Marriage & Simply Being Together

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I am no expert on marriage. But, thankfully, I’ve spent the last 16 years married to Mr. Right-for-Me. It hasn’t been all fun and games. There have been rough times. We’ve been hacking a life together in the jungle.

But, whoever wrote those traditional marriage vows knew what he was saying: for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health. Indeed, it’s reassuring to know that someone’s got your back when times are tough — as well as when times are good.

Looking back over the years, I know that many of the hard times were the ones that strengthened our marriage. I know this is a gift. Not every marriage fares as well. I am mindful of that and very thankful.

And I continue to learn new things about my husband, each and every day.

Being Together

One important thing I’ve realized over time is that simply being together is vital to our marriage, to our friendship, to our sense of intimacy with one another. If we go too long without really talking and connecting with one another, there isn’t the sense of unity that we enjoy so much.

The days go by all too quickly and when I’m busy being chef, chauffeur, nanny, and housekeeper, it’s all too easy to let time with my main squeeze fall by the wayside. Date nights are great, but every day interactions can often count more than a night out on the town.

Here are some things that help me love my husband. They may — or may not — work for you. But, either way, I hope they’ll help you think about what does.

1. Start the day right.

I try to get up when my husband does. Not because he expects it; he most certainly does not. But, since I’m generally an early bird anyway, I try to stir from my cocoon in time to see him out the door. This helps us touch bases in the morning. Since I know he has a lot on his mind, heading into work, I try not to bombard him with too many nagging items. (I save those for emails. Ha!)

As he goes out into the big world each morning, I want us both to remember that we’re in this together and that I’m on his side.

2. Greet one another warmly.

When FishPapa comes home in the afternoon, I try to pause what I’m doing in order to welcome him home. If I were gone all day, I would enjoy the same thing in return.

He might go play with the kids or I might go back to whatever I was doing, but we’ve taken a few moments to reconnect.

3. Review the day.

A little “happy hour” snack or drink to share gives us both a chance to unwind and catch up on what’s been going on. It’s a wonderful transition from day to evening.

I’m finding that it’s also helpful if I start on whatever household chore I’ve been postponing all day. I have companionship while I work, making the task seem less of a chore, and he gets a chance to tell me what’s been going on or to catch up on what he’s missed while he was away.

4. Enjoy common — and not so common — pursuits.

I love sappy romances; hubs enjoys adventure. I was worried one day that our disparate tastes were really out there — until we watched the first installment of Sherlock. I was reminded of our common ground: mystery movies.

He doesn’t love Remington Steele like I do, but we’ve really enjoyed other mystery stories, including Wallander, Lord Peter, and the aforementioned Sherlock. Finding that common ground provides entertainment for us both.

And sometimes we just tolerate the other’s interests in order to be together.

If there’s baseball, football, hockey, golf, or NASCAR on TV, chances are good that hubs wants to watch it. While I could certainly live without all of the above, I’m learning to enjoy them with him. We chat during the game or race; I ask dumb questions or make snarky comments about the commercials, and we’re still together, even though we’re not doing my most favorite thing.

Likewise, hubs accompanies me to Target or watches that sappy movie with me.

5. Go to bed at the same time.

Now for obvious reasons, this is a good thing. (Just saying.)

But, I know that it’s also more companionable to turn in at the same time. We get another chance to reconnect, we discuss plans for the next day, we dream big dreams as the day ends.

These are NOT hard and fast “tricks to a happy marriage.” In no way would I prescribe a one-size-fits-all experience. But, these are ways that help me feel connected and in-tune with what’s going on with my husband. And maybe they might work for you, too.

How do you enrich your time spent with hubs?

In the weeks leading up to Father’s Day, I’m collaborating with a great group of bloggers to share ideas on how to “honor the man they call daddy.”

This week we’re sharing our different approaches to loving our husbands in how we spend time together.

Be sure to hop around and be inspired:

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  1. Your list sounds just like my life and what I aspire to do with my guy. One other thing I know we do is to pop in “our song”. Not regularly, just a few times a year, usually when one or both of us is grouchy. Almost before the first line, we are singing along and before the CD is over our spirits are lifted.

  2. Thank you for reminding us of all of these small things we can do! I know I sometimes get caught up in what’s going on in life and it’s easy to forget. It’s nice to see a reminder every once in a while and it makes that lightbulb go off in your head, like, yeah I used to do that, why don’t I do that anymore??? It is so nice to reconnect!

  3. “Date nights are great, but every day interactions can often count more than a night out on the town.”

    Yes. This. We really strive to make our passing-in-the-night contact constantly uplifting and supportive. Which is good, because date nights are few and far between. If we relied only on dedicated time, we’d be hurting. Thanks.

  4. We are actually in one of those “difficult” times. I’m watching my husband walk through this, seeing his burden and how he carries it all–I am filled with great compassion, love and respect for him. I try to make his homecoming relaxing by picking up and cleaning around the house before he gets in, and having dinner smells greet him. I call him during the day and pack his lunch. When I think of how I might fare under his pressures, I know I would appreciate the same support, and it makes me want to try harder for him.

    Thanks for this post.

  5. Before we had our baby we used to cuddle and touch all the time, but for the last year our little guy gets most of that affection. So I make a point whenever I can to TOUCH my husband, and remind us both that there’s more than just our son connecting us!

  6. Thanks for these great reminders! My husband and I have been married nine years, and love each other deeply, but like others here, I, too, feel like we’ve fallen into a rut, just not always making the effort to make our time together quality time. We have four children ages 5 to seven months, so by the time he gets home from work, I clean up the kitchen, and the kids get in bed, we’re both pretty wiped out! We struggle with going to bed at the same time as I often use the evenings to catch up on all the stuff I don’t get done during the day with the little ones up and around. I have considered many times getting up when he does and making him breakfast. I’ve been working on it just this week actually. Staying connected is so important! Something we’ve started (AGAIN) is doing a Bible study together once a week or so. It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, but we’re trying!

  7. This was a very timely post for me, as today is my 8th anniversary! Many of the things you suggested I hadn’t even thought of – getting up when he gets up, even if I don’t have to?! – and others I often let slip – yes, I suppose I SHOULD stop checking my email to greet him when he gets home! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for reminding me of the little things I can do to keep my relationship with my husband strong!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing! I found this very inspiring ๐Ÿ™‚

    My husband and I have some of the same rituals, but I would like to add a couple you mentioned. I like the idea of getting up with him, and catching up over “happy hour”. I am going to start trying both of these. We have two little ones for now, and I know that our lives will only get crazier as we add more children and as they grow up and get busy.
    Thanks again for being so inspiring!

  9. What a great post, Jessica! My husband and I are both big “quality time” fans, so I really resonated with this.

    Especially love “happy hour” and going to bed at the same time!

  10. I had to chuckle at your comment about watching sports with your hubby. I feel exactly the same way! I’ve found that if I have something to keep my hands busy while I sit on the couch with him, it’s much easier to enjoy watching a game or race. I can keep one eye on the TV, but still feel like I’m doing something I enjoy–knitting, crocheting, reading a book, or even catching up on emails. Thanks for the great tips!

  11. Thanks for reminding me. Lately I’ve been feeling that we have fallen into a rut and ,while we still love each other, the spark isn’t always there. Now I realise that perhaps the problem is that we dont’ spend the time together that we used to. I often go to bed after he does, I don’t watch his favourite programs with him and if I’m watching anything sappy he’ll go find something else to do. Perhaps if I change one thing the spark will return. We love each other dearly but it just seems like life has gotten in the way!

  12. Great ideas – we try and do all of these too. One thing that seems to make a difference for us when he comes home is how the house looks… granted, the place isn’t going to be sparkling and everything put in it’s place all the time (we have a one-year-old!), but something as simple as having the dishes done and counters cleared when he gets home really can set the tone for our evening together.

  13. You are so right about the “uncommon” pursuits! My husband is a science fiction buff. I had no desire to watch anything sci-fi when we got married 7 years ago. Likewise, he did not understand my sewing obsession. Over the years, we started tolerating one another’s interests in an effort to have more time together. In creating that tolerance, we have both developed an interest in one another’s pursuits. I can now watch an episode of Star Trek and completely understand why it is that Star Fleet is having trouble with the Klingons. Hubby will try to help me match fabric while we’re in the fabric store and will peruse the pattern books for things he thinks I might like. Even though one another’s activities would not be our individual first choices, we’ve learned to appreciate and respect our differences and why they make us who we, as a couple, are.

  14. Great list and great reminder and great encouragement to the newly marrieds.

    We just celebrated 21 years. We also now have a senior in high school and a sophomore. We have put plenty of time into our marriage, and as sad as we are to be coming to the end of a chapter in our lives, we know that we will be fine when the kids are gone.

    One thing I would add to the list is not just date nights, but vacations for 2. I know it is sometimes hard to get away, but make it happen, even if for a night.

  15. I have just recently started being up when my husband of 12 years goes to work. He works both nights and days, so our “schedule” if you can call it that, gets thrown off every week depending on what he is working. I have always greeted him at the door if possible with a kiss as soon as he gets home regardless of what I am doing, it only takes a second and it’s my way to say thank you for going out and working while I get to stay home with our children. Likewise neither one of us is allowed to leave the house with out a kiss good bye. We do most things together even if it’s not a favorite thing. I took up fly fishing, and I try to ride horses occationally but I always support his and the boys’ love of horses. My husband actually likes sappy movies so I’ve lucked out there. We alway try to go to bed at the same time, unless of course he’s at work then we can’t. I can say we’ve had rough times, 4 years of infertility, two boys that had Acid reflux and Colic, and LOTS of me being sick, recently we’ve been diagnoised Celiac so major life changer but we’re healthier. He’s always been by my side and we have a stronger marriage because of it.

  16. I completely agree about going to bed/getting up together… it’s a little difficult for me (I work nights…hubby gets up with or before the sun) but when I’m not working I don’t stay up late… and I’ve started setting my alarm in the morning so I can at least say good morning from my pillow.

    The thing I’m struggling with is slowing down or stopping when he gets home… that time of the evening is soooo busy. It’s a work in progress.

    Great post by the way!

  17. This post really resonated with me especially since my hubs seriously drove me crazy this morning. We both work full-time outside the home, have our children, a dog, house, and everything else to take care of. Life certainly gets stressfull. I do feel like we are able to handle it much better when we are working as a team. Also, it helps immensley when we work to make it a priority to spend quality time together away from everything so we try to get a sitter and go out to dinner about once a month.

  18. Thanks so much for this post. It came just in time for our 3rd anniversary. Now 3 years is not time at all but alot has changed in 3 years. He works really hard with long days to provide for his family, and I am of course busy as a bee taking care of our 2 children, so i am always exhausted as well. (I am pregnant with our 3rd so, that contributes to the exhaustion, haha) I am just saying that sometimes it is hard to stay connected even after only 3 years of marriage, so to be reminded how important it is is great for me. Something I have always wanted to do, but i find so difficult is to wake up when he does. I would LOVE to send him off and tell him I love him every morning. I always think about it, so maybe i will give it a go. He is the WAY early bird, and I am the the farthest thing from it. haha. Again thanks for this wonderful post!

    1. @Amber, Maybe you can leave him little surprises… sweet nothings… like little notes or a treat that he’ll find when he’s up and around in the morning. I usually sleep later but my honey loves it when I set up coffee the night before, that’s ready on a timer when he gets up.

  19. Thanks for writing this- it’s a topic I always put when you have surverys. Great points and ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. We recently realized that as soon as we put baby to bed we’d plunk on the couch and turn on the TV. Our relationship started to suffer and become rather strained and we tried to break the habit of our own free will but to no avail. We finally made a joint decision that for however long necessary we needed to cancel our cable service. It’s already made a huge difference, I honestly don’t even miss it which is surprising to me. And we are really able to talk and communicate things that are on our mind that before would have seemed insignificant but we are realizing now are very important to our unity.

  21. This was so encouraging to me! Thanks for sharing!

    I love that happily surprised look my husband gets on his face when I’ve taken the time during football season (the only sport he really goes crazy over!) to plan special foods for “football nights”. And when his Saints went to the Superbowl two years ago, I made sure to go all out!

    He doesn’t even have to say thank you, I can see it in his eyes.

  22. completely agree with your list — especially go to bed together. I was always writing one more blog post and hubs would turn off the light w/o me – I didn’t realize how much he’d come to resent the computer because it was stealing his time. Even if it was pillow talk or just cuddling — I wouldn’t want him someplace else than in our bed when I went to sleep! Great point.

  23. Although we are not always able to do the same things you’ve mentioned, we text each other or call during the day, share new music we’ve recently heard, and try to hold hands often like we did when we were dating.