- Intrepid daters: Angela and her husband, Ryan
We’ve been married for nine years and together for 13. Our daughter, Lionelle, was born in 2008, and our son, Dashiell, followed in 2010. So we’ve now been married with kids twice as long as we were married without kids. And it shows.
Our daily life and conversations revolve around our children. Who’s bringing them to school? What time does she need to be picked up? Even a seemingly general, non-kid-specific question like “What should we have for dinner?” inevitably turns into a conversation about which veggies our kids have eaten this week and how much cinnamon toast is too much.
What we’re not talking about is how work’s been or what books we’re reading or ... whatever else couples talk about when they don’t have kids to discuss.
Can we keep our relationship healthy if it remains on the periphery of our child-centered world? The answer, I fear, is no. I’ve finally come to understand that if we’re not paying attention to the relationship that started it all, we’re doing it wrong.
Which is why we’re dating again. It’s not a silver bullet, but we’ve decided that carving time out just for us — the “us” that predates our adorable family — is essential to the vitality of our relationship.
This isn’t our first attempt to reinvigorate our marriage, but this time feels different. We’ve just made it through a particularly rough patch, and neither of us wishes to end up there again. It was dark. And I have no doubt that our kids picked up on it, which is unacceptable to me. We can do better.
We’ve come up with a set of simple rules to govern our dating. Does that sound like the antithesis of recapturing the spontaneity of youth? Sure. But I’ve learned to appreciate the freedom that is born from structure.