Author: Kristen Turvin
Can I be honest? We weren’t really all that excited for Valentine’s Day this year. When we realized that we weren’t looking forward to it like we normally do, that was a red flag for us. So we started actually planning for it and worked to change our mindset, and you know what? It ended up being one of our best dates ever.
This was us during Valentine's Day. It was a wonderful time filled with romance, delicious food, and SO much laughter! Who knew playing shuffleboard before dinner would be so hilariously fun?! However, in the month leading up to it, there weren't very many days filled with this type of stereotypical romance. We spent January and the beginning of February trading sicknesses back-and-forth. As soon as one of us would get better, the other would go down. Needless to say, romance wasn't exactly our first thought and all we wanted to do was make it through the month.
When we hit the end of January, we were both feeling more like ourselves, but we still weren't prepared (as usual) for Valentine's Day being only two weeks away. (Thank goodness for those commercials to remind us!) I was just grateful that we were both in better health, but I knew that we needed to make sure to put more of an intentional priority on romancing one another. We both have our own ways of prioritizing our marriage. Serving each other through taking care of chores, sending encouraging texts, and reading a devotional at bed together are some of our usual ways of making sure we stay connected. But I realized last month that they had become habits, which is great on one hand and boring on another. Don’t get me wrong, having good, healthy habits in our marriage is such a blessing! However, if I only rely on those same few ways of showing my love to my husband, it is easy for me to lose my intentionality and it can start to lose its “pizzazz”.
So, I started to think about all the couples out there who have had much more difficult and busy seasons of life than we have had and I decided to ask for their advice! Their answers gave us some great, practical ideas of ways to keep those Valentine’s Day feelings all throughout the year, no matter what’s going on. I hope they inspire you to try some new ways to show your spouse love like it inspired me!
“What have you done to keep your marriage a priority during seasons when romance was on the back burner?”
Debby McElroy says, “We go by the ‘always kiss me goodnight’ words painted on our bedroom wall and I fall asleep with my head on his shoulder. We also make sure we check in with each other if it's a stressful or extra busy time, just to make sure we don’t need to talk or take care of each other emotionally or even sexually. Just because we aren’t making romance a priority, doesn’t keep us from making each other a priority.”
We reached out to some ministry supporters for their advice too and got the following great ideas. (Names not given for privacy)
Spend intentional time together
“If I feel distant because of the busyness of life, then we make sure to schedule lunches or coffee dates during the workday. Getting together outside the home helps us focus on one another. If something deeper is going on, I spend more time in prayer about us.”
“How we’ve made our marriage a priority has changed a lot over the years. When we had young kids, we gave the kids an early bedtime so we could spend some time alone. As the kids got older, we looked for interests to pursue together. Sometimes one person enjoyed them a lot more than the other, but it was enough fun playing together that we’d keep going. (I learned to run and he learned to bike). Now that the kids are older, we take weekly dates which is the best thing ever! Oh, and we got a hot tub. Maybe that’s actually the best thing ever. Sometimes, we put our marriage first by not doing things together. For example, we found that we really, really shouldn’t do home improvement projects together. Saving money isn’t worth the fight.”
“When I’ve recognized this is happening… I apologize that my focus has been mostly on other important issues. From there, I mention that we need a date night, either going out or having one at home. This always helps us reconnect and keep our fire burning and reminding each other that we do love each other and value our relationship and quality time together.”
Say it with words
“Sometimes it's just as romantic to get a text during the day or little note left for me somewhere. That makes me feel treasured more than traditionally romantic gestures. (Although I did love my roses and chocolates for Valentine’s Day!)”
“When my accountant husband had to be at work very early and often stay very late, it was hard. I would write encouraging messages on a strip of paper… I would put one in his inside coat pocket and one in his pants pocket. Occasionally, I would put one in his briefcase. If it was a going to be an arrive early-work late week or two, he knew at some point he could reach in his pocket and quickly read the message. After he retired, we were sorting things and found several of them among other items in a box of things that had been in his office desk. I was touched that he had kept them.”
Serve them selflessly
“I love coffee and my husband does everything in his power to meet that need in my life. For over 20 years, he has made a latte for me each morning and brought it to me while I am still in bed. Whenever we travel, if at all possible, we bring our barista machine with us. If that is not possible, wherever we go, he is scouting out the best coffee shops and making a plan for the next morning. A simple cup of coffee shows me my husband loves and cares for me. He told me a long time ago that what he needs to feel loved and appreciated is a drawer full of clean underwear. I am happy to meet that need!”
Marriage first, kids second
“Kids often require that romance takes a back seat. When we’re in those seasons, we keep our marriage a priority by finding delight in our children together! We often see one another in our children and it strengthens our bond because we made these two perfect (perfect might be a stretch) little creatures because of our love for each other. There’s no better turn-on than seeing your husband doing his dad thing! Ultimately, it’s just about being intentional about the time we spend together, even if it’s with kids in tow.”
“While going through medical school with two small children and one on the way, time and energy was a sparse commodity. We found that having a common goal for our lives (daily and long-term) has kept us on the same page. With a common vision, many smaller arguments never came to the forefront because we were focused on the bigger picture.”
“Something we try to do is be super intentional about putting the girls to bed early and spending time together at night. We have shows we like to watch together and we always talk about our day. In a season of busyness, going on a date weekly isn’t logistically or financially possible, so we make it work. Another thing is, once a week I will surprise him with a note and vice versa.”
Go to God
“We have kept our marriage a priority when romance was on the back burner by sacrificing a little extra sleep to get up and pray together for each other and for our children.”
“Sometimes (during) the busyness of life with work or kids, (or) lengthy illness when returned affection wains to almost nothing, I have only one source of sustenance: it's to remember Jesus!!! The Bible says "He" is our greatest example of love. He had many dark hours of hardship, discouragement & rejection, not feeling the warmth of love and affection. Yet, He maintained his COMMITMENT to love us…. When I love my wife in the dark times, it (can) eventually (bring) the richest times of warmth and affection. She is truly a blessing from the Lord.”
Which of these great ideas will you start trying out in your own marriage? Let us know in the comments on this Facebook post!