I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day yesterday. My day was filled with sweet kisses from some pretty cool kids, homemade Valentines, flowers, and fancy shmancy chocolates. When my husband and I started dating he went to great lengths to make Valentine’s Day over the top. One year he snuck us into the basement of the Pharmacology building on our college campus. There he had his roommate (and our future BIL) set up a candle lit dinner with homemade fettuccini alfredo, cheesecake, flowers, music, etc. We sat down to eat and he handed me a beautifully wrapped gift. Inside was a fantastic red dress. Later that week he took me dancing in that red dress. Pretty suave, right?
Here’s a little flash back to our dating days. Specifically, the red dress. (collage circa 2003).
Ten years, 3 kids, 2 cars, and 1 dog and a mortgage later and we are no longer sneaking into buildings and violating fire code laws on Valentine’s Day. Instead we spent last night snuggling on the couch, watching Parks and Recreation, and sampling some of the fanciest chocolates I’ve ever had. It. was. perfect. Sure, the first few years of dating and marriage are exciting and new. You do crazy things in the name of love. But something beautiful happens as you exit that new phase and fall into the next phase of spending you WHOLE life together. It is in this phase that you experience your greatest joys, and sometimes your greatest sorrows and regrets. Rather than a relatively superficial/giddy love, you find a much richer/deeper love. A love that is brought about only by experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly together. It’s not red dress love, but it your favorite sweater kind of love.
Now lest you think I’m comparing my marriage to an old sweater, allow me to explain. It’s the thing that you have that you love more than anything else. It makes you feel good. It makes you look good. It’s reliable and always there. It’s comfortable, yet looks great. All of this is despite seeing its fair share of tears, spit up, and stains. It washes up and looks even better afterward. It’s your ultimate favorite. And although that red dress is beautiful (and, hypothetically speaking of course, an important part of all beginning relationships), if I had to pick something to wear forever it would be my favorite sweater. Hands down.
Clothing analogies aside, I had a difficult time pin pointing exactly what my husband and I do to keep our romance alive. The other day I asked him what I should write and he said, “We eat off each other’s plates” (said as I was snarfing food off of his plate). I read about all these tips: go on a date once a week, kiss each other hello and goodbye, hold hands, talk about your hopes and dreams daily etc. etc. I think these are all very important, but with kids and work and life we are hit or miss on most of these things. So here is a list of things that we are fairly consistent in doing that I think keeps our romance alive.
1. Do hard things. Together. My husband and I are good at this. A month in Washington D.C. with limited resources and our two very young children? Sure! A 14 hour drive with a 6 week old, a potty training toddler, and a preschooler? We’re in! A career that requires intensive training, 16 hour works days, limited sleep, and lots of stress? Absolutely! The point is that we tackle these things together. We jump in with two feet and do our best to support each other. Sometimes it all goes smoothly. Sometimes it doesn’t, but at this point there isn’t much that catches us off guard. I think this helps us prepare for future challenges (not that I’m asking for challenges, but you know they come whether you want them or not). It helps us learn how to work together.
2. Depend on each other. Our first 5 years of marriage were spent living 2,000 miles away from our family. It was the best thing we ever did. We travelled together, we studied together, and we worked together. We learned to depend completely on each other. Despite some very close friends and my aunt who lived 4 hours away, it was just us. No family to lean on or cause excess drama. Just us. It has taught us to be independent as a couple and I feel like we are stronger for it.
**Below is a very small sampling of just a few of our trips together. All were taken while we lived on the east coast. All were trips with just the two of us. All trips invovled eating out of a cooler and sleeping in cheap motels (and/or KOA campgrounds).
Maine, New Jersey, Austria, Niagra Falls. (The Austria picture was taken from our camera hanging from a tree by its strap. One of my favorite pictures for that reason.)
3. Forgive. I like the quote Camille used in her post at the beginning of the week about a great marriage being made up of two great forgivers. I am not perfect. Not even close. My husband isn’t either. If we couldn’t forgive, and I mean really forgive, we would have been over a long time ago. Big stuff and small stuff. Don’t let things fester. Follow the first two steps on this list, talk it out, and then forgive. This process takes two and I feel very fortunate to have a husband who is on board.
4. Just love each other. You might not make it out on a date night every weekend, or have a chance to sit and talk about your day every day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t just love each other. Try to find ways to show or tell each other this. Has your husband been so busy and tired that he has developed a healthy pile of work clothes on the floor of your closet? Don’t nag him about it. Pick them up for him. Because you love him. Is your wife beyond tired due to sick babies and sleepless nights? Understand why she is grumpy and take the kids while she takes a nap. Because you love her. We try to do stuff like this. We aren’t perfect. But we try. Because we love each other.
These are some the things that carry us through the times when that welcome home kiss is skipped due to a screaming kid, or the weekly date night is more of a biannual thing due to nursing babies and my general fear of babysitters.
Like I’ve said, we aren’t perfect, but I don’t think that’s a requirement.
Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you’re here you’ll find something that makes your #momlife easier!