One of the most common pieces of marriage advice is that you must make time for each other. We read about the importance of “couple time” in self-help books and magazine articles. We listen to seasoned married couples tell us how important it is to make time for each other. And we hear talk show hosts and self-prescribed experts tell us that we can’t let parenthood take priority over marriage.
This is all well and good, but what these books and experts don’t always say is that the definition of “making time for your marriage” changes as a marriage evolves. Making time for marriage used to mean weeklong vacations, regular date nights, and Sunday mornings in bed. But as a marriage progresses—and especially after kids enter the picture—“making time” takes on a whole new meaning. Making time for marriage requires flexibility, patience, and a whole lot of creativity.
Making time for your marriage means a long hug or a quick butt squeeze in the kitchen.
Making time for your marriage means emailing and texting 50 times a day about things like grocery lists and soccer practice and your mother-in-law’s birthday because it means more time to actually talk when you’re together.
Making time for your marriage means laughing at the first 10 minutes of Saturday Night Live together before one (or both) of you falls asleep on the couch.
Making time for your marriage means trying eight times to finish a sentence, interrupted with a “Daddy, guess what?!” each time, and then finally giving up with a sigh and a smile, because whatever you were going to say can wait.
Making time for your marriage means quickies in the bathroom while the kids watch Saturday morning cartoons.
Making time for your marriage means laughing at inside jokes no one else understands even if you drive people bonkers in the process.
Making time for your marriage means a few minutes awake in bed in the early morning pre-dawn hours, limbs twisted and breathing in sync, before a parade of children comes crashing through the door demanding cereal and cartoons and diaper changes.
Making time for your marriage means sending tacky emoji-filled texts, forwarding dirty jokes in the middle of the afternoon because it might make him laugh in the middle of a conference call, and every once in a while sexting a photo of your boobs (via Snapchat, of course, so the kids don’t find it when they grab your phone to play Minecraft).
Making time for your marriage means a shoulder rub in the two minutes between tucking the kids in at night and a child popping out to tell you that his nose is itchy and he needs another drink of water.
Making time for your marriage means the occasional date night when you vow not to talk about the kids, but you start talking about them before you’ve finished your first drink.
Making time for your marriage means long conversations in the minivan on the drive home from the zoo while the kids sleep in the backseat.
Making time for your marriage means browsing the aisles at Target together on a Friday night because one of you wants to look at patio furniture, the other wants new sunglasses, and you’re out of milk.
Making time for your marriage means forgiveness—lots and lots of forgiveness—because you’re too damn tired to fight about it anymore.
Making time for your marriage means dreaming about a future together and remembering a past together for about three minutes before you are snapped back to reality by a toddler peeing on the kitchen floor.