All parents run into this. They want to spend time with their kids. They want to spend time with their spouse. They want to have friends, hobbies and a life. Yet when you have kids, you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day.
Katie and I often get asked how to have energy for your spouse at the end of the day when your kids exhaust you. Here are some of our thoughts:
1. Evaluate your schedule. Why are you tired? Why do you feel like you and your spouse don’t have enough time with each other? How many activities are you running your kids to? Often the reason that you are too tired for your spouse is because of the season you are in; other times it is simply your fault. Many times we don’t put our spouse in our schedule. I realize how unromantic that sounds, but I say this all the time: You have all the time to do everything you want to do. And that includes time with your spouse. If you want to have time to be with them, put it in your calendar. Date nights don’t just happen. Conversations don’t just happen.
2. Decide ahead of time what the night will look like. At some point in the day, Katie and I will have a conversation in person, on the phone or over text that goes like this: “What do you want tonight to look like?”
This helps to set clear expectations for the night. Do you need time to talk, time alone, to watch TV, be quiet, take a walk? Is your spouse in the mood for sex? Having those conversations ahead of time helps to keep feelings from getting hurt.
The other side of this is that it helps you both to prepare. If you are tired but your spouse wants to talk or have sex, knowing that ahead of time helps you gear up for the evening.
3. Communicate to your kids your expectations for them. In the same way that you and your spouse need to be on the same page, you and your kids need to be on the same page. Your kids need to know that time as a couple is the most important thing in your family. Remember, one day your kids will move out, so your marriage matters more than your relationship with your kids. Make sure they know what the expectations are for the evening. This will take time, but it is crucial. One of the ways you create security for your kids is by communicating the security of your marriage.
4. Remove barriers. There are a lot of barriers to deepening your marriage relationship; some of them are ones you create, and others are ones that just happen. Many of the barriers that keep a couple from connecting has to do with electronics. I know some families put their phones in a basket at night or have a no electronics policy at dinner. Get rid of the things that are keeping you from connecting as a couple.