Marriage in the Little People Years

On Sunday, I drove to Ohio to celebrate my grandparent’s 62nd wedding anniversary.

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62 years!

When I think of all that Justin and I have gone through together in our 6 years of marriage, I can’t even imagine what we’ll feel when we’ve been married 10 times that long!

In 56 years, I hope I’m like my grandparents and celebrating our 62nd anniversary surrounded by our kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids. We have so much life left to live and I’m excited for all of it. Right now, Justin and I are in the thick of the “Little People Years.” We’re not just Justin and Sarah anymore, we are also Dad and Mom. These Little People Years are such a fleeting time in the grand scheme of our lives, but they can be challenging years. They can seem long and hard. Our kids are so young and need us for so much. And in these years, it can be so so easy to focus on the kids instead of one another. But these little people are here today because Justin and I fell in love first. They are here because we decided to commit to one another and spend our lives together. I cherish my marriage, and I’m thankful for all the growth we have had as a couple in the last 6.5 years, but I want to keep growing, connecting, and strengthening our relationship.

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As I previously wrote in this post, our marriage is the foundation for our children’s lives. It’s important that we keep our marriage and one another a priority. That can be hard to do in these Little People Years, but it’s so very important. Today I thought I’d share some of the little ways that we stay connected in these demanding years. They’re just some of the ways that work for us personally – I encourage you to find what works for you, even if it’s not the same things that work for us!

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A Year of Us book

There are days when Justin and I just naturally talk and connect in the evenings, and then there are days when we’re both just so exhausted from our individual days and kids that once the kids are asleep we both just basically become zombies on the couch and barely say two words to each other. I bought this book on Amazon because I thought it looked like a fun way to be intentional about still connecting on days where we’re too tired to come up with anything and don’t want to just scroll our phones or mindlessly watch TV the entire evening. The prompts are all over the place, and sometimes we don’t even know how to answer them but they always have led to good conversation. Sometimes we only talk for 5-10 minutes, other times it’s sparked a 30+ minute discussion. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and silly discussion, other times it’s deep and meaningful. We don’t do one every day, but I do feel like it’s been a great way to be more intentional about connecting in the evenings!

Little words = Big difference

Don’t underestimate the power of a few sincere words. It is so meaningful to me when Justin just writes a quick note saying how much he appreciates and loves me and leaves it somewhere for me to find. Several years ago we purchased some window crayons to decorate a friend’s getaway car at their wedding, and we still have the crayons. Every once in a while I’ll use them to write a little note on Justin’s bathroom mirror as a fun, silly way to tell him I love him. It doesn’t have to be a big, grand gesture – even a sincere text of appreciation for something they did or just to say ‘I love you’ can be a huge boost to the other person. Over time, all these small efforts have made a big difference in developing and strengthening our relationship.

And while we’re on the subject – it’s always nice to say thank you but I think it’s imperative to say it during the Little People Years. You are both stretched thinner and doing more. Little ones are very needy and demanding on your time and energy.  It’s easy for all the focus to go to the little ones and leave very little room to focus on each other. Noticing and appreciating your partner’s efforts is such a nice way to communicate that you see him or her too.

Can’t leave the house? Date in a ‘different’ spot

Life with kids is very routine based. Our evenings especially have a pretty straightforward pattern: Justin comes home from work, we have some family time, eat dinner, have a little playtime, and then he takes LJ for bath/books/song/bedtime and I take Vi for feeding/swaddling/bedtime. We get into a daily rhythm and it works really well for my kids. But what is a wonderful routine for my children can feel like a rut in my adult life. Anytime I’m feeling like we’re in a little bit of a rut, just a small switch-up in routine feels like a big change. In the summer, this might mean eating dinner on the patio (bonus if we can hold off on our own dinner until the kids are asleep and then eat together out there) or taking a glass of wine out on the porch swing after the kids are asleep.  Or instead of hanging out on the couch in our living room, we sometimes have a “basement date” where we watch a movie in our basement. It’s literally the exact same activity – sitting on the couch watching TV – but because we’re in a different place from our usual, it feels like a special little date.

Get creative with babysitters

It can be hard to actually go and have a date sans kids. It not only requires finding an evening that works for you both, but then finding someone to watch the kids and it can get expensive when you add up the cost of dinner/movie tickets/admission to a concert/whatever activity you’re doing plus the cost of a babysitter. My parents are willing to help, but they live out of town so it’s not always possible for them to drive in and watch the kids for us. In this blog post, I talked about some of the ways we have found to lessen the cost of babysitters, whether through swapping watching each others’ kids with another couple (or multiple couples) or sharing a babysitter and splitting the cost.

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Personally, I’m pretty excited to see where Justin and I are in 56 more years. But I don’t want to wish this time away in the meantime – I plan to fully enjoy the journey. 🙂

What little things help you feel connected to your partner?

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