Last week, I started swimming again with a friend of mine. Twice a week, we put our kids to bed and then meet at the pool to swim laps for 45-minutes before “boiling” ourselves in the hot tub.
Occasionally, we grab a quick coffee afterwards at McDonald’s (the only coffee shop in our small town open at that hour). We’re both excited to “get buff” (as my friend says). Having someone else to joke with and keep me accountable definitely helps me make it to the pool.
What does that have to do with marriage? After an hour and a half at the pool and chatting with my friend, I’m happy to come home to my husband. In fact, the ten-minute drive feels very long because I just want to come running in the door and yell, “Hey, honey, I’m home!” (Okay, I wouldn’t yell because that’d wake up the girls.)
Something about a night out and a bit of a break (and some good exercise-related hormones) gives me a new perspective on our relationship—a good perspective.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your marriage is to take some time for yourself. Loving selflessly and meeting his needs (and our kids’ needs too) is hard. And I think it’s okay to admit that. If you are in a difficult relationship, or have really young kids or children with special needs, then it can be even harder to keep loving. But you need to take care of yourself too so that you can take care of those around you.
Now, you may be able to nourish yourself just by taking a few minutes every day to read your Bible and pray. I have to stop to nurse Jade to sleep twice a day (naptime and bedtime), and that usually gives me fifteen or twenty minutes of reading (depending on how fast she falls asleep). Maybe the break is a monthly ladies’ night out or a bi-weekly visit to the gym or your weekly mom’s group. Or maybe it’s something bigger, like a weekend away at a conference/retreat or a girlfriend’s getaway.
I started this series by quoting a friend who loves to say “happy wife, happy life.” I’ve seen the truth of that this summer. Being back in school for four years, while giving me lots of time to myself, was stressful and hard on our marriage. I was being pulled in too many directions. Having the weight of school off my shoulders this summer has made a huge difference. I’ve enjoyed more time to spend with the girls—and with my husband.
When I was stressed out about everything I was trying to do it, it was easy to point fingers at him and to get angry. The problem wasn’t always what he was doing; often, it was what I was doing.
Having our own hobbies and some time apart can give us some perspective on our relationships—or just something new to talk about.
Friends of ours spent a three-day honeymoon in a big city in another province. On the second day, she went shopping at Ikea while he did something else. We were flabbergasted that they’d spend time apart on their honeymoon, but I’m starting to realize how smart they were. I’m sure they both had a great time—and were very excited to get back to each other and share what they’d done.
Another friend of mine was at home with health problems while her husband was pursing an online master’s degree. They could have both puttered around the house together, all day every day. Instead, he went out to Starbucks to study just so they could have some space and something to tell each other at the end of the day.
Every time I’ve gone away on a big trip, I’ve been really excited to go and even more excited to come home again. It’s fun to get away, but it makes me realize how much I miss my girls and my husband. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Ladies’ nights, rock climbing, and swimming also help me feel refreshed and more able to love my family.
How do you nourish yourself? What helps you be a happy wife?