It was happening.

The no-look passing by in the kitchen. The conversation that was strictly about schedules and kids and work. The nit-picking over dirty dishes and laundry left on the stairs. The phone scrolling at night on opposite ends of the couches.

We were becoming more like roommates than husband and wife, and it was no fault but our own.

My husband and I have been married for over a decade, and I proudly say that he is my soulmate. Our marriage isn’t perfect. Neither of us are perfect. But, he’s the man I was supposed to marry. He’s a phenomenal father, a loving husband and a person with the kind of integrity with which I’m proud to be associated.

But with young children and a two-working-parent household, we are just in a season of life right now when our marriage isn’t all about the romance.

Life is demanding, our kids aren’t quite yet independent and there’s always somewhere that someone needs to be on time. And while I have learned to give our marriage grace that it isn’t always going to be about love letters and spontaneous gifts and grand gestures like it was in the beginning, I also know that it’s easy to fall into the trap of excuses.

“Well, the kids have school. It’s not like we can just cut out the homework and projects to make time for us instead!”

“Well, we have to make money. It’s not like we can just stop working and make more time for us instead.”

There IS school. There IS work. There IS a lot going on . . . and sometimes we can’t change that.

But to me, marriage is about the commitment to going through these seasons of life, recognizing their challenges and working together to figure out how we can still foster our relationship with the time we’re given. It’s about KNOWING when months are going to be busy and stressful, and finding even just the smallest ways to remind the other one that you’re more than just a roommate.

Because if there’s time to watch the latest viral video that comes across my social media feed, there’s time to write a little note in my husband’s work bag before he goes off on a work trip.

If there’s time to binge watch something on Netflix together, there’s time to have a date night inside the house over wine and talk about the things that are on our hearts instead.

If there’s time to text my friends about the latest episode of The Bachelor, there’s time to send my husband a text at work thanking him for working so hard for our family.

If there’s time in the car driving our kids to practice, there’s time to talk about how our days are going.

When these little moments aren’t happening, it’s easy to fall into the roommate trap . . . even when you’re a strong couple.

And that’s where we found ourselves just before we had a planned “didn’t know how perfect that timing was” weekend away without kids.  We were both stressed and we were completely disconnected . . . and we both knew it.

I used to feel guilty about these trips—spending the money, missing family time and taking a break from work—but the value that this time brought to our marriage was worth all of it. We connected. We looked each other in the eye. We had fun.We held hands. And most importantly, we came home reminded that we aren’t just roommates, and that the love we have is worth fighting for.  

And the bonus? We missed our kids, and they missed us. And sometimes it’s good for all of us to be reminded that we really do love being together.

But I also came home from that trip realizing that I can’t rely on a adults-only weekend away to keep that vibe alive.  The money isn’t always there. The time isn’t always there. The help with the kids isn’t always there. What’s always there is homework, work, schedules and “stuff”.

And we need to keep fighting for those little in between moments amidst all of “the busy” to let each other know we don’t just share a house key . . . but we have the key to each other’s hearts.

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Brea Schmidt

Brea Schmidt is a writer, photographer and speaker who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch. She also owns newborn, children and family photography business Photography by Brea. She and her husband raise their three young children in Pittsburgh, PA.