feel more bonded to each other. What makes you and your spouse feel close in the midst of child-rearing?

You have until Wednesday evening to share your secrets. The best answer wins my Golden Keyboard Award.

I’ve been getting such great answers to these questions that I’ve decided to include some of them in the book I am writing. I have already contacted some of you privately to ask permission to use your wise words where they will fit in my book.

Don’t worry– I won’t use one sentence without permission–so please keep participating in Opinion Saturday even if you would rather not be quoted. But if you’ve always wanted to see your writing in a book, keep sharing your wise words with me. If your words fit well in my book, I’ll be contacting you and asking your permission to use them. I am envisioning a contributor page at the back of the book that will list all the names and blog addresses of the writers whose work ends up in the book.

So come on– hit me with your best thought!

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  1. Mary,

    I just discovered your blog and really like it. I have five children, three from birth and two through adoption from Haiti. My best tool in providing time with my spouse is to make it a priority to get the kids in bed early enough to allow us to spend time together before I collapse in exhaustion.

    We also try to keep a sense of humor and laugh with each other. Something about laughing together helps us transcend our roles as parents to the realm where we are friends.

    Great blog! I will be linking to it!

    Blessings,

    Sherri

  2. Like you and your Guy, my Man and I love to use that time late at night right before sleep comes to dream and talk about what we want to do, see and experience in the days to come. But what I enjoy even more than that is to revisit the things we’ve already done, seen and experienced together in our past. It’s been almost 20 years that we’ve loved each other so there’s plenty of memories to chew on. We talk about how we’ve grown, our griefs, our joys, our pain, before kids-after kids, answered prayer-God’s yes’s and even His no’s, and most especially our laughter. We usually end up laughing and crying together and stay up way too late, but to us it’s time well-spent…invaluable actually.

  3. I have to echo laughter—I feel especially close to my husband when we are laughing together. A movie, a joke, something funny our kids said or did…some of the more memorable times in our marriage have included fits of laughter that reduced us to tears. Joy is a decision, and we regularly talk about things that make us joyful.

    Of course there have been times of deep sorrow in our life together, and that too has strengthened our bond. Crying with each other, we’ve curled into each other as we whisper burdens away through prayer. Giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable and raw and emotionally naked with nothing to hide from God or each other has bound us together as well. My husband is my safe place, I am his.

    All those things come together when we set aside time to be alone. For us it doesn’t matter when, just that we make the effort to connect.

  4. Bill and I take off on our bikes and go for a long ride together 2-3 times each week while the kids are at school. We really connect when we are outdoors together exercising.

    We also sit ouside on the back porch each evening while the kids are playing. We scheme and dream over a margarita, the kids entertaining themselves, until the sun sets and it gets too cool or the mosquitos drive us indoors.

  5. Each night after my husband gets home and we eat dinner, we pack up our son in his stroller and take a long, long walk around our neighborhood. We talk about silly things like what kind of trees we want in our yard when we buy a house one day, as well as serious stuff like our hopes and dreams, worries and fears. We stop and smell the roses. We hold hands. These evening walks have become a precious part of our routine. I find myself looking forward to this time ALL day long. And once we’ve done that, I feel like our lives are connected in the midst of this crazy, scrambling world around us.

  6. Pure and simple…we have a tickle fight. A get down, roll around, put yours hand where it makes me giggle tickle fight. It relieves his days of tension from work and my days of homeschooling our special needs sons while keeping various therapist and doctor appointments with the boys. Plus, it inevitably leads to cuddling. 🙂

    Congratulations on the book deal. Can’t wait to read it.

  7. Oops, in that first sentence it should read “your hands” not “yours hand”.

  8. For us in the 22 years of marriage, the keys have been laughter travel, and late night talks. We have always carved out time to travel together – when we were young and poor, we figured out a way to go many many places and stayed in unbelievable dumps, then as the kids came and we grew a bit more financially stable, we have traveled with them to many many places especially places where animals live in the wild: Alaska, National Parks, Hawaii, Galapagos, etc… When we travel we connect very powerfully — maybe because we are far away from our “regular” lives. We share the same love of nature and god’s creatures.
    Laughter has been an incredible “glue” that holds us together. Often we retell stories to each other, over and over again, and over the years we will bring up those stories. We often will have an experience together and then laugh together about it and say, “let’s remember this” and then we do and those stories have given us so many hours of joy and sharing/connecting.
    The late night talks are probably the deepest and most heartfelt times of our marriage. It might happen randomly. We do not “schedule” these talks. Just sometimes, the hopes, dreams, worries and fears come tumbling out, and we can listen and share for a long long time in the comfort of the dark night in our bed just us murmuring dreams and fears and knowing that we will always be there for each other.

  9. I notice that one central theme in the comments above is to connect with your spouse during that coveted time between when your kids go to bed and when you go to bed. My wife and I have a friend visiting with us now that has many more kids than we do, some of them in their teenage years (we have six kids between 5 and 11). After we put our kids down last night we were sitting on the couch connecting and he asked if our house was always this quiet in the evenings. It made me realize that the couch time that my wife and I sometimes share in the evening may soon come to an end when we will no longer be able to outlast our kids.

    So what do people do when they have young teens that stay up later at night and younger kids so you can’t just take off for a walk during the day? What are the natural times in the flow of the day for these couples to have time to connect? Any ideas?

  10. On school nights our teens head off to their bedrooms around 9:30, not long after the younger ones. They don’t have to go to bed–they usually read or play video games–but that gives John and me a little time to ourselves in the busy day.

    Mary

  11. In order to keep our relationship strong, my husband and I put the kids to bed around 7:30 or 8pm and then spend the rest of the evening together. It is our regular alone-time, and we spend it either watching some TV or talking about our future plans. We have big dreams, and love to share them with each other and work out ways to make those dreams a reality. We also try to have a regular date-night, when we drop the kids off with their “Babushka” for a few hours. This alone time is vital to maintaining our relationship as a married couple.

    Another element that helps keep our relationship strong is what we call the “Memory Jar.” About 5 years ago, my husband gave me the memory jar for Valentine’s Day, and it was half-filled with hand-written memories from the years we had already spent together. Ever since, we have been adding memories to that jar. Now that we have the kids, our memories have taken on a new dimension, and when we spend time, picking memories from the jar and reading through them, we can really see how much our relationship has grown and developed over the years. It’s a nice activity that helps us to appreciate where we were, where we are now, and where we might be headed in the future.

  12. Kevin and I get the kids down between 7:30 and 8 pm, and the rest of the night is OURS! It is SUCH a joy at the end of a long day to just be together, watching something funny, just sitting and talking, etc. We also love laying in bed thinking and talking about future plans, dreams, about our thoughts on things, etc. We also love to laugh together. We don’t get many date nights out, but we don’t mind–time together is time together, we don’t have to be doing something fancy!

  13. My husband and try to create a “date night” once a week without every leaving the house. On Saturday nights, after the kids go to bed, we like to grill a special dinner and have a glass of wine. In the winter months, we rent a movie and during the summer months, we sit outside and enjoy some music. This has really help us keep our relationship going.

  14. The joy of having teenagers around when you still have young ones in the house is that you have built in babysitters. We don’t splurge very often, but occassionally we do go to dinner all by our grown-up selves. On one of these date nights, we usually let the kids have some kind of a treat for dinner ( i.e. Chef Boyardee) and then they can watch a movie. Not only is it a good way for my husband and I to reconnect, but it is a great bonding time for the kids.

    We have also found that it is just great fun to go grocery shopping together without little ones on tow. Who knew that running errands together could be a date! And once in a while we have been known to let the kids sleep in and we sneak off to church without them. We usually take up a whole pew, so when the kids aren’t with us it is quite noticable.

  15. We have date night every wk (w/ a date night co-op w/ other friends). That keeps us connected on a wkly basis, which is SO good! Now date nights can (and have been) wasted on running errands w/o the kids (which is a GREAT way to spend time together, but not our opinion of a date b/c I have a hard time doing 2 things at once!!! So there woulnd’t be much conversation if we were trying to “get things done” too!!!) or just hanging out and not being intentional. But Jason has been super intentional lately to make sure we talk about things….like how our heart is doing with the Lord, marriage, parenting, church relationships, our circumstances, our long-term desires. We bring up hard topics and fun topics, but all relating to our heart. We dream together, and we use that time to encourage one another!!! It’s been SO good!!! The other thing is that we “surprise” one another with little phone calls during the day or little notes here and there. The other day I went to see Jason at work (while my “mommy’s helper” was at home with the kiddos…..a mommy’s helper is a common thing in our church where a young girl serves in a home that peaks her interest, it’s been AMAZING!!!). Then, as I was leaving, I remembered his work window was open, so I ran around to blow him another good-bye kiss : ) It blessed him AND me! : ) Then about 5 min later he called me on my cell to see where I was b/c he was going to take his boss’ car (a convertible Miata) to Starbucks to get a coffee for him : ) and wanted to know if I wanted to take a ride with him! ; ) OF COURSE!!!! So, even though I had some things I really needed to do….I knew THIS is what was going to serve my husband most in this moment!! So, our agreement was I’d LOVE to join him if he could stop by the gro store for a few things on the way home! : ) I wouldn’t have traded that ride to Starbucks with him for anything…it was SO romantic ; )

  16. My husband works a lot of hours and during the week (and I mean a lot!) we hardly see him. But each day before he goes off to work, we sit down with the kids and pray. We pray for them, and we pray for one another. And we also pray for our own struggles, so that throughout the day, we can keep each other in prayer and on our hearts for those situations.

    It gets us through. It’s funny because we’ve done this for quite a few years, so much so that our oldest son’s first word was “Amen.”

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