Aug 27, 2021
Full Disclosure: we do not have kids. We do not pretend to understand all the chaos that comes with preparing for a new school year. However, having a youth ministry background does give us some insights into the rhythms a new school year brings, and our marriage coaching experience gives us a unique perspective on ways you can hack the "school's in session" realities to benefit your marriage.
All transitions and new seasons give us opportunity to do something different or be more intentional with parts and pieces of our lives. You may have heard us say it before and we will absolutely say it again because we believe these natural transitions in life provide opportunity...these transitions provide opportunity for everything to come crashing down around us, and they provide opportunity to recalibrate and move forward toward a more meaningful existence. I guess they also provide opportunity for us to miss the chance to adjust, invest, and be more intentional while continuing to go through the motions. Don't let that be you. Don't let your marriage do more of the same or worse, unravel in the midst of chaos.
Here are 6 ways you can be intentional in your marriage in the midst of the new school year chaos...
1. Let The Rhythm Take You Over...Bailamos
This 1998 pop hit (yes, I used the interwebs for realease date) from Enrique Iglesias is more than an ear worm, it's an invitation to embrace the rhythms of a new school year. New and regular schedules often hit us hard at first, but as we settle into these new rhythms, we have the chance to build in and schedule more regular conversations with our spouse and family. Take this time to set 1 day/night per week for a check-in. Consider what it would look like for you to leverage the time your kids are doing homework, practicing their instrument, auditioning for the play/musical, or heading to practice for their sport of choice. This time can easily slip through our hands as we scroll insta/facebook, check email, or catch up on Netflix shows. Not this year! Plan ahead and put some time on the calendar for getting and staying on the same page. The fall is the time to get out of your seats and embrace the rhythms...Let's dance.
2. Back to School Shopping
There is something exciting about getting a new wardrobe and picking out the perfect first day outfit. Why? We want to dress to impress and still have some room to express ourselves. The good news is, we can do this as adults too. Set aside some time and money to buy yourself something new. A new shirt, new kicks, or even a new haircut/hair style can help you feel a little refreshed and invite your spouse to take note. How long has it been since you gave or received a compliment like "Those pants though!" or "I think that might be my new favorite outfit on you." Part of that is on the person not giving the compliments; but to be fair, if we are wearing the same old thing every day, never getting out of your pj's while working from home, or somehow ending up in sweats and t-shirt within 5 min of getting home from work, you have some responsibility here, as well. Give yourself a confidence boost and shake your marriage up a bit with something new.
3. Family Dinners (and not the microwave kind)
I remember hearing my parents talk about the times moving too fast and "kids these days" being too busy; but nevertheless, they always found time for family dinner. No matter how busy we were and no matter how many different directions each of us was going, they made it a point to schedule family dinner at least once per week. Most of the time it happened on Sunday because it was the only evening we were all at home and had potential to be sitting still long enough for dinner before we started the homework we had been procrastinating on doing all weekend long. It may not be as easy to schedule something for the same day each week, and it may not even be possible every week, but this habit of sitting down and talking face to face is life giving to a couple and a family. A few tips we have found make the experience of making and eating together better are...
4. Have You Done Your Homework?
The dreaded "Have you done your homework?" battle between parents and kids is exhausting. Let me be clear, we are not trying to assign you homework. However, if your kids are busy doing homework, why not also use that time to invest in your marriage? We spend on average 21,420 hours in school learning and preparing for our career. Most couples spend on average 0 hours reading, listening, or watching videos learning and preparing for an ongoing meaningful marriage. We are obviously partial to our full video course and our mini-video courses (each convo from our full course sold separately), but honestly we don't care what you do...just do something. If you are at a loss for what to do, here is an "Investing in Your Marriage Starter Pack":
5. Take Full Advantage of The Carpool Lane
Marriage success is a team sport. Not just within your own marriage, but within your circle of friends. We are 100% in support of normalizing carpooling so that couples can have time together on the weeks they are not driving. This concept doesn't have to stop with the mini-van. You can pool resources and hire a sitter or two to watch a group of kids while you have date nights, and you can rotate sleepovers at each other's houses so that the couple without a pile of kids in sleeping bags crashing on the couch can have a date night (while wearing those new pants). Yes, this takes some coordination of ALL the things and people, but you already lead team meetings at work, do the laundry, keep everybody fed, and figure out a way to get away from Spring Break...you can do this.
6. Will You Go Out With Me? (circle yes/no)
Can we have a moment of silence for the butterflies we no longer feel? If you want to add some (even the smallest bit) of excitement back into your relationship, you have to go on a date. Not just a "go out to dinner and order the same thing you always order" kind of date, but the kind of date that one of you carefully plans, includes something special or nostalgic, and ends with clothes on the floor. Back to school season proves that you have partaken in the activities necessary to create a tiny version of yourselves, but after awhile we start having basic "I guess we can" sex or "pajama and bad breath" sex. It's okay that things aren't always mind blowing or rom-com headboard banging experiences, but it is important to provide opportunities for those warm fuzzies, middle school crush giggles, and the catch each other's eyes from across the room looks.
The moral of the story is that Back to School season is here and there is nothing we can do about it. Ultimately, you can't change the weather either...but you can plan ahead, dress appropriately, and learn to dance in the rain! Instead of swimming against the current (unless you are training for a triathlon), embrace the changing of the seasons and use it to create your roadmap to a meaningful marriage. You deserve it and the world needs more of it, and if nothing else, do it for your kids!