Swimming lessons, gymnastics, reading, Young Women, basketball, Scouting, piano lessons, Church activities—believe it or not, we did them all! Larry and I firmly believed that our four children should learn new skills and that we should be involved in their activities. We were careful to hold daily family prayer and enjoyed many other family activities. Larry had a regular “date” night when he would take one of the children on an outing. Larry baby-sat when I was involved in my Church calling. All in all, we had an active, demanding family life.
Somewhere along the way, when I was chauffeuring our daughter to one activity while Larry was taking a son to another, we realized that all was not quite right. We were doing too much. We were committed to our children—we wanted to be great parents—but we were missing something just as important. Where was the extra time or a spare weekend for Larry and me—just the two of us?
As we examined our lives, we realized that what we thought was a strength was actually a weakness: there was much time for our children, but very little for ourselves. Our prayers, for instance, always focused on the children, and our activities always included the children. We realized that we had not had time away together since our first child was born. Though we were trying to be devoted parents, we knew that our efforts would backfire if our marriage was weak.
So we quickly arranged to trade baby-sitting with another family and took a short getaway. Though we traveled only sixty miles and had just one night and one day together, the benefits were tremendous. Larry and I talked about everything—our goals, our work, our successes and milestones, our problems. We learned that the incessant demands of daily life had preempted much of what we used to talk about. On our return, we discovered that the children, too, had benefited from their short vacation from us.
After that, we worked to more reasonably balance time for the children and time for Larry and me. How painful it was to review our involvement with the children’s activities and decide what to drop! With more open time, one of the first things we did was to start dating each other again. As we’ve worked ourselves back into our lives, we’ve discovered that the children have not suffered. In fact, I think they’re happier now because Larry and I are happier—and more rested.