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Recently I was sitting in a group of women discussing motherhood and life and relationships. Topics ranged from baby sleep patterns to preteen drama to summer plans. Then I heard it – the familiar line that once was true for me many years ago.
“I feel like he’s my roommate” one young mom said referring to her husband. Another answered back “me too”. The hairs on my arm stood up, as it took me back 10 years when this described my relationship.
10 years ago we were new parents in the middle of raising two kids under two. After our first girl was born, I felt like I blinked and then our son was born. Those years are still a blur.
We were covered in baby poop and spit up. We lived on literally the other side of the world from every single one of our family members. I couldn’t remember the last time my husband and I went on a date, much less had a conversation that wasn’t centered around the kids. My husband was exhausted from working all day in a high volume Chiropractic office. I was exhausted from not having any time to myself and being needed every second of every day. While these precious gifts were indeed a blessing, I felt like they were driving a big wedge between our marriage.
My mother-in-law came for a visit in early 2014. She insisted my husband and I go on a weekend getaway and leave the kids. I panicked for about five minutes. My thoughts swirled – she’s flown to the other side of the world to see us, we can’t leave! There’s absolutely no way I want to spend a weekend with this man. I don’t even like him very much anymore! (I’m sure he felt the same about me) The babies are so little. I can’t leave them for a whole weekend.
But I knew we needed this. Our marriage needed a change. We couldn’t go on living like roommates who barely spoke to each other.
So we went on the trip.
We flew all the way across the country from where we lived in Queensland, Australia to Perth on the west coast. We ate at the fancy restaurants, got the couples massage, did the tours, went to the breweries. We had fun. Like before the kids fun – maybe even like when we were dating fun. Both our guards were down. We had amazing conversations. By the end of the trip, we fell in love again.
The trip was such a success that we made a promise to go on at least one overnight trip a year, going forward. Even though our family all lived in the US and we were in Australia, we would figure it out.
And we did figure it out. Now 16 years of marriage and 25 trips later (8 of those to different countries!), we are in such a good place. Thank you, Jesus. We live back in the States now, so that definitely makes it easier to go on a couple of kid-free trips a year!
While I want to say those exciting and fun kid-free trips are the secret sauce, I would say one thing made and even bigger impact – date nights.
When we returned home from our 2014 Perth trip, we made the decision to start investing in a sitter once a month, sometimes twice a month. Some nights our “fun money” was eaten up by the cost of the sitter and we weren’t able to spend money on the date. You don’t need to have a big budget to be able to date your spouse! Still, nine years later we are regularly going on dates! The investment of a good sitter every other week far outweighs not having this time together as a couple.
So if you’re feeling stuck or feeling like you are roommates instead of husband and wife, here are some ideas you might want to consider:
- Go to a marriage conference
- Staycation – spend the night in your town or a nearby town in a nice hotel or short term rental
- Go on an overnight trip to a city on your Bucket List
- Spend a day at the lake
- Spend a day floating the river
- Take a trip somewhere you can ride in a hot air balloon
- Go on a cruise
- Spend a weekend in a secluded cabin or in a condo with an ocean view
- Topgolf or mini golf
- Go out to eat at a romantic restaurant – somewhere you wouldn’t want to take the kids!
- If you’re in the DFW area, I have a couple of Instagram story highlights with DFW restaurant recommendations – DFW Food & DFW Food 2
- Take a cooking or painting class
- Go indoor rock climbing
- Go bowling
- Laugh together at a comedy show
- Freeze together on an ice skating adventure
- Spend the evening at a musical or play
- Cheer on your favorite sports team at a game
- Walk through a museum or art gallery
- Go restaurant hopping – apps at the first stop, dinner at the second, dessert at the last one
- Try your luck at an escape room
- Take it back to your childhood days and hold hands at the roller skating rink
Low budget date night
- Swap babysitting with a friend to save on the cost of a sitter
- Go for a drive around your neighborhood or through a nearby town
- Drive to a field and look at the stars
- Go on a walk; if the weather’s bad or your neighborhood isn’t the best for walking, go to an indoor shopping center to walk
- Go to Sonic and share a happy hour half price drink
- Test drive a car
- Get out in nature on a hike
- Play board games after the kids go to bed
- Go to a restaurant and just order dessert
- Have a movie night at home with blankets and pillows on the floor
- Try disc golf and bring a picnic lunch
- Take a swing at the batting cages
- Watch a YouTube dancing tutorial video together and try it out
- Head to your local park and fly a kite or swing on the swings
- If you’re working through some hard stuff in your marriage, seek out a counselor
- See if a local church offers marriage classes, like Journey Groups
- Love & Respect by Dr Emerson Eggerichs
- The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Relationship Goals Challenge by Michael Todd
- The Adventure Challenge, Couples Edition
- The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick
Marriage is hard work, daily. Along the way there’s been hurt, heartache, and things said out of anger on both sides. There’s been stubbornness, mostly me, and tears, also mostly me.
But God, rich in His mercy, somehow brought us to a place where we are so deeply in love with each other. The restoration didn’t happen over night. We often still have trials and challenges, but now there is joy, connection, and lots of laughter. Like belly ache and tears streaming down your face laughter.