When you have had something like an affair in your marriage, things take time to feel normal again. We went through a period of time where we talked in depth about our relationship every night and sent emails during the day to each other to reconnect. Slowly the need for relationship discussions subsided, but there was still some pain. For me, it was hard to look at photos of our life together. It seemed distance and unreal to see our vacation pictures or family photos.
So, we set about making new memories. The beautiful thing about both of us being determined to change our relationship was that we did still have connections. We were not completely starting over, but we needed the chance to create important events to remember and reshape our marriage: a chance to rebuild memories.
As children are in the mix, this can be challenging! Here are some things that we have found to be helpful in rebuilding and maintaining our relationship with one another, and our "dating" life:
Sometimes this is just an email that differs from the standard "What time will you be home?" or "Can you do this for me?" When it has been a longer stretch between date nights, we have found a kind, loving email that reminds one another we love each other and think about them when they are not right in front of us is a good way to signal the need for one on one time. It also helps to reconnect after dishonesty in a marriage to renew and freshen our "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways" talk!
The Spur of the Moment Movie or Dinner
Occasionally, I can pull off a quick exit for us. I like to try to give our sitters notice, but every now and then I can call them on a Saturday and we can get away for a few hours. It is amazing how much an unplanned outing can help us feel closer and cure cabin fever. My husband sometimes manages to surprise me as well! He usually gets home from work long after dinner, but from time to time he makes the effort to come home before I have cooked and take us all out to eat, or "trick" me into the car on the weekends for a surprise meal. With or without the kids, it is nice to have the illusion of spontaneity back for a moment!
We like TV, and there are some seasons where it seems we have a favorite show to watch every night. Sometimes watching shows together gets old, and we will just turn it off and listen to some music after the kids have gone to bed. It is nice to just sit and talk as we listen, or we play a game (Scrabble or Skip-Bo) and spend some time in our living room alone.
Pumpkin Pie Nights
Around the holidays, we have started a new tradition for us in the past year or so: Pumpkin Pie after the kids are in bed. One year we bought a few different kinds of frozen pie and tried them all to find a favorite. (Marie Calendar's is ours!) Then it is just a matter or having one in the freezer for a spontaneous Pie Night! I will put it in while I am cooking dinner so it has cooled down by the time the kids are in bed and we sit on the couch and eat pie together. It is nice to have a new "thing" for our relationship. We all need memories and traditions that are our own.
Late Night Calls
When we are not on the same schedule, it can make things feel crazy. After a long day with the kids, I just want to go to bed and after a long day at work, he needs more time to unwind. Sometimes I will call him and talk to him for a bit before I fall asleep! It seems silly, but the conversation often turns to how we are doing and we make plans for a date.