Today's post is part of "The Grove" - a link-up over at Velvet Ashes, where the theme this week was "Marriage Abroad". Head over there to read some great articles on the challenges and blessings of being married overseas!

There are so many things about having children that seem to sabotage a romantic relationship. Starting with pregnancy that brings changes in your body and unpredictable mood swings . . . then through the experience of childbirth and the dawning of overwhelming responsibilities and emotions . . . then sleepless nights and brain-fog days which after a year or two blur into toddler tantrums and potty-training woes . . . many women wake up one day to find that being a mom has completely crowded out any romantic relationship in their life.

How much more so when you are a mom overseas? Everyday life just takes longer, and you are supposed to be doing ministry on top of all your responsibilities as a mom. It's so easy to let your marriage take a back burner . . . your husband doesn't need you the way the kids do. There's nothing romantic to do anyway, right? I mean, who feels like candlelight and cuddling when it's 105 degrees in the house?!

But it doesn't work that way, and one day we will find ourselves married to a stranger. Maybe our marriage will survive and maybe it won't. Let's not go there. Instead, let's talk about the key to staying in love even in the crazy, busy, messy days of motherhood on the field.

Be intentional.

No relationship just "happens". It takes work to keep romance alive. When we are dating, or as newly-weds, we are putting a lot into our relationship, but it doesn't feel like work. Spending time together and doing special things for each other comes naturally and easily. But as other responsibilities overtake your life, it is so easy for romance to be crowded out.

Don't. Let. It. Make a choice to keep your husband a top priority in your life. What are some ways you can do that?

1) Use the little moments you have. Long evenings curled up on the couch together, or leisurely Saturday mornings, are a thing of the past. I get that! So now you have to make the little moments count. Snatch kisses whenever you pass each other. Smile at him when he walks into the room. Sneak up behind him when he doesn't expect it and whisper sweet talk in his ear. Send him a text on his lunch break to say "I love you." None of these things take planning, but they keep the spark alive between you.

2) Have regular connection times. You can't have a relationship without communication, but communication doesn't happen naturally when you have a busy schedule and so many others vying for your attention. You have to be intentional about taking time to talk. Put it in your schedule and make it happen. That can mean finding a babysitter and taking a date night, or it can mean sitting down with a quart of ice cream after the baby is sleeping.

3) Don't just talk, listen. This goes along with #2. I don't know about you, but I tend to store up all my emotions and questions and problems, and then when I finally get a chance I DUMP them all in one huge pile and want my man to give me all the sympathy, understanding, answers and solutions that I need. If he manages to give me the right responses, I'm happy and our "communication" is over. Or NOT! I am finally realizing that even though he doesn't feel the need to dump on me (like I do!) and even though he doesn't love to talk (like I do!) it is just as important for my husband to have time and space to communicate his needs, dreams, problems, and emotions. Communication is a two-way street. Be intentional about listening to your man.

4) Make intimacy happen. This can be a big frustration for couples. As a mom, we are tired, our bodies are not our own, we may be interrupted by the baby crying, we don't feel desirable. Living overseas, we're stressed out, we're exhausted, it's too hot, there's not enough privacy. The reasons are endless, and valid, but the fact is - you both need intimacy. It's another way of intentionally connecting that will keep your relationship alive. Be creative, don't get stuck in a rut. Make sure intimacy happens, try to get in the mood, and even initiate it sometimes!

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So there's just a few of my ideas for being intentional in our marriages to keep the romance alive. What would you add to the list?

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  • All such good advice, Melissa! So practical and real.

    Along the line of listening to your man, I think we as wives have to also ALLOW our husbands to feel what they are feeling. Sometimes we don't want to hear the negative feelings, because we don't want him to feel like that. But that just forces him to stuff his emotions.

    Again, great thoughts. So glad you linked up!

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  • YES! So true, Danielle! I have found myself reacting to his emotions and needs in ways that I didn't even realize were hurting him and causing him to shut down.

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