When we were married, we were told it is our job to sort through the advice and choose what is best for us. Our families took that to heart and still often says things like "I know we are not supposed to give you advice, but ..." We have to remind them that we like advice! We embrace advice! We just have to decide what works best for our little family, and that goes for everyone.
Here's the best advice we have heard, read and applied in our five years together that I know have helped make the time sweetly glide.
1. Men need three things
Before we got married, a good friend of the family gave me HER favorite advice and it stuck. From Dr. Laura's book The Care and Feeding of Husbands, she told me men need three things: food, physical intimacy and a girlfriend. In other words, their needs are not usually as complicated (some are, but that's another post). I made sure to remember the first two often, but the "girlfriend" part is important. While you can and will be "the mom" of the house, no man wants to be married to his mom, so don't be one to him. This thought has stopped me multiple times from turning into that naggy mom that I can be to my 3-year-old all day, and causes me to see him as my boyfriend, my partner, who needs attention from me as his friend, and no one else.
2. Pray together every day
When we got home from our honeymoon and we were settling in for the night, we climbed into bed and my sweet husband went straight to his knees. He asked if I would pray with him. That's the man I married. Lord first, us second, everything else comes after. We rarely sleep without praying together, and that alone has been such a strength for both of us through times that have been difficult.
3. A love note board
The first year we were married, we lived at my husband's grandpa's house. He needed a house sitter and we needed a place to stay. It was cheap, full of their things and we didn't care one bit. Love notes were all over the house - hiding in cupboards, on the bathroom mirrors - there was a lot of love there and it was obvious. I was getting to know his family through the love they literally left behind. I found a little magnet white board at target and brought it home and wrote a love note on it for him to find, and the next morning, he had changed it to put his own love note. We still use the same little white board to help build each other up. Sometimes he will put a scripture, sometimes it's a "thank you for …" and sometimes it's a "good luck drinking all that water!"
It's true. Women, especially those who are in full custody of your children most of the hours of the day, are tired, disheveled and down on themselves about something. I generally like myself, but I am always wishing I had more time. More time to spend with my kids, more time to spend with kids AND clean my house - there is always something. When my husband helps out, it makes me crazy in love with him.
5. The 15-second kiss
This one we just started recently and it might even be my favorite. We read this sweet article on a marriage blog and I loved the idea of reconnecting daily. There are days when we come home, and when we finally flop on the couch after the kids go down we realize we haven't even said "hi" yet! After I told him about the 15-second kiss, he grabbed me and kissed me for a good 15 seconds. It was sweet, not intended for anything other than that, but it does cause a reconnect. The whirlwind of the day comes to a halt and the phones get set aside, the TV stays off longer and we remember what's important in this crazy life. Try it. So easy to do and brings us back home every time.
6. Give each other "me time."
Everyone, regardless of what it looks like, needs down time. In my husband's case, I know he needs time every night to do nothing but sit and watch a show. It's his favorite part of the day, the power-down. It's what he needs to de-stress and to relax. Not all men are created equal of course, some men need to get out of the house, some need the other guys, but they need their "time," whatever that is for them.
7. Speak kind words
We were friends with a couple that whenever he turned his back, she was saying awful things about him. It was super awkward for us and made us wonder how that worked for them. He was constantly saying how amazing she was: gorgeous, talented and such a hard worker. She was always telling us what he can't do, what he doesn't do for her - it was heartbreaking. I love hearing from my husband's co-workers what they have "heard about me." It's proof he speaks well of me and reminds me to do the same.
8. Brag don't rag
Without fail, every time we have a girls' night and the girls and I are up laughing about who knows what it always comes back to "men always …" or "mine does that too!" We laugh a bit about the silly things they say or do, but in reality, mine doesn't. My husband has never once said the words, "Gosh, I wish you could actually clean the house!" and he's never once said, "So what did you do all day?" He respects my role here at home and my efforts to bring in extra bacon. And he knows it's hard. He knows that it is nearly impossible to do it all and chooses to come home and help rather than say anything negative. Smart choice, by the way. Whenever he begins a thought with "Can I just say something …?" I am always bracing myself, sure it will be the time he tells me to get my act together but it is ALWAYS to tell me how great of a mom he thinks I am. When he treats me like a 10, I feel like one. And it makes me try harder at all those things.
Now, more than ever, we are learning this is vital. A planned outing, actually without kids, and some time not just to talk about kids, is necessary. Necessary because remember #1? He needs a girlfriend. He doesn't have a girlfriend if you're not dating! So get a sitter if you have to, call and ask him out, but go on a real, "I have a plan and I know where I am going to take you tonight" date. We often just take the kids and deal with it and we still have fun, but we are setting a goal of at least two "real" dates a month to have "just us" time, and it helps so much!
What works for you? Any more secret tips/advice you love?
Editor's note: This article was published on Meg Clifford's blog, Color Me Meg. It has been modified and republished here with permission.