One of my very best friends and I had an interesting talk today at lunch. A little background on her–she’s been married for three difficult years. She got married right when she turned 21 and 4 months later she had her first child. Fast forward three years later, and 3 kids later, she is a completely different person. Before she was married she went out a lot, spent money without a care in the world, and she and her husband were lovebirds–constantly spending time with one another without bickering, just having a good time. But when marriage occurred and when kids were thrown in the mix, everything changed. Now all they do is argue, bicker, and fight. And she even admitted to me(today) that a majority of the time, the fighting is about the kids, and/or money and other adult matters that weren’t an issue before they took the plunge.
To make it even more difficult, she is in school, and working, and he is working. So when she isn’t at school or at work, and when he isn’t, most often they are at home with their children. Financially they are strapped. They just can’t afford to go out. And getting a babysitter is out of the question(they can’t afford that right now either). Having a family member watch the kids could be done, but with three kids finding one nice soul that is willing to watch all three is no easy feat. Needless to say they haven’t went out with each other–without the kids–in a year. Matter of fact the last time they went out, was around this time last year, when they did a double date with me and my boyfriend.
It was on that date that I noticed such a difference in how they interacted with each other. They didn’t fight, they were affectionate, they were smiling and they were having a good time. This is rare to see when it comes to these two, because over these last few years I’ve grown accustomed to the constant arguing and bickering. Anyway during lunch today I pointed this out–as she was complaining about how much she can’t stand him. I asked her when was the last time they made time to be together without the kids? When was the last time they had a date? When was the last time they just “got away” from it all? She couldn’t remember and admitted that she does believe that the “lack” of quality time together alone is negatively effecting her marriage.
I couldn’t offer her any advice. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. And I’m not as financially strapped as she is. But I do know that amongst some of the happiest couples that I’ve seen, the common thread was the ability to make time to spend with each other, without the children, doing things such as date nights or get-a-ways once a year. I also know that with careful planning, a strict budget or going to free events-she could make her marriage that much more better. I’m curious in hearing how “alone” quality time can make a marriage healthy, and most of all how you make time for you “so” without the children involved. How important is it in your marriage? How do you make it a priority? And what benefits do you believe it’s made in terms of your relationship with your so?