After becoming a parent for the fourth time in four years, I started looking at other big families around me. In many cases I saw a great bond between husband and wife and was curious how easy it is with so many kids. So I felt the need to ask the big question. How do families with four or more children keep the love alive when you know there is a great amount of everyday stress? The honeymoon period is short lived… maybe two years, so what do we do after the fire is gone. Sometimes it literally takes agreeing to be together regardless. That can be easier or harder than expected because every couple is different and that’s because every person is so unique. Love is more of an action than a feeling. You can feel it, but unless you do something to fully enhance it, foster it, do what you can to keep it, that love will eventually die.
1. Everyone has bad days, but a bad day doesn’t necessarily mean a bad life. Realizing this is the first step.
2. Make time for one another. Be it with ice cream after the kids are tucked in bed, or ordering takeout and slow dancing in the kitchen. Date nights are very popular in keeping the love alive after having children, but take it a step further and go on vacation without the kids every year.
3. Appreciate you and how important you are to the relationship. That means taking care of yourself and making time for just you. Sometimes all I need to do is set the reset button. As a mom, it is easy for me to forget I’m more than that and more than a wife too. Sometimes our marriage suffers if I never have a moment alone or time to connect with friends or hobbies. My husband is the same. He takes time to workout and, when we’re back in Missouri he hunts.
4. Hold each other for 60 seconds… or give a slow, warm kiss for that long instead. What this means is getting on each other’s level and basically breath each other’s air. This is kissing, touching, hugging, whatever. Let those kids see a little PDA from mom and dad, and don’t let them try and stop you.
5. You can’t expect everything to be 50/50 in a marriage. There are some things I know I’m better at than he is, and there are somethings my husband takes on more than I do. I do more diapers, I cook more meals, I get up with the babies in the middle of the night. That’s okay. He gives back to me and I know he appreciates what I do.
6. It is a work in progress. Marriage is not about falling in love once. Both parties are asked to make the other fall in love with them over and over again.
7. Show your love by doing what your spouse is interest in too… even if it is not your thing. My husband is really into ju jitsu right now. He is constantly wanting to show me each move. I am so annoyed by it, on the inside, but it is a complete bonding experience and I can see pure enjoyment in his eyes and I love that.
8. Kick those kiddos to the curb, or at least to their bedrooms. There is nothing more disappointing than to be in the mood to share a little love with the love of your life than to find a sweet little munchkin lying in between the two of you.
9. Sex. Don’t make excuses not to, just do it. I know you’re both tired, for various or multiple reasons, but make time for it. Sex is important to your marriage. It is the one action God requests us to do in order to become one.
10. Put your spouse first. Those little loves will eventually grow up and be out of the house. What will you be left with then? Maybe I should have made this number one, but sometimes it is easier to remember if it is the last thing you read. Let’s be very clear, do not worship your spouse, but let him know he is your number one with small gestures. When the husband comes home from work I “attempt” to put down what I’m doing and greet him at the door. That doesn’t mean hollering from across the room. Stop preparing dinner and walk to the door and give a real “welcome home.” I’m still working on this one myself.
Regardless of what you choose, make the effort to stay together and keep the spark alive and you’ll be reaping the rewards… maybe not as soon as you’d like, but soon enough. Just don’t give up too soon. You’ll marriage will begin to feel like a blessing from God if you take the time to continuously cultivate it.