My husband and I are celebrating 7 years of marriage this month. 7 years feel like a good number and we have accomplished a lot since that beautiful day in 2008. We both graduated from college. I went to grad school. My husband switched careers. We had 3 daughters. I quit teaching to stay home with my girls. We moved 5 times, bought a house, a minivan, and a bunch of laying hens.
By the grace of God, our marriage is stronger than ever. Sure, we have our disagreements and things every once in awhile, but we're in a really good place. It's not that we're lucky, it's because we work at it. Marriage is a priority and we've found so many ways to connect even though life with three kids is pretty insane.
1. Don't bad-mouth your spouse. I know it's easy to complain and whine to your girlfriends about your "idiot husband," especially when that's a frequent topic in the breakroom, but you just can't do it. If you are having an issue with your spouse, talk to him directly. Not your mom. Not your coworkers. You've got to work it out with him. Otherwise, all of that anger and frustration builds up and separates you from him.
2. Do life together. This may seem fairly obvious, but marriage works best when both partners are equally involved in each other's life. If you do your own thing the majority of the time, you're no more than roommates. I'm not saying you have to be attached at the hip 24/7, but you've got to share the load. (Chores, kids, the whole lot of it.)
3. Get a babysitter. I know, I know. Babysitters are expensive. Especially when you have 3 kids. But seriously, it's so important. My husband and I finally started a babysitting swap with some of our best friends. Every couple of weeks, they watch our kids and we go out to dinner, and then we swap the following week. It's good for our kids and it's great for us. We have a chance to connect, to eat a meal, to have an uninterrupted conversation. (A rarity these days!)
4. Put the phone down. It's easy to lay down and scroll through your phone at the end of a long day, I know. But the end of the day is often the only time you have to connect with your spouse. Put the phones down and talk. Whether it's 10 minutes or an hour, you have to have one-on-one time with each other. My husband and I often lay in bed and talk until we fall asleep. Sometimes we put our favorite comedian on Pandora and listen and laugh, snuggled up together. Whatever your "thing" is, do it. The phone can wait until the morning.
5. Get creative. Once you've been married for so many years, and especially after having kids, you get into a groove. I get it. But you can't let that normalcy turn stagnant. Surprise each other. Do things out of the ordinary. Give heartfelt gifts. Send thoughtful emails or texts throughout the day. Celebrate big and small things. Most of all, remember your commitment to each other and make sure it remains strong.