The other day, Mark and I decided
to enjoy the beautiful
weather outside and take a
drive with the kids to nowhere
in particular. It's something we used to
do all the time when we first started dating
all the way to when the children
were little—usually out of desperation
to try to get them to sleep. We would
use the captive time in the car to talk
and be together without the million
interruptions life often presents.
But over time, and thanks to an ever-growing
schedule of activities, we
stopped this ritual. The other day
reminded me why, because almost
immediately after we started our drive
the complaining started.
"Where are we going?"
"What's the point of this?"
"Can we get something to eat?"
Exasperated, I told Mark to forget it.
But he wasn't so quick to give up. He
grabbed my hand and began explaining
to the kids why what we were doing was
important to him and me. He drove
some of our favorite routes from over
the years, captivating our kids with stories
of the houses we dreamed of owning,
places we used to hang out with
friends, spots with amazing views.
Amazingly, the kids seemed to enjoy
the trip down memory lane. And I was
once again reminded that, just like that
little road trip, marriage requires you to
keep forging ahead every day—even
when it would be easier just to give up.
Time to Refocus
This month, Mark and I will be celebrating
our 15th wedding anniversary.
Before we got married—and even
after—we spent a lot of time on our
relationship, our communication, our
future. But as happens with a lot of
marriages, over time, and with the addition
of each child, the focus started to
become less on us and more on others.
Conflicting kids' activities often saw
us going separate ways more than in
the same direction. Suddenly, date nights consisted of either shopping
for things the kids needed or the old
standby of dinner and a movie.
The Everyday Struggles of Marriage
If there's one thing I learned quickly once I got married, it's
that marriages can rise and fall not on the big things, but
rather the little things, like laundry or individual quirks. To
hear more about marriage and those "little things," visit Franciscan
Radio (www.franciscanradio.org) to listen to my
Marriage Moments radio segments on 13 topics.
Then earlier this year Mark started
a new job that required an outrageous
amount of travel at the outset. For
months, our communication seemed to
consist of text messages, brief phone
calls and instant messaging.
To say it was rough is an understatement.
But that's why I'm so glad
we have those vows we made years
ago. They provide us with the strong
underpinnings on which our entire
family is based.
An Ever-changing Promise
Those of you who are married know
that your relationship can and will
change from day to day, month to
month and year to year. Sometimes on
our wedding day, when we recite those
vows promising to love each other "in
good times and bad, in sickness and
health," we tend not to focus on those
not-so-wonderful parts. But that's when
we need our vows the most.
Here are some suggestions for ways
to help you keep celebrating your marriage.
Revisit your "I do's." One night
recently, Mark and I sat on the couch
after the kids went to bed and watched
the video of our wedding. While we
were watching, we talked about the
things that meant a lot to us, what was
going through our heads at the time
and what we might do differently if
we got to plan it all over again.
Talk. Think of some ways that you
and your spouse have managed to keep
the romance alive in your marriage.
Talk them over with your partner. Then
plan a nice night out or in for just the
two of you.
Go on a date. Mark a date on your
calendar each month and stick to it.
Trust me, I know it's not easy, but your
marriage is worth it. Make spending
time together a priority. It doesn't have
to be an expensive night out; you could
stay at home and find something to
do. Just make sure it is all about the two
Turn back the clock. Remember
all the things the two of you used to do
"just because"? Start doing them again.
Hold hands, write each other love notes
or surprise your spouse with his or her
favorite treat. Rekindle the flame.
These days, instead of bringing home
flowers, sometimes Mark will bring me
home a fountain soda, one of my
favorite indulgences. Dinner dates have
morphed into lunch dates while the
kids are at school. And during football
season, since we're both big fans, Sunday
and Monday nights we try to have
a standing date to watch the games
together after the kids have gone to