My husband’s longtime friend popped in for a visit, he’s a single man with a big time job and life of travel. Something I know nothing about. We were excited to delve into the day to day of his life, knowing that we could learn a thing or two from his wanderlust lifestyle. But what happened was very different; he opened our eyes to a very common, but often times overlooked, problem in our marriage.
While he was sitting at our kitchen bar, chatting up my toddlers and enjoying a beer, my husband and I were deep in conversation.
“Where did you put that insurance bill?” My husband asks. “On the desk. Oh, that reminds me, I scheduled dentist appointments for everyone, we go next week.” I reply.
I continue stirring dinner; hubby is bustling around the kitchen. We hear our youngest cry.
“Your turn or my turn?” I ask. “I’ll take it. When is the last time she’s eaten?” He wonders. “A snack, about an hour ago.” I answer. “Speaking of, I saw these new organic snacks at Costco, I think the kids will enjoy those.”
We hear a muffled sound from the kitchen bar. We both turn. My husband’s friend calmly asks, “Do your conversations ever go beyond the maintenance of your household?” To which I said, “Hm, interesting. I’ve never really paid attention.”
And while the above dialogue seems innocent and very necessary, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t the end all and be all of our daily conversations. I looked at my husband and knew, in that moment, I was going to start paying attention. Maybe, just maybe, this small change can give our marriage the boost it needs.
Our household is run like a (semi) well-oiled machine. Our kids enjoy their predictable routines and our family business is flourishing. But what is a business without a little fun, a little love and a little unpredictability?
Marriage is a bit tricky, right? Love brought you together, the fairy-tale wedding fueled you, and thoughts of a family rushed through your mind. What happens after the awe of all things new and sweet?
You both get jobs, you buy a new car, invest in a home and maybe start a family. These very real situations sprout very real conversations about bills, money, deadlines and obligations. You no longer have time for the impromptu board games, late nights and pillow talk. Or so, that’s what you think.
How are we supposed to stay married on a foundation of “maintenance” conversations? I doubt chatting about the electric bill is the secret to a 70-year long marriage.
That evening with our longtime friend was filled with laughter, great food, wine and beyond fantastic conversations. We never revisited the dentist piece and went to bed with a renewed energy to really talk. “Let’s work on this communication thing, it’s kind of important, right? I mean, bills don’t really excite me too much.”
This isn’t a change that can happen overnight and it’s not realistic to never discuss the business of our house. We did, however, implement a few key elements to our days, weeks and months. We decided to nurture and treasure our conversations.
Date Nights are key for us. Here we get to revisit our innocent dating life while taking pleasure in yummy food. Topics blossom organically when you are removed from the home. Having zero distractions from a messy kitchen, clingy children and the family calendar is essential.
Binge Watching Netflix is an escape from reality with your best friend. This is something you can indulge in after the kids are in bed. It’s free, it’s exciting, and you chat about fictional lives and their wild drama. It gives you and your spouse something to look forward to, and more importantly, gets you chatting about the latest gossip in virtual land. For us, our guilty pleasure is anything Marvel produced by Netflix. Seriously, check it out. Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist. They have the action for hubby and romantic drama for wifey.
Board Games & Card Games are a viable option here. I know, I know, many men will shake their heads at this suggestion, but hear me out. You are so wrapped up in the competition and critical thinking involved with most games, that you stop paying mind to the day-to-day. For a second anyway. As long as you aren’t channeling your inner Monica Gellar, this should make for some silly conversations.
The 52 Lists Project By Moorea Seal is possibly my favorite trick to get one another talking. It’s a book made up entirely of blank lists. Each list is preceded by topics like, “List The Things That Make You Laugh” or “List The Most Memorable Moments Of The Past Year.” I love to ask these questions out loud and answer them together. Oh my, how much I have learned by hearing his answers. This book alone has encouraged a momentous connection. And this isn’t a “sit down, let’s discuss life” type of activity. Grab the book when you two are sitting down in front of TV or over cocktails, make it fun, not a chore.
I don’t know about you, but I want to leave behind a legacy of pure love. I want to set an example for my children, through my marriage. I want to make my husband feel important and heard. Running a household isn’t easy, so let’s remember to have a little fun and keep those 16-year-old curious souls alive. After all, there is still something to learn about your significant other, even after all these years.