I know this post isn’t my usual style, but after over 15 years of marriage, I feel like I’ve learned a few things that would be worth sharing. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of couples who are way ahead of us in their marriages, but Barry and I are no longer “newlyweds”. We have been around the block a few times…15 times actually! So 15 blocks and 4 kids later, we feel comfortable answering some of your marriage questions. Readers submitted these and we decided to dive right in and do a Marriage Q & A:
Chelsea: My husband and I have had a rough year with him getting his Masters’ degree. What is your favorite thing to do to reconnect?
Barry: I remember going through that process 11 years ago, and we had zero free time. When it was over, we celebrated by going on our first big trip as a married couple. We went for one week – just the two of us – to Walt Disney World.
Stacy: But we didn’t have kids then. What would we do now? We would find someone to watch our kids and go away. LOL!
Barry: One thing I regret, before kids, is we didn’t make it enough of a priority to spend time away together. I’d encourage you to spend time alone together whenever you can.
Chelsea: How old were your kids the first time you left them to go away together?
Stacy: It was our 11th anniversary. Annie was 3 and I was pregnant with Andy. We still don’t leave them super often (I have control issues) but we are getting better. It’s good for them and it’s good for us too! One of our goals for this year was for Barry and me to travel more together.
Diana: What are your favorite at-home date nights?
Barry: Sunday night is almost always our at home date night. We have pizza and watch something mindless on TV. That’s a priority for us! We sit down and watch something together. It’s nothing fancy or super special!
Stacy: But we believe laughter is good medicine! We enjoy bonding over Saturday Night Live reruns or something else silly like The Office. Laughing together is like good exercise.
Sara Beth: What do you do to fellowship with other couples?
Barry: This is very hard for us! We are not as social as we should be. Shame on us!! We really should do better at this. This is another thing we are working to do more of. Most of the time, I go to work, she’s got the kids – I come home and we do our evening routines and then go to bed.
Stacy: It’s a hard season – but it’s something we have resolved to get better at.
Emily: How do you resolve conflict with little ones around?
Barry: She’s never wrong. Just kidding! We don’t fight often, and Annie is the only one who is old to enough to even catch on. We want the kids to see us as a unified team, but not perfect. People disagree. You should be able to argue your point at times. The goal is to disagree in a civil manner in front of them. If it becomes an issue we need to discuss later, we wait until they are asleep to finish the conversation.
Stacy: We have a rule that we can’t go to bed angry – so we are up late a lot chatting things out if there is a “fight” to be had.
Karen: “Help! How can my husband and I keep my four year old from coming in our bed at night?”
Stacy: This is kind of controversial, but we never allow the kids to be in our bed at night. If they need me in the night, I go to their room. If I have to sleep in their bed or on their floor for a little bit while they calm down and get back to sleep, then that’s what I do. That’s been something important to us from the beginning – we guard our marriage bed.
Barry: We’ve got 4 kids, and they are all unique in how they fall back to sleep at night. There is not an easy answer, because not every approach works for every kid or every parent. We just agreed from the beginning that we were not going to allow our kids to hang out in our bed all night. And we never compromised on that.
Brittany: “I know this is a Marriage Q & A, but do you each take time to be alone? Do you ever get away from the kids and each other and have just pure ‘me’ time?”
Barry: Rarely. I travel some for work. But I always miss them and am ready to come home. Generally speaking, I don’t feel like I need to get away. Working in my wood shop is probably my one place I go for time alone.
Stacy: I go and get my hair cut. LOL. Or I go grocery shopping. That’s about it!
Kristen: Are you two together from dinner to bed?
Barry: We’re together, but we’re together doing things that need to be done. That’s why Sunday nights are so special. Our normal routine doesn’t give us the opportunity to just sit down together and do nothing. At best, we’ll have a little bit of time before bed.
Stacy: We’re never in a room together alone during that time. He goes to work, but we run our business together. I work on it while he’s gone but then when he comes home, we work on it together.
Barbara: Do you know each others’ love language?
Cynthia: Do you give each other gifts, how do you budget for that and surprise each other?
Casey: How do you separate your work relationship from being a couple?
Stacy: This is really difficult! We enjoy work, so we don’t mind talking about it with each other.
Barry: We have to make sure that our conversation aren’t JUST about work. You can have your conversation and relationship consumed with work. If you work with your spouse, it can always be the two of you working – your business partner that you happen to sleep with. There are times and experiences that you need to take to be JUST a couple. We don’t do work when we have our Sunday night date nights. Even if the business fails, I want us to be married. Or even if it really succeeds, I want us to still be happy and together.