My husband and I have a new tradition called “sweet o’clock.” We plan out the evening ahead of time, and I make a homemade treat, one of our favorites being a new flavor of homemade ice cream. As soon as the kids go to bed, we smile and head to the kitchen.
On tough days (we are currently living through the “terrific twos” with twins), we will hint at our little secret and delicious rendezvous throughout the day. “Sweet o’clock night,” I will whisper as the kids are screaming from their high chairs or doing superhuman squirms to get out of changing their pull-up. I might be ready to pull out my own hair, or have one of those bathroom-cry moments that only mommas know about, but the thought of having this time to exhale—and enjoy intimacy with my husband—gives me a bit of peace and comfort.
Marriage Is Different When You Have Kids
As parents to young toddlers, we’ve had to get creative. The date nights that were too infrequent when the twins were babies are now almost non-existent as we trudge along doing the “the grind” as my husband calls it, as if our family was in an old-fashioned coffee grinder. We wake up, do the routines (almost robotically on the tough days): breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, bath and bedtime—then repeat, repeat, repeat. Lots of snacks for the bobbling kiddos, lots of deep breaths for me.
Having kids—or so I thought—would never put a strain on my marriage like some couples in public spaces I’d shuddered at over the years.
The dad would be balding, with circles under his eyes and a bit too much cushion around his middle, and the mom would be frazzled in her old, milk-stained college sweatshirt and wearing sneakers for comfort. They’d drive off in their minivan before talking tersely to each other during the grand loading of the many children who were either crying or asking for snacks or throwing their shoes or hitting each other. I was never going to be like that. We were never going to be like that. And a minivan? No way. SUV all the way, baby.
Now I Understand Why Happy Couples Struggle When They Have Kids
Today, my perspective has changed. Now I have insider knowledge of why happy couples and families have moments like this—I get it. Raising kids is exhausting. Most days I give everything I have to care for two tiny human beings. I want to make sure they grow up to be decent human beings with good manners and also, in the short-term, I want to make sure they don’t hurt themselves as they toddle like bumper cars around our house or yard. By the end of the day, I am more than tired. It’s a whole other level of exhaustion. My husband and I sometimes joke about how we thought we knew what tired was back in our single days.
If parenting is so tough for married couples, why do we do it? Why do we do it when it can age us prematurely and cause excessive snarkiness and make us buy silver minivans? Why do we have kids when our going-out-on-the-town clothes get musty in the closet, and our mom uniform becomes rotating yoga pants and men’s t-shirts? Why do we do it when all of a sudden brunch with our single, cool, childless friends becomes so awkward? And don’t even get me started on what happens in the bedroom!
If It’s So Tough to Be Parents, Then Why Do We Do It?
Why do we do it? Because it’s incredible. Love in marriage is a magical thing that sometimes needs to multiply to love even more. There is purpose and power in this life that God has created me for and called me to live. Motherhood is an honor, and while my children get the most from me (most days), and this is okay, I’ve learned that I also need to be very intentional about creating time and space for my husband, too.
Especially as a twin mom, or a mother of multiples, my affections are spread so thin across so many little humans at the same stage of life. So, “sweet o’clock” is something that my husband and I have created to carve out a little time and space to just be together.
While my children get the most from me (most days), and this is okay, I’ve learned that I also need to be very intentional about creating time and space for my husband, too.
Here are 4 more ways that I’ve been building connection and intimacy with my husband (that have fewer calories):
1. Find a project to do with your man.
Doing something around the house or yard together can actually be fun! Our most recent project will be digging a trench alongside our home to help with water drainage—thanks for the tutorial, YouTube!
2. Learn something new together.
Research and find something new that you’ve both wanted to try, whether that’s something like a board or video game or maybe something with a little more investment, like scuba diving. My husband and I started playing chess together, and he’s teaching me some tricks so that one fine day I will crush him.
We try to go for day dates and do active things like hiking. We also try to go for a walk nearly every night together when we can talk about the day and about things that don’t involve diapers, lines from kids’ movies, or anything else child-related—even when we have to push the strollers.
4. Figure out the best time of day to be intimate.
My husband and I have discovered that usually the nighttime is not good for our super, sweet intimate time. Then when is? The afternoon!
Find what time works for you both, close the blinds, put on a little Marvin Gaye or whatever your jam is, and try another version of “sweet o’clock.”
I Remind Myself Why It’s All Worth It
The reason that I am a mother is because my husband loved me first and loved me so much that I literally became three people for about nine months (this was intense). I remember why I married this man every day when I see him playing or reading with the kids, disciplining them, or just having fun. We may be tired and snarky sometimes, he may have lost all of his hair, and I may have grown a couple pant sizes, but it’s all been worth it.
Over the past couple years and since we bought our own minivan, I’ve realized how important it is to prioritize intimacy with my husband. Not only does this help keep my marriage strong, it helps to give me the strength to be the best version of myself as a wife and mother every day.
For more tips on keeping that spark strong, we recommend these articles on marriage.
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