In the book 7 Stages of Marriage: Laughter, Intimacy, and Passion, the authors note that, due to jobs, kids, TV, the Internet, hobbies, and home and family responsibilities, the average married couple spends just four minutes a day alone together.
Married couples with children will often lament that spending time together as a couple can be a momentous feat. Our modern society is built on a nuclear family concept, which means that parents are often attending to their children’s needs on a constant basis without help from any other family members.
In between the sleepless nights, feeding and the various extracurricular activities, it can be a huge challenge to spend time together.
By investing time and effort in relationships, you help nurture them and help them grow and develop. “The dynamic in a marriage changes drastically, because your priorities shift from yourself and your spouse to your child.
That’s especially true in our age of helicopter parenting, where parents worry that not enrolling Junior in every available art or tumbling class will mean a rejection from Harvard,” says Dr. Carol Lindquist, author of Happily Married With Kids: It’s Not a Fairy Tale. She adds that the best gift you can give your children is to have a happy marriage.
Some couples go through great expenditure to ensure that their relationship grows and that their identity as a couple is not lost in the momentous challenge of parenthood.
Spending time together does not have to mean planning romantic “date night” dinners at a favorite restaurant or waiting to organize an expensive weekend getaway. Sometimes such options don’t work, especially for couples with young children.
The easiest way to bond is by constructively spending quality time together at home when the kids are asleep, out with a family member or while they are practicing a sport. These are perfect opportunities to reconnect and find your love spark again.
Tips to reconnect as a couple without leaving home
1. Couple’s halaqa
Zuhair Girach, a complimentary therapist at U.K.-based Mind Horizon, suggests that couples need to reconnect on a daily basis and that having a daily halaqa (a religious-reading session) in their home is an essential way to do this.
By doing so, the couple are changing the dynamic of their marriage and connecting their souls, which will take them forward in all aspects of their life. He says that this can be easily done by spending ten to 20 minutes a few times a week reading an Islamic text or reciting Qur’an together.
2. Start a garden together
For Saarah, a mother-of-two from South Africa, a typical Saturday morning involves a leisurely breakfast followed by taking her sons to soccer practice. Afterwards, Saarah and her husband spend a few hours tending to their veggie patch.
Between the weeding, mulching and watering, the couple realized that this was a great time to catch up with things happening in their daily lives. Most therapists agree that couples that have shared interests are more likely to stay happily together.
3. Stay in and cook a romantic dinner together
Doing something with your partner as enjoyable as gastronomy helps you both feel more connected and much happier. Setting time aside to prepare a meal with your partner makes them want to respond to the action and do caring things in return for you.
The more energy you put into meeting your partner’s needs, the more you will see it come back to you tenfold. This creates a cycle of improvement in your relationship.The added bonus about this idea is there is no need for a babysitter and there is no worry about being disappointed by a restaurant meal or rushing back home to the kids.
4. Embrace your DIY side
Go to a hardware store and buy the supplies you need for a small DIY project at home. Start with something easy like a bookshelf or pick a room to redecorate and make a change.
While this is a great fun, it’s also a fantastic way to learn about the likes and dislikes of your partner. This is not about being a master interior designer but it is more about the time you spend working together while accomplishing something the whole family will enjoy.
5. Read books together
How about checking out the same books at the library or sharing an e-book account and starting your own private book club?
There are times when couples find that they only talk about the kids. Discussing various topics in books is a great way to find out more about your partner’s opinions. Challenge each other to try a genre your spouse might have not considered. And no parenting books allowed! You could make it more fun by adding themes to your book club evening.
6. Do household chores together
Sharing household responsibilities means spending more time together. By doing this together you take the daily drudgery out of daily household chores, be it washing the dishes or sorting laundry.
Banter around and talk to each other so you can take a load off your partner’s shoulders. This also means that chores are done more quickly so you can have more time to spend on things you both enjoy.
7. Pray together
Remember when you were newly married and you did everything together, including prayer? Why do couples let that fall by the wayside? Try at least to perform one daily prayer together.
Emotional and physical connection is highly valued in a marriage but the spiritual connection is most important. And while we can try to do one daily prayer together, how about trying a sunnah (non-obligatory) prayer together? This will hopefully ensure that blessings and tranquility will descend on the home and connect your hearts as well.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are more than parents. We are half of a strong and emotional bond. It’s often too late to realize this when the kids move out.
Marriage requires constant work. Reconnecting with your partner is not only good for you: it’s good for the children and the whole family. There is no downside to spending time together. It simply makes life better.
First published May 2015