Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Isn't FUN Anymore

Hubs and I enjoying an evening at the coffee shop we went to on our first date, 13 years ago

Recently I've started hosting a small group of women in my home one morning a week.  We come from all walks of life and backgrounds.  Some have been married less than a year, others are nearing their 30th anniversary.  Some are in the throes of child-rearing, others are staring at their empty nest and wondering what to do now.  We meet to eat (of course), chat (of course) and to read God's Word and challenge each other to continue to grow and learn.

Yesterday we changed it up a bit.  With Valentine's Day fast approaching, we chose to read a chapter from the book, 'A Wife After God's Own Heart' by Elizabeth George.  I've read this book before in Bible study settings, and I have to be honest, I struggle with alot of what she talks about.  She addresses many of the issues that arise in a marriage, and many of her suggestions feel counter-cultural to our norm.  I may struggle with her thoughts, but then again, our culture is boasting a 50% divorce rate, so maybe she's on to something...

Anyway, I digress.  Back to yesterday.  We read a chapter titled Making Time For Fun.  Yeah, I know.  What's fun, right?  When I was skimming through the book trying to decide what chapter to discuss I knew we had to do this one.  Because it's right where hubs and I are at right now.

That's probably not a huge shock.  I mean, we've got four kids.  A mortgage.  A job.  Debt.  Just... reality.  And there's nothing like a little reality to suck the fun out of anything, right?

The book encouraged us to think back to the early days of courtship, to remember the hours spent talking about nothing in particular, remember the feeling of never wanting to be apart, remember the fun that happened when there were no responsibilities, no realities pulling in different directions, nothing but the endless expanse of hope and love and romance.

Sigh.  Oh to have that back again.

So how do you reclaim that?  Whether you've been married 5 years or 50, chances are reality has sucked the fun out of your marriage at one point or another.  How do you stop that vacuum?  Here are a few suggestions made in the book and some that came up in our discussion yesterday:

1.  Plan one fun activity a week  This is a hard one, especially when you have little kids and an even littler budget.  At first glance I tend to think, "yeah, this isn't going to happen".  But as a lady in my home pointed out yesterday, it can happen with just a little forethought and planning.  One of my big downfalls is that I like hubs to dream up the "fun" thing we're going to do.  For some reason it means more to me if I don't have to tell him what I'd like to do.  Maybe it's a throw-back to the dating relationship when the guy always planned the date, I don't know.  Whatever the case, it's a pitfall for us because honestly hubs just doesn't have time to think up elaborate date nights anymore.  It doesn't mean he doesn't love me, it just means he's busy.  But sometimes even knowing that I can get resentful.  So here's the solution that I can't wait to try:  Create a date jar.  Every month sit down together and decide on a few activities that you would both enjoy and that your budget would allow.  Write each down on a piece of paper and put the papers in the jar.  Then, on your designated "date night", draw a date out of the jar and let serendipity decide.  I love this idea because the pressure is off to come up with something fun to do, and there's still an element of surprise.

2.  Choose a couple hobby  I think so often we focus on our own hobbies, things that allow us to escape from our realities.  But all too often our hobbies don't include each other.  Think back to when you were dating.  Tell me you didn't feign interest at some point in something your hubs (or wife) to be was interested in.  Well, stop pretending!  Taking an interest in something your spouse enjoys opens up a whole new world of conversations and common ground.  Or, if there's really nothing your spouse enjoys that you can get on board with, find a new hobby together.  It doesn't have to be anything major.    For example, hubs and I have recently discovered that we enjoy reading the same book at the same time.  We read the Twilight series together and I was amazed at the amount of new and fresh conversation that was born out of that.  And the deeper the book, the deeper the conversation.  It's a great way to learn new things about each other and to find things to talk about that don't include the words "kids", "diaper" and "poop".

3.  Cook together  I know this is not always an option.  With hubs' work schedule we are often not together at mealtime.  But when we are able to intersect, cooking together brings a surprising amount of intimacy.  Whoever said sex starts in the kitchen was not lying!  Now before you head to the gutter, just think about it.  Cooking requires a certain amount of timing and efficiency.  When you cook together, you have to communicate, you have to work together.  You have to be in sync.  That is intimacy.  And that leads to intimacy elsewhere.  Plus, if hubs burns the veggies you've got something to tease him about later.  You can even extend this intimacy to dishwashing.  Our dishwasher recently decided to stop cleaning dishes, so we've been washing alot of dishes by hand.  I've actually come to look forward to those times with hubs, washing and drying and talking.  Sometimes I think a potentially aggravating situation (ie, a dishwasher breaking) can create moments to connect on a whole new level.

4.  Don't wait until "date night" to connect  This was really profound for me.  In discussing this chapter with the women in my home, one woman who has been married nearly 30 years brought up this point.  And in thinking about it I realized how important it is.  We hear so much about taking time for your spouse, scheduling date nights and the importance of them.  But if you're not connecting on a daily basis, then once date night rolls around you are going to have nothing to talk about.  One lady in my group spoke of how she and her husband have a table that they meet at every morning and every evening.  They share coffee, read their Bibles, pray and discuss their days.  They begin and end every single day at that table.  Obviously, in the real world you can't spend every waking second with your spouse like you did when you were dating.  But I love this example of beginning and ending the day together.  What a awesome way to stay connected and involved in one another's lives.  I can't wait to try this in my own marriage.

So there you go.  Reclaim that fun, recapture that romance, reignite that passion!

My friends, are you fighting the fun vacuum?  Do you have ideas for finding fun again?  What do you do to keep things fresh?


Photobucket

8 comments:

  1. Great stuff. #1 and #3 have been really big in our relationship. However, I believe that #2 could through us into a tail spin :)

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  2. This is such a tough issue for me because with the hours my husband works it's just so hard to plan anything. Also, when he is home I hate to go off without the kids because they only get to see him for about twenty minutes a day before he goes to work in the morning. During the spring and summer we try to go to the beach a lot and that seems to help.

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  3. I wanted to say that I thought this was an awesome, awesome post!! I love that you shared what you are learning in your bible study. I struggled with the traditional wife stuff for years...I did a bible study called the excellent wife when I was newly married and it drove me crazy. I grew SO much though and that is what I love about the Lord. His grace is awesome isn't it!

    YEs, my hubby and I have let having a child suck a lot of our marriage quality "fun" out because we simply do not make time for each other the way we used to. We had date nights every single Friday night for nearly 6 years and loved it!! When Daisy was born it died cold turkey and hasn't come back since for various reasons, lack of childcare, money, etc.

    I will say that baths are fun...and I mean just to relax and unwind and talk together. I have always hated baths but, we have both found that we really loosen up in the steaming hot water. It's fun even if that is all we do! ;0. lol. We love watching shows together after the baby is in bed..but, it doesn't really seem to bond us much. So yah, great post and great reminder!!

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  4. From someone coming off of a failed marriage after 23 years, DO what the author suggests! All of those suggestions are excellent and not doing one, a few or all of the ideas WILL led to breakdown in a marriage. Sounds like you and Hubs are doing all the right things!

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  5. This is a great post! Life has a way of getting so busy that we really do have to make an effort to create fun time for ourselves and with our spouses. The book sounds great! That is really good that you started your group each week. It must be fun! Have a great night!

    Mama Hen

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  6. such a good post! married only three years and we're already thinking about this stuff. (busy with ministry and little kid...s doesn't help.) i love the date jar idea especially. thanks!!!!

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  7. Thanks for the follow! My husband and I have been married a year. We had a baby around 6 months ago and are struggling with fun activities. We are trying to recoop. Lol.

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  8. You know - I saw somewhere in the blogging world that although Valentine's Day has become a propogandist "holiday" for Kay's jewelers and 1-800-flowers, it is still nice to use this day to show your husband you love him. We never celebrate Valentine's day. But this year, I plan on surprising him with a few things. It will remind him for a few moments how much I love him and hopefully will make up for all the snide remarks I make!!! Our biggest obstacle is baby-sitting! We just can't find a sitter in the area. That could be because I refuse to pay one though!!! It's just not in our budget. We'll settle for movie dates and hand-holding every now and then :)

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