My wife and I are having real difficulty making quality time for each other, even when we manage to set time aside. In the evenings, after the kids go to bed, we are simply exhausted. On our rare date night, we end up dwelling on family concerns and crises in our conversation. How can we better reconnect?
Caroline: You mean, after a mere 14 consecutive hours of dealing with work, children and chores you don’t have any energy left?
Saying this hits us close to home doesn’t do it justice. Since we’ve been experiencing this tension lately, we’ll share with you how we’ve reconnected:
Over a recent long weekend, Tom and I did something we had not done for the last decade of our 15-year marriage: We spent a full day together without our children. Now, a handful of times in the past, we have left town for an overnight trip to the beach or a 24-hour couples retreat. But this time it was two nights, giving us one entire day — sunrise to sunset — alone together.
Tom: So, thanks to Caroline’s parents, we left the children with them and headed to New Orleans for a two-night stay (just a two-hour drive away). We had a wonderful, relaxing time.
Meals in two of the city’s most famous restaurants, combined with a full day’s visit to the National World War II Museum, made for a nice mini-vacation
Caroline: Why hadn’t we ever done this before? For the last 10 years, we’ve always had a nursing baby or an anxious toddler, and have never felt comfortable leaving him or her. Our current youngest, John Paul, is now approaching 3 years old, and was ready for a little more independence.
This time together impressed upon us something we’ve always known to be true: Couples need to make time together to maintain the bond that drew them together in the first place. And they need to make new bonds.
It is so easy to let the pressures and events of everyday life dictate and dominate our relationships, until marriage becomes nothing more than a series of spats and crisis-management meetings concerning the kids, school, finances and so on. Eventually, we can lose sight of the joy of our partnership.
Tom: I had visited the World War II Museum three times since its opening. My dad, a Navy veteran, landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day, so the museum has great importance to me. I have ferried my mother, my sister, and friends over there to share this special experience with them.
Each time, Caroline remained behind, dutifully taking care of the children. It has always bothered me that I had shared this moving experience with everyone except the person closest to me. I wanted to rectify that, finally. By taking her to the museum, I could help her come to know and understand my late father a little better — and by extension, me.
Even after all these years, we can still learn a little more about each other, appreciate each other a little more, and so love each other a little more. By taking a brief respite away from the day-to-day once in a while, we can make our marriage stronger. Give it a try.
The McDonalds are family-life coordinators
for the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.