Welcome to the next installment of The Ask – a series devoted to taking your questions rooted in Catholic living and providing solid, orthodox advice you can use in your everyday. How does it work? We take questions from you, our readers, and Krista marries the spiritual and practical to give you ways to apply the advice given to help you walk with Christ. Have a question? Email KRISTA to submit your question.
Hi Krista! My husband and I have small children and it’s hard making time for each other. We know it’s important, but it’s a big struggle – not gonna lie! Do you have any ideas for us that would help us connect better?
~ Loving My Husband
Dear Loving My Husband,
What a time to be alive. The little years bring so many unique joys and challenges. All too often it can seem like the challenges outnumber the joys. I love that you and your husband desire to connect more deeply. It’s easy in this season of life to believe the lie that your primary vocation of marriage can be put on hold. I’ve seen the damage and destruction that can cause in a family and your question makes it clear that you are committed to navigating the challenges of this time that get in the way of connecting with your husband.
When they were parenting two small girls, my grandparents had an evening ritual that worked well for them. They taught my mom and aunt early that the first 30-45 minutes after my grandmother got home from work, they were expected to entertain themselves while my grandparents sat down at the table or on the patio with a glass of wine or a cocktail and talked. My mom is about to be a grandmother for the first time and clearly so much has changed about the pace of our culture since she was a girl, but I think a rhythm like that is within reach if we’re willing go against the crowd.
Perhaps start by picking a night this week to sit down after the kids are in bed and take inventory of everything that is taking your time and energy as a family and make some cuts, a “not to do” list if you will, so that you and your husband can have some set time every day or at least every week to connect before you’re not too exhausted from the hustle of everyday living to do anything more than stare blankly at the television while one of you scrolls through facebook on your phone and the other one dozes off, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
I don’t know if you have family close by and if you do whether or not they are a supportive resource for your family. If so, take every advantage of that blessing! As a kid, I spent a significant amount of time with loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends, both near and far. Those experiences gave me memories, confidence and a sense of adventure that I treasure now as an adult.
When those same grandparents I told you about earlier were young parents without family close by, they traded babysitting hours with several other couples. They called it the “babysitter’s club”. On the rare occasion they had a few extra dollars to go on a date, they would cash in a few babysitting hours with one of the other couples in their group. They got a night out, able to rest easy knowing their daughters were in the hands of trusted friends and my mom and aunt built healthy relationships with a community of caring adults and their children.
My husband and I are getting ready to meet our first child in the next couple of weeks, so we are in a different stage of life than you. I won’t even pretend to know what’s going to work for you this week, this month, this year, because I’m not living your life. Anyone but God Himself who positions themselves as an expert on your life should be promptly ignored unless they’re offering to take your children and pay for a long weekend away for you and your husband. That is my prayer for you — an all expenses paid weekend away with free childcare. It’s easy for people to offer “solutions” from the outside looking in, but that suggests that you aren’t smart enough to have considered those same options yourself.
John Gottman recently wrote a book called “Eight Dates” that would be worth checking out. He offers great resources for married couples to continue to grow and improve their relationship. Also, if you haven’t done so already, check out Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Knowing each other’s love languages is so helpful in connecting in a more meaningful way. My husband knows that a clean kitchen, hidden love notes and a foot rub go a long way to make me feel seen and loved and I know that initiating sex, speaking well of him in front of our friends and family and packing his lunches makes him feel respected and appreciated.
The voice that says there is no solution, no extra time or money or energy for you and your husband is the voice of the one who seeks to divide. The Devil hates strong marriages, hates that you want more time with your husband, and he’s going to work hard to convince you that getting that deeper connection is impossible in this season, of how selfish you are for wanting that in the first place, that your marriage can wait. The Devil is lying. Your marriage is your primary vocation. Your children are a miraculous product of your vocation. I heard Fr. John Ricardo say once that children need to know that their parents love each other even more than they need to know that their parents love them. By prioritizing each other, you are giving them an incredible gift.
God has put the desire on your heart to connect deeply with your husband and He will provide the resources and village of people to make that happen. Trust and seek His guidance as you and your husband explore your options for getting the quality time you want and need. Kudos to you for continuing to seek your spouse during these chaotic little years. It matters more than you know.
All Love In Christ,
For inspiration – pulled from CS archives
- Catholic Date Nights on the Cheap
- Enjoying a Staycation
- 19 Shockingly Simple Ways to Live Your Crazy Catholic Life
- The Birth of Cana’s Vineyard, a Catholic Couple’s Group
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About Krista Steele
Krista is a licensed social worker living in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Jeff and their dog, Hank. She believes the best moments in life happen around the table, there's always room for one more book in your Amazon cart/suitcase/purse, and that every load of laundry folded is an hour out of purgatory. You can find her on the trails with her boys, on the couch with a novel, or on her knees in front of the blessed sacrament.