I am one of those lucky women that can say her marriage is thriving, but it wasn’t always this way. I was 16 when my husband and I got together. I was young and head over heels in love, so when he proposed on Christmas Eve just after I turned 17, of course I said yes. A month later, we found out we were having a baby. All I’d ever wanted was to be a mama, and he afforded me that gift. When I was 18, we got married as a family of three. Our son was 8 months old at our wedding.
Through the years, we were “forced to grow up.” We knew what we were doing when we decided to have a baby and get married so young, but what we didn’t realize was the toll it takes on a relationship. Especially a relationship where we didn’t really get to know each other. We knew we loved each other and we were in it for the long haul, but I couldn’t have really told you what his hopes, dreams, and goals were. I don’t think I even really knew mine, except that they included him.
Things go south pretty quickly in any relationship when you aren’t both on the same page. Our marriage went through the trenches for a few years. We came from different backgrounds that didn’t align, we didn’t understand each other’s family, a few years of infertility, and I developed pretty severe postpartum hormone imbalance. I resented the man I once loved so dearly, and I didn’t even know why.
It was in those months of healing and getting my hormones back in balance that I realized I needed to come up with something to bring back the spark that once upon a time wouldn’t dim no matter the trials and tribulations we faced. And it was so clear what I needed to do.
I needed to date my husband.
It sounds weird, right? Date my husband, *eye roll*. Even though our months of dating were short lived, there was so much chemistry there. I knew that if I put in some effort, he would, too. And that is when the magic started to happen.
We listen instead of just hearing the other person. In those first few months, we rarely argued. We didn’t want to upset the other, so we took the time to see the other person’s position and understand where they were coming from. In the years of becoming comfortable, we argued a lot. I wouldn’t admit I was wrong, he was too stubborn to admit I may have a point. It was a vicious cycle of never-ending bickering.
When we date, we look forward to the time spent together. We look for every opportunity to sneak in a kiss or an “I love you.” We bond – we don’t just sit around staring at each other wondering why the other person isn’t talking. We hold hands. We don’t just talk about the kids. We dream together. We set goals together. We laugh. We cry, but we don’t hold onto the circumstances that drove us there.
It’s funny how when I’m grouchy, my husband is grouchy. When I am flirty, he makes me feel special. When I take ownership for my wrongs, he apologizes more often. (We’re working on this one. Blaming the other is always so much easier than taking responsibility.) When I laugh, he laughs. When I thrive, he thrives.
For any relationship to thrive, there has to be intimacy. There has to be a connection.
Wives, I implore you: Date your husband.
Stop making excuses for why you can’t put some time and energy into your husband. God knows I made every excuse in the book. I’m tired. The kids didn’t sleep last night. I have a headache. I have to do the dishes. The laundry needs folded. My body hasn’t bounced back yet. I just want to shower. I can’t leave the kids, they need me.
In the last six months I have found a sitter for my children more than I think I’ve ever left my children prior. Is it easy? Nope, I feel pretty guilty most of the time. But reality is I have to make the time for the man that made me a mama because he needs to know he’s important, too.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss these moments. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to make sure he knows how much he’s loved. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see his smile and know it’s because of you. You don’t want to miss the opportunity for a “Good morning! You’re the best!” text just for slipping a little note in his lunch box. I regret the time I spent making him feel insignificant. Because truth is, he’s the only thing that keeps me going. He’s the sole reason I have survived motherhood. He’s hands down the best thing that I’ve been blessed enough to call mine.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It doesn’t have to cost money. Send the kids to bed and Netflix and chill. Get out an old board game. If you’re really lucky, the grandparents will take the kids for a sleepover. Fold the laundry and do the dishes together in your birthday suits. *wink wink*
Reconnect and remember why you fell in love with him. Remember why that goofy grin melted your heart. Remember why you looked past his poor table manners. Remember why you wanted him and only him.
Date your husband. You won’t regret it. I promise.
Dakota is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a contributing writer, please click here.