How do you make time for each other as a couple, when you just don’t have a lot of time together as a couple? That question is the story of our marriage. My wife and I have always worked different shifts because we don’t have child care for our three children, which makes it really hard to have time to spend together.
For instance, a few months ago I was working at a chicken restaurant on second shift and my wife was working at a coffee and donut place on first shift. She went in anywhere from 4 am to 6 am and she’d get off around 2-3:30 pm. Then I’d have to go in to work at 4 pm and when I got home she was already asleep. So we barely had time to see each other.
More recently, I had a job working third shift while she worked first shift. By the time I got home from work, my wife was getting ready to go into work. That left me in charge of putting our son on the bus, walking our daughter to preschool, and watching our 15-month-old daughter during the day. When my wife got home around 5 in the evening, I’d stay up for a few hours to see her and eat dinner with the family, until finally I had a few hours to catch a snooze before going in to work at 10 pm. And the next day do the same thing all over again!
As you can see it was very hard for us to have time together as a couple.
Regardless of whether you and your spouse work different shifts, with all the hassle in life it’s easy to lose focus on your relationship and forget about the fact that you’re a couple. This is especially hard if you have children, because it’s so easy to become laser focused on being a parent and just trying to make life work.
But recently I’ve started thinking again about the importance of remembering that my wife and I are spouses too, not just parents. And that means cultivating our marriage and spending time together as a couple. I like to think of our marriage as the little battery icon in the corner of my phone. The stresses in life can make the battery’s energy dwindle, but even the smallest amount of time that we spend together can charge that battery a little bit at a time.
We don’t always have to go out on a long date; small things can be big too. Some small things that I’ve been thinking about that could make a big difference include just sitting in a room together and talking without any distractions, like cell phones and TV. It’s amazing how much better it is without those things when it comes to talking to someone.
Another small thing is flirting. You can always flirt with your spouse no matter how long you have been together. Flirting has a big impact on your relationship because it reminds your spouse that you’re still as interested in them as much as you were when you first got together. And what about cooking your spouse’s favorite meal or making them breakfast in bed? Just small things that remind him or her that you’re in love with them and you still care.
My wife and I don’t always have a lot of time to spend together, but I am realizing that it’s important. I’m going to start taking the small actions that I talked about in this piece and use them in my marriage, because I want to keep the fire going in our relationship until the day I die.
I don’t want to let that battery dwindle. I want my wife to know that I’m still madly in love with her and that I care about her just as much as I did when we first started dating. And amid all the stresses of life, I want to keep focused on each other as a couple as much as we do on each other as parents. Because we’re not just two parents living together; we’re husband and wife, too.