When I was pregnant with my first son, I had a friend who was the eldest of nine children, who told me that her parents had maintained a vibrant and loving relationship—despite all the children.
“But how?” I asked. She said they swore it was in large part due to “date night.” Every Friday was their time, and they most often had a traditional date out on the town. They would rarely skip a week. It was simply always on the calendar.
I loved this idea and thought we would do the same. But, as it turned out, my husband and I had too many excuses: “Money is too tight. The baby needs us. It’s too far to town. I’m tired.”
Years went by and we never hired a babysitter. And, honestly—our relationship suffered.
We lost our sense of connection around anything outside of daily life details. We lost some serious spark. One friend told me we were in a “dry toast” relationship. We ended up divorced.
You know that saying: “If you can’t be a good example you will just have to be a horrible warning?” Well, I’m okay with being a warning as long as it helps others become a great example. Though I think I’ve moved on to being a great example myself, too.
Now, my man and I have a pretty magic thing going. And we love our date nights. We make it a top priority, and have it on the calendar for every week, along with a few other essential connection times.
We decided our sense of loving connection was far more important than our fears of going broke, or the fact that the baby might be a little sad while we are gone.
Though we actually found some simple ways to address that, too. There are always solutions when we set our minds to something. Some date nights we hit the town, but many we just eat late, after our boys are down to sleep. We light some candles, put on some romantic music, eat a fancier home-cooked meal, and spend some time with each other, fully present.
We have found that in order to stay intimately connected to each other, we need to carve out time to be together—regularly.
Some people resist scheduling time to connect. They think connection should be spontaneous when you both “feel” like it. That it feels forced or faked when it’s prescheduled.
I believe the opposite is true.
How often in our full-to-brimming life do we simply feel like “connecting?” Even if we do, how often does the desire to do so line up with our partner’s? That’s a complaint I hear really often from my clients: “We are just never on the same page at the same time.”
But they are regularly surprised by experiencing that, rather than making it less meaningful, scheduling time to connect fuels its potency.
Because when we do so, we know it is coming and mentally and emotionally make space for it. This can allow us to consider things we plan to share with our partner, or to simply get excited to be with them. So when it comes time to be together, we are ready on all levels and not distracted by other things.
It also helps us to feel secure in knowing we will be connecting and sharing our love soon, and not leave it up to fate or chance or our emotional whims. This makes it an especially effective relationship health tool, because it shows each other how much you value feeling close and connected—enough to generate it consciously.
If you want more quality connection time with your partner, or you feel like your relationship has lost some spark, or you want to increase the spark that remains, I highly encourage marking your calendar with some activities for just the two of you.
Even with three wild sons spanning 11 years, home ownership and all that it entails in our snowy climate, and both of us running our own businesses, my man and I have an incredibly sparkly relationship, with much laughter and love between us.
In large part, this is due to us scheduling at least some of the following activities every week:
A “business” meeting. We discuss things like bills, logistical decisions our schedule, and how we can help each other navigate such rote things easily. This helps us get all this off our minds so when we do the following things we are more genuinely present with each other.
Heart talk. We share our feelings of appreciation and clear the air over minor difficulties that may have come up over the week. Last night, he shared how powerfully effective this is for him to feel close to me. I have to agree. It’s 10 minutes potently spent.
Playing together. Yes, playing! Board games, hiking or walking through town, anything that is fun for both of us. This brings a sense of lightness and fun between us.
Conflict resolution. This can really be a great way to connect deeply as you move together past things that are coming between you.
Date night. Either at home or, when we have childcare, out on the town.
Ultimately, it is presence that is the core of connecting with one another. It doesn’t matter so much what the activity is as long as we hold the intention and create the space to be present with each other.
So, find something (or a few things) you like to do together, or try something new. Then write it down on your calendars, and when it comes time, be there fully with each other, enjoying your time together.
It’s such a simple thing to do, but it will not only preserve your relationship. Believe me, it will keep it lively, loving, and what will feel to you (and appear to others) magically intimate.
Author: Hannah Brooks
Image: studio tdes/Flickr
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron