Marriage: An Update

Over the past week or so, Chris and I have continued to talk openly about our marriage and the rut we seem to have found ourselves in. So many people have suggested that we have more date nights and more time with just each other. We’ve talked about that, but in all honesty, we get time alone a lot. Our kids go to bed at 7:30 every night, which leaves Chris and I alone most evenings. And my mom takes the kids at least one weekend a month, so we get chunks of time together that way. What we have started to realize is that it’s not the alone time that’s the problem. It’s what we choose to do with our time – both when we are together and when we are as a family.

When you have two little kids – like, younger than Bean and Gracie. You really are tied to the home. And we got into that habit. We didn’t go out on weeknights because our kids were tired after long days at daycare. We tried not to go too much on the weekends because the kids needed some down time after a long week at school. And we were limited as to what they could get out and do when we did have the time to go do something. As much as no one wants to say it, little kids are limiting.

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But our kids are getting bigger. They are able to go and do more now. They have awesome schedules and routines, but they are at a point where we can be a little flexible with their routine every now and then and it won’t send them into a tailspin of abnormality. The thing is, we just haven’t changed our lifestyle as our family has grown. We still largely live like we have babies in our house. And it’s a good thing that babies aren’t babies for much over a year because a year of the same routine and schedule will drive even the healthiest of married couples to the brink.

When we discovered this, it actually took some of the worry about our marriage off our shoulders. Maybe this wasn’t so much about us not knowing how to interact anymore. Maybe this was more about the fact that we both needed different interactions now. Chris said it the best the other night when we were chatting after the kids had gone to bed.

“We’ve been together half our lives,” he said. “But I think we’re at the point where the things that used to entertain us in the early years of our relationship don’t really entertain us anymore. We’re bored with dinners and wine and cuddling on the couch. And I think that’s okay. I think we’re just ready to start doing some more fun things together. Things we’ve never done before.”

We went on to talk about how we need to make more of an effort to get out and try new things, not just with the two of us, but with our kids, too. We certainly are on the go a lot, but it’s mostly going to the same old places every week. And if that’s getting boring for me and Chris, I’m sure our kids probably feel the same way. We all need to break up the monotony a bit. And so, we began to pray for experiences and adventures to present themselves to us. If God would just open some doors, we would make the effort and walk through them.

A few days later, Chris saw an ad for Sesame Street Live that was coming to our area. Perfect! Something new and fun for us to do as a family! We looked into tickets, though, and they were out of our price range. Maybe we could just go on a picnic instead… The very next day, I got a Facebook message from a woman I used to teach with. She said she had won four tickets to the Sesame Street Live event – in VIP seating, no less! – and her grandkids didn’t want to go, so did I want the tickets?

Ask and you shall receive, friends!

While we are super excited about the Sesame Street event, we are also trying to change up our day to day routines, too. Chris is trying to get home a little earlier in the afternoons, and it makes such a difference. We get a whole hour extra to do the dinner/bath/bedtime rush, and we even have time left over to enjoy each other. Tonight, we even took a WALK! As a FAMILY! Before DINNER!

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These aren’t the only changes we are working on, but it’s a start. Recognizing that we can be bored without it meaning we are bored with each other has been a huge weight lifted from both our chests. And focusing on new experiences as a couple and a family has been a lot of fun, actually.

Time and again, I am learning that problems seem so much greater when you keep them hidden or unspoken. When you air everything out, put it all on the table, and then start to deal with it, the problem may not seem necessarily smaller right away, but it definitely seems fixable. And fixable is always good when you’re talking about your marriage.

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21 thoughts on “Marriage: An Update

  1. Jenn

    Sometimes the big problems seem so big because you feel you are the only married couple that has ever gone through them. It’s nice to hear relationships that are having problems and how they work through them. Marriages have to grow up just like we do.

  2. I agree with Jenn — it’s too bad you (Katie) don’t have someone showing you all of the different facets and highs and lows of marriage like you do for the rest of us. Thank you, as always, for providing that service for the rest of us 🙂

  3. Sounds like you guys are making good progress! Keep working and find what works for your family. And how cool that you get to go to Seasame Street as a VIP! Have fun!

  4. Carlene

    Something my husband and I err talking about the other day made me think of your last few posts. My husband and I have only been married 3 years and have no kids, but sometimes we get bored. We run out of things to talk about. We can go out to eat and drink wine any night of the week but it doesn’t help kick things up if we have nothing to talk about. We went on a two week vacation this summer and after a week, we were bored of each other. Because everythiing we could talk about was redundant.

    The other day we talked about the importance of bringing in new topics. We both read a lot of online and magazine articles, he listens to NPR, I read a lot of books. These things keep our time together lively and fresh because they add to our conversations. Yesterday a short article on kids using iPads turned into an hour discussion where we learned a lot about each other, and made us feel closer. This works for us, I hope it’s helpful for you!

  5. Carlene

    Also, I have a friend that swears by TAble Topics for family time: http://www.amazon.com/TableTopics-TT-0102-D-Family/dp/B000FFET52

  6. We just celebrated our 29th anniversary. Believe you me it is a strange journey. Some years have been fabulous and some years a bit blah. It is worth the effort though. I remember those years of babies and always hanging out at home after work and weekends. We had three kids so it seemed to last quite a while. We did have to adjust after they got a little older! Now we wonder what we did on vacation before they were old enough to drink! 🙂
    Keep going….

  7. There are some good concerts coming to Orlando in December for you and Chris. Pretty cheap too. Plus, there are plenty of football and basketball games. As for kid-friendly, there are beaches, water parks, springs..lots of interesting nature to explore in this city.

  8. Hiking together has definitely been our saving grace. I still find myself thinking once in a while “we have been married almost ten years! When does this get easier!” Ha! Still learning 🙂

  9. Katie

    My family is in a similar place to yours… two young kids, trying to find balance… you know the game. Anyway, my husband and I have found an awesome way to stay connected: rock climbing! I know that’s not your normal Friday night out-I’ve read your blog long enough to see that, but you said that you were looking for something new and different.

    Here’s why it’s an awesome activity for married couples: 1. It’s a partner activity. One person is directly responsible for the safety of the other. This means that you have to communicate the entire time. And you can’t talk about the kids the entire time either. 2. It’s pretty cheap. We bought the basic gear and can now go to a gym for $8 per person on bogo night. 3. It’s soooo much fun. Once you get comfortable on the ropes (and understand that you are NOT going to fall and hit the floor), you can really challenge yourself and feel good about what you can do. 4. It’s easy to start. If you can climb a ladder, you can climb at a gym. For real! I can’t do pull ups or anything but I can climb with ease. 5. It’s an awesome work out.

    So now that you think I’m totally crazy and we have nothing in common… try it anyway. And then blog about it. Indoor gyms are great for newbies and the staff makes sure you stay safe.

  10. HeatherM

    Your kids go to bed at 7:30. You can have a sitter for that time on, and go out and do stuff. Find a friend and trade off- I’ll watch your kids after bedtime one night this week if you do the same for me next week. Go to movies in the park, plan a home improvement project together, or just go meet up with friends for a bit. Some of our favorite grown up dates involve going to the library together. We also go on food obsession kicks together- we experiment with making unique ice creams or bread flavors. I’ve also found that when i give Nate time to go build stuff in his wood shop, it puts him in a great mood (and sometimes he even builds me things- like projects from Ana White’s blog!). Sesame Street is great to mix things up with the kids, but it sounds like you need to mix things up most with Chris. Have fun with the adventures you guys are about to take!

  11. Lissa

    We are in the same boat. However, you’ve caught it and stopped it in its tracks a bit sooner before my husband and i caught on. For us, it got even worse since we were both so tired and caught up in day to day life, and now trying to dig out is tough. We started by leaving the tv off. We were so used to just putting that on and then we never talked. We’re making a conscious effort to really say what’s on our minds instead of stewing on them. And we’re prioritizing time for each other. Fun date night are hard to think up though after all these years – I agree, the dinner and wine is just okay right now, BTDT. My next thoughts are to start a new hobby together – that rock climbing sounds fun!

  12. Liz McC.

    We have two small kids too, and have recently discovered that not only do we need to have date nights, but we also need separate time to rediscover ourselves. So on Wednesdays I take a dance class and he takes a martial arts class. And the babysitter puts the kids to bed, so no one feels like they get stuck while the other has fun. (That’s very important.) And with us doing our own individual things, we have more to discuss! And I agree with another commenter- Sesame Street sounds fun, but that’s a one time thing. The nice thing about a weekly event is that it keeps going!

  13. THIS. This is so my husband and me right now. Aubrey is 2, and we feel so trapped by her routine on weekends. We need to do more fun things as a family and as a couple, but it’s so hard with the limits having small kids puts on you. I love that you guys are making that effort, and you have no idea how much of a relief it is to hear that I’m not alone.

  14. I think that it is so amazing that you are so open and honest about your marriage, even when it is something that you are currently working to figure out. This post was such a great example about how marriage is always a balance and a work in progress. Great post!

  15. Meghan

    I read a scientific study a while back that completely relates to what you are describing. I wish I could remember what book I read it in, but the gist of the findings were that new, shared experiences strengthen relationships. You get an adrenaline rush from doing something new, and when you share that rush with someone, it also strengthens your bond. I don’t think it has to be crazy things, but just the fact that you are doing something new or out-of-the-ordinary *together*. I filed it away years ago, and I have definitely noticed that it holds true in my marriage……not only do you have fun doing the activity, you have fun reliving it together later (sometimes years later). You’re on the right track, I think………good luck. 🙂

  16. Mai

    Marriage without problem is abnormal. It makes us to grow as individual and as a couple. Happy for you that you have so many along time with your spouse. I wish my parents lives closer to us too!

  17. Becky

    Thank you for sharing your life. Your generosity of spirit seems without bounds and is greatly appreciated.

    I find my marriage currently going through some very similar growing pains; and…as often happens when I read your blog… your perspective has given me some clarity, some new ideas, and as always, hope and smiles.

    Thank you again. 🙂 <3

    Happy weekend

  18. Not trying to hijack your site. Just wanted to throw in my two cents worth. All the advice above seems great. The root may be the issue, not the fruit.
    I write to men who don’t understand what it takes to save a marriage. It’s extreme, but it works. My story is brutal. We went through things no couple should go through, but we survived. We are happier and stronger now than we were 25 years ago. I dare the guys to read my stuff. I hope you guys get through this like champs.
    http://erikmatlock.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/better-than-yesterday/

  19. […] the past month, Chris and I have consciously worked hard to add some excitement and adventure to our marriage and to our family.  We have looked beyond the […]

  20. […] another victory up for new family adventures! Who […]

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