12 Ways to Keep the Love Alive…While Raising Children

Photo by themushblog.com

16 years ago, ‘No Doubt’ and ‘Third Eye Blind’ blared through my car stereo. Any extra money I found was spent on CD’s and snowboarding. Having fun meant skipping college classes when the snow was good so my friends and I could play in the powder. That was the life!

16 years ago, I ditched a date so I could go play. And that same day I saw a very good-looking kid eating chili in a bread bowl in the ski resort’s cafeteria. He was taking a break from the powder at the same time I was. He was the only one snowboarding with his friends and so was I. That screams destiny, doesn’t it?

I introduced myself (not something I did often), and we spent the rest of the day ditching our friends and playing on the slopes together. A lot of ditching going on right? Well, sometimes it’s okay to ditch.

It turns out we really were destined for each other. We instantly became best friends which eventually led to our marriage commitment 4 years later. We never fought, we never once regretted our decision and we never looked back on life wishing we were still single. We were two fiercely independent people who figured a way to merge that independence into a really fun adventure. We traveled all over, moved to Spain for a summer, did the college thing together and worked hard at everything we did.

I remember when we were married, we would repeatedly get advice from others about how we would need to “work” on a marriage in order to make a marriage work. They made marriage sound like a job that required punching a time-card, but never being able to “punch out.” No lunch breaks, no sick days, just work. Marriage was work. I didn’t get it. How was getting to spend the rest of my life with this awesome person like dooming myself to a job that would constantly require work? How do you even work on a marriage, I thought. I just didn’t understand.

After 4 more years of playing and honeymooning, we welcomed our first child.

Oh….I think I know now what they were talking about.

I quit my job. I stayed home all day. My independence had to make a shift to the other side called dependence. Ewwww….I didn’t like that feeling. I think I’d rather run barefoot over a pile of burning coals than have to depend on someone else.

Exit honeymoon, enter adjustment.

Two years after that, our second was born. Between diapers, meals, finances, mortgages, yards, grad school, loneliness and all the other components involved with raising small children I realized that “work” was definitely going to be something needed in order to survive this new selfless yet oddly fulfilling life.

I was still madly and insanely in love with my husband, but hard times would seep through the walls and I wasn’t quite sure how we would deal with them. We weren’t accustomed to punching time cards. Our 7th year got itchy and stressful. And we realized that we would both have to draw on the fun times we had in the past to remind us that we still belonged together.

And you know what? Thank goodness for hard times! As itchy and hard as those few years were, we learned a lot about what was needed to keep the love alive, especially now that we were sharing our hearts with these new little people. I really, truly understood what “work” had to go in to our marriage to make it work. Good news is that working is fun and we saw that not working…wasn’t any fun. I learned valuable lessons that have gotten us better prepared for the long stretch. I know we have a ton of lessons still in the bag to learn, and we’re basically getting started, but hey, it’s been a fun adventure thus far, I think I can handle some more (as long as he does the dishes, takes the garbage out and tells me how beautiful and skinny I am when I’m 8 months pregnant, that is!)

We are close to celebrating our 12th anniversary, so here are 12 things I’ve learned that help to keep the love alive while having kids.

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  • Eat Tikka Masala 1 of 12
    Eat Tikka Masala
    In other words, go on a date! Eat yummy food (we're Tikka people), sit next to each other, gaze, play footsies, whatever, just go out already!
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • You’re Super Sexy Man 2 of 12
    You're Super Sexy Man
    Don't just text your girl friends or your neighbors asking them for an egg, add a shocking text to your man and make him smile and look forward to coming home.
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • Make-Out 3 of 12
    Make-Out
    Gross your kids out and make-out in front of them. Surprisingly enough, showing your affection for each other in front of your kids will boost their trust and security in their family. They should know you love each other!
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • Let Him Golf 4 of 12
    Let Him Golf
    Don't steal his identity by keeping him from the things he loves. But make sure you do the things you love too...
    Photo Credit: themushblog.com
  • Wash His Socks 5 of 12
    Wash His Socks
    I'm still working on this one. Some mornings I wake up to him searching the drawers for a pair of clean, black socks. I start to sweat and wish we had a maid to blame at that moment. A little service like a load of washing goes a long way!
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • Notes 6 of 12
    Notes
    We all like to be told how much we are loved. Keep a marker in the bathroom and write each other notes on the mirror or slip a little paper in his pocket.
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • I’m Sorry 7 of 12
    I'm Sorry
    Even though you are always right, it's okay to say, "Sorry" once in a while to keep the peace.
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • Go Snowboarding 8 of 12
    Go Snowboarding
    Do whatever it is you love to do together, and if there's not something you both like to do together, well, find something!
    Photo Credit: themushblog.com
  • Hold Hands 9 of 12
    Hold Hands
    There's something about holding hands that never gets old. It's the greatest when it's the first time ever and it's just as great after years of marriage. So, hold hands!
    Photo Credit: themushblog.com
  • Welcome Home! 10 of 12
    Welcome Home!
    Now, this photo is a dream for our family lately (me...in an apron...cooking dinner), but ideally when you haven't seen each other all day, it's nice to drop what your doing when they walk in the door and say, "Hello" and a simple, "How was your day" doesn't hurt either.
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress
  • I Want… 11 of 12
    I Want...
    Tell them what you want. I learned this one after years of trial and error. Expectations can be a beast. Doesn't he read my mind and why didn't he do what I expected him to do? I flat out tell my husband now what I want. It makes life a lot easier for both of us.
    Photo Credit: themushblog.com
  • Scratch His Back 12 of 12
    Scratch His Back
    Whatever it is that says, "I love you" for your partner, do it. If he likes his back scratched or gifts, it's a good idea to fill his love tank and tell him to do the same for you too.
    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

 

(DISCLAIMER: Obviously everyone has a different situation, different relationship, etc…and I’m not being general here. These are some of the things that keep us married while we’re deep in the trenches of parenthood.)

 

What do you do to keep the love alive in your relationship?


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