When Scott and I married, I envisioned us spending hours gazing into each other’s eyes, going for long walks, making love every Saturday morning and having uninterrupted conversations about profound subjects such as theology, Creation and whether the Cubs would finally win the World Series. We’d face the world, start our new life together, just the two of us . . . and his daughter.
Although I knew I was gaining an instant family, I never considered how that was going to affect my marriage. I guess I assumed she would be there, but not really there. Oh, to be young and naïve.
Instant-family couples aren’t afforded the same luxuries as first-time married couples. We don’t have hours to spend lounging in each other’s arms. We don’t get privacy or generous amounts of uninterrupted time together like pre-kid couples do.
Marriage is already a big adjustment; add children to the mix, and it can feel overwhelming.
So how do we protect, enjoy and grow our marriage amid the demands of blending a family? Here are a few quick and easy ideas.
As we tend to our children’s needs, we can all too easily overlook the person we chose to love, honor and cherish. So to help you remember your beloved, every day say, “One of the many things I love about you is . . .” Offer a character trait or something that connects you and your spouse. Scott and I have practiced this in our marriage, and it’s been amazing what a difference it’s made. Especially when we argue, those statements remind us that we’re on the same team.
Pray together daily. It’s one of the most intimate things you can do together. Scott and I do our best to pray for each other and our family every morning before we get out of bed. I always notice a difference in our relationship on the days we pray together versus the days we rush out of bed. Prayer draws us back to who we are in Christ and who He desires us to be as a couple.
Get alone together. You need time to reconnect with each other. Take it. Guard it. One couple I know takes 15 minutes between the time they get home from work and the time they eat supper as a family. Their kids know not to disrupt them. “Those 15 minutes are our lifeline as a couple,” my friend says.
In addition to these daily moments of connection, carve out time for a date night on a regular basis. Life gets busy, but it’s good to get a baby sitter and set aside a few hours to disengage from home life and re-engage with each other.
Finally, remember that blending a family is tough work. You and your spouse need to be a team, devoted to one another and sustained in your marriage through time together. Often it’s the little moments that give you the foundation to move forward in strength.Ginger Kolbaba is the author of Surprised by Remarriage.