Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Keeping the Flame Alive

A bit back I read Middle Aged Mormon Man's suggestions on maintaining a strong marriage.  I didn't think I'd want to jot them down, but I keep thinking back to them.  I'd better put them here before I forget:

1) Pucker Up. Don't be shy about kissing, hugging and holding hands with your kids present. They act like they hate it -and maybe they do - but it reinforces that your desire to hug your spouse is more important than their discomfort. (Note:  Don't be ridiculous about this - they don't need to think their parents are pervs with no self-control)

A little time after reading this, my husband came home and said how grateful he was that he married me and what a wonderful wife I am.  It made me feel so good.  We had a good, passionate kiss.  I looked over to see my girls looking at us in smiley dismay.  Now, my husband and I nearly always greet or go with a kiss, but the girls really noticed this one!  It was so cute.  A week? or so later, my husband came home from work and we were all in a rush.  My 5 year old came to me and said, "Mom, you and dad forgot to kiss!"  It was just darling.  Even today, after we'd kissed when my husband got home, my daughter found another time when we were parting (for just a minute) that we should kiss.  I think she likes it.

2) Be Inseparable. Sit next to each other in church/movies/etc. I know, there is a natural tendency to sit as far away from each other as possible, with the kids corralled in-between. Resist this impulse. Sit by each other. Hold hands. In years of sitting on the stand, I have seen a strong correlation that the couples with the strongest marriages usually sit next to each other in church.

My parents always did this (still do).  I remember as a child trying to sit between my parents and my dad saying, "No, you cannot sit there. I want to sit by MY wife!"  Once we knew that was the rule, I don't think we ever tried to sit between them.  My husband and I aren't as diligent with this one, but we've been trying more.

3) Date Night!  Go on dates - weekly if you can. I am constantly amazed when I hear someone say "We haven't been on a date in three months" but the couple manages to attend every soccer/baseball game all season long. The marriage is more important that the kids hobbies.  Is it a money issue? Trade babysitting. Exploit the grandparents. Guilt a Beehive into doing it for service. Do cheap things. which leads us to..
We're working on this one.  But I do have to add, we DON'T make it to all sorts of kid activities, we just don't have kid activities, but we also just have a hard time getting on dates.  We've been better at getting/pre-arranging babysitters, though.

4) Temple Time.  Go to the temple together. Let your kids know. Sometimes spouses will trade-off -one will attend, the other will stay home, then they swap. Go together. After all, temple is really all about that very relationship, isn't it? And it is a cheap date.
OK, I appreciate this one, but with the little kids and the potential to pay $18 for a baby-sitter so we can go to the temple just doesn't sit right with me.  It's not like we even talk when we're there.  I'm sure when our oldest can babysit, we'll go together again, but I just have a hard time with it now.  Plus, I do enjoy the individual/personal things I can learn at the temple.  I always wished I could have gone through the temple some time prior to getting married, just so I could experience it as an individual, rather than as a spouse, but that didn't happen.  I guess now's my time to take it in for me.

5) Bedtime. Go to bed at the same time.  I know I'm talking to the blogging world, and some of you might not understand what I am saying, so I will type it again, more slowly:  Go to bed at the same time.  Why? As your kids get older, they start to notice stuff like that, and if dad goes to bed, and mom stays up to clean the kitchen, questions will rightfully arise in their minds. Likewise, if mom goes to bed, and dad stays up to surf the internet, you are just asking for trouble. Kids are aware of these things...