The best marriage advice given to me...

Posted by  | Thursday, February 16, 2012  at 8:03 PM  
While a lot of people struggle the first year of marriage, Mark and I found that having children placed a lot more stress on our marriage than the craziness of our first few years together. I had been waiting my whole life to have a husband to love and serve and joyfully accepted the challenges that marriage threw my way. We were blessed to have a relatively easy and happy first year of marriage. However, once I had a baby, things changed. He was no longer the only person I was taking care of and it just wasn't the same. I was too exhausted to want to fix him a late night snack (with all the accompanying dishes) or attend his evening basketball game and hang out at a restaurant afterwards, or give him a massage at any hour of the night, or all those other fun things we did together when we were first married. We were both excited about the baby and he took it well and was a great help and never complained, but things were definitely not the same. And that is ok; there is no doubt in my mind that our precious children are worth it! But it just means that we have to work a lot harder on our marriage now than we did back then when it was just us.

So honestly, the best marriage advice I ever received actually sounds a lot like parenting advice because the two definitely go hand in hand: give the children an early bedtime! On a normal night, we try to have all the kids in bed by 7:00 so that we can have a good three hours to get ourselves organized for the next day and hang out together -- plenty of time to watch a movie together or have a date night or just chat on the couch. Usually Mark gets home sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 and we eat dinner together. Then the girls pick out a game to play with Daddy for about 20-30 minutes and then we start our bedtime routine of potty-time, pajamas, singing, Bible stories, memorizing Scripture, and prayers. And off they go to bed around 7:00. It may sound like they don't get to see him that long at night, but it is very focused, personal, quality time together -- he is not distracted by the TV, computer, cell phone, or anything else and they receive his full attention. They also get to play with him again in the morning between 8 and 9:30 before he goes to work. And he usually spends his day off with them, running my errands, taking them to story time at the library, and playing outside with them. But the evenings are for us to enjoy together.

Lest you think we are being too selfish, let me assure you that my girls actually normally sleep from 7pm to at least 7:30am and truly seem to need it. We definitely observe more grumpiness and meltdowns on the days following nights that we allow them to stay up late for one reason or another (grandparents visiting, social activity, etc). They also thrive on a routine and look forward to their Daddy playtime each evening and enjoy our bedtime ritual. On nights when we are out and about before bedtime and don't have time to do our entire routine, it is much harder to get them to bed without fussing and meltdowns. But if we stick to our routine, there is rarely a difficult evening.

Now I know that an early bedtime might not work for different families with vastly different work schedules, but my point is really to just make sure that you carve out some regular time with your spouse each day. The advice given to me was to give the children an early bedtime and it has really worked well for our family. But maybe instead of putting the kids to bed early and hanging out you might need to get up a little before them in the morning to have time together or plan regular lunch dates if your kids are up early for school. Feel free to comment and share about how you make time with your husband after having kids!



5 comments:

Rachael Davis said...

I could not agree more!!! Love that early bedtime and those few night hours. :)

Tamara said...

Totally agree with you on this! We implemented a 7pm bedtime when we had our first 8 years ago...and the routine is still the same now that we have 4 with one on the way! They all know that they get some daddy playtime when he gets home in the evening, and then they get ready for bed and are down by 7 or shortly after. This allows my hubby and I to have time to hang out every evening, which I think is so important and we both cherish that time to just be together without interruption.

Dustin, Jessa, Paxton said...

This post is SO TIMELY!!! We had our first 6 months ago and have struggled with husband/wife time. Everything that I was reading was EXACTLY how we feel. THe first years of marriage was easy! Now with a child, the time together is a lot more few and far between. Thanks for the thoughts and your post. This is the same advise that my sister has given us. By the way I am a follower of your blog via a teacher friend. Thanks for being a blessing to others! May the Lord continue to guide your paths as you trust in him in with the unknown!!!

Paige said...

My girls (2&1) have always gone to bed by 7 as well with a similar routine. However, my 2 1/2 yr old is now staying awake in bed for up to two hours after we put her down. Its new for us that she is doing this. She'll knock on the wall, talk out loud, or play. Sometimes she has gotten up to walk around the house. Has anyone else had their toddler abruptly change the sleep routine that they've had since they started to sleep all night? I wonder if she still needs her nap ( don't want to lose that) or if she needs to stay up a little later. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Meg said...

Paige, none of my girls have done that, but I do have a friend who dropped the afternoon nap at 2.5 to help her child go to sleep earlier. Perhaps some children need less sleep? My older two girls (3 and almost 5) do not always sleep at naptime, but they have to stay in their room for a 2 hour quiet time. I allow them to read books or listen to books on CD and even get out of their bed and play quietly together for the last part of it if they have not fallen asleep. But they definitely need the downtime or they are cranky :) Or maybe your daughter is a little wound up at bedtime and letting her read quietly to herself for a little while after you say good-night would help settle her down more quickly. I don't really know, but those are my initial thoughts :) Good luck and if you find a plan that helps, please let us know so we can learn from you!

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