Any of us who have been married for a while know that marriage is not easy! I was actually just talking with my three teenage sons about this topic this week. I shared with them that the world will try to convince them that having casual relationships, sleeping around, or going from one partner or spouse to the next is easier and way more exciting than committing to a boring, lifeless marriage.
But the truth is, our marriages are sure to become boring and lifeless if we don’t work on them! And how can I encourage my children to wait for and fight for a godly marriage if my husband and I are not demonstrating a great example of one?
My eighteen-year-old marriage is far from perfect, but we are committed to working on it each and every day. We still have so long to go, but here are a few tips that I have in relation to keeping the romance alive even with three teenage sons and two younger daughters in the house.
Have one night a week as a date night
We don’t always have the time or money to go out, but we often get a favourite takeaway and watch a movie together. As our children are getting older, we are finding that our dinners are getting later and later! We do try to teach them, though, that when it is ‘our night’, their bed time is a bit earlier.
Teach and expect the children to respect a closed door
I found this one really hard at first. We live in a very small home, so finding a place of privacy is very difficult! My patient husband helped me to realise that there is nothing wrong with a husband and wife taking intimate time out together while the children are around. I was always a bit nervous about this idea at first, but our children NEVER open our door now when it is closed. It happens enough that they understand that it is an important time for their mum and dad to have together. That’s not to say that we haven’t been interrupted by children calling out to us or from fights or situations erupting from other parts of the house!
Show affection in public
I am sure we have all heard this piece of advice before, but it is too important not to mention here. My husband’s love language is physical touch, so it is easy for him to do this. It is not as natural for me, so I do have to make an effort. Little things like holding hands while walking, rubbing each other’s backs, or my sitting on his lap are easy to do on a regular basis. I think it’s also important for teenagers to see their parents give each other ‘real’ kisses. There is the potential to see plenty of this on TV shows and movies, so why not demonstrate it within the context for which God designed it!
Talk about special memories that you have had in your relationship, show photos
Our conversations with our children have the potential to develop into family traditions and family history. We all have our own special romantic stories from our dating, courtship or engagement days. Teenagers love to hear about these things! Sometimes it is hard for them to think of us as being young and in love. We can talk about our wonderful memories. We can show all our fun photos. Not only does this keep these amazing memories alive for us, but it teaches our children more about pure and godly romance!
Make the most of precious, unplanned moments
I prefer to follow my routine and be prepared and organised, but if I want my marriage to flourish, I need to make the most of incidental moments. Sometimes when I am tired and in the middle of preparing dinner, my husband will ask if I want to go for a walk around the block. Sometimes, he will be lying on the lounge watching the football and will ask me to sit with him for a snuggle. From time to time, he will suggest a quick trip to the local takeaway shop for a coffee. I could come up with a million excuses for why I can’t stop what I am doing, but it really takes so little time and effort to give myself to my husband in those precious, unplanned moments. Those spontaneous dates are often just what I needed, and my teenagers are seeing their parents enjoying time together.
Just today I was talking with a 75-year-old man about his life. When I asked him about his wife, he shook his head and told me that he had been married for 45 years to a woman who never stopped complaining. He said what a relief it was to finally divorce her. How tragic! Even though our lives as busy mothers and wives can try trying, we need to remember that it’s not easy for a man to provide for and lead a family either. We need to be always ready with a positive and encouraging word, a smile to welcome him home. After all, it was probably your passion for life and your beautiful smile that attracted your husband to you in the first place! What a great example this can be to our children!
Like anything that is worth having, our marriages are hard work! But marriage is precious and can be such a blessing not only to us, but to our children. Let’s daily take up the amazing challenge of modelling to our teenage children what a godly marriage looks like.