It can be challenging to find time to devote to building

your marriage. In this column I answer one of the many questions I've received

about how couples can overcome their challenges and strengthen their marriages.

How to find couple time

Question:

I'm wondering how couples can find quality time for intimate

moments, especially once they have children? I'm sure you're well aware that

with children "couple time" becomes very limited. You may tell me to

go get a babysitter, and perhaps I'm a little paranoid, but nowadays that seems

like a risky option. You hear more and more about things babysitters have done

while parents were out on a date, or what caregivers have done while parents

were at work. Basically, I'm curious to know how does one effectively juggle

all the demands in life, especially with children in the home, and still

maintain a healthy, loving and intimate spousal relationship.

Answer:

Finding quality time can certainly be a challenge with

children. The first step is making sure you see your marriage as a high

priority, deserving of priority time and attention. With that it will be easier

to find the time necessary for nourishing your marriage. Even though our lives

are all so busy we tend to find time for the things that are important to us.

Here are a few ideas for finding couple time:

Date night. I'm a big proponent of a weekly date night, but

I do understand the difficulties and expense of babysitters. Date night can be

something as simple as going for a walk around the block, or watching a movie

or reading a book together after the kids are in bed. Date night (dedicated

couple time) really cannot be optional for those who want to have a thriving

marriage.

Babysitters. While finding a babysitter can be challenging,

being active in a church environment, for instance, is a great way to find good

babysitters. Asking around to get referrals can also help alleviate some of the

concerns you may have. Although we no longer need a babysitter in our home, I

could easily recommend many good babysitters because of my interaction with

them at church. If you are really concerned, be prayerful about finding good

babysitters for your children. The Lord will provide.

Bedtime routines. Intimate time can be found by getting

children into a good bedtime routine, so that you still have time and energy

available for each other after kids are in bed. If your marriage is a priority

then you'll be able to find a way to make room for marital nourishment amongst

the nurturing of children.

Teaching children about couple time. Many couples have found

that by teaching their children about the importance of a husband and wife

having time together alone, their children accept the fact that sometimes Mom

and Dad's bedroom door will be locked. If we handle it wisely it can set a

valuable example of how to build a strong marriage and provide that deep sense

of security that comes when children know their parents love each other.

Setting your priorities. Remember the key is to set your

priorities and schedule your time and energy accordingly. For those who seek to

have a thriving marriage, a weekly date night is not optional. Schedule it and

hold to it as best you can. Date night is your predetermined night (or

morning — whatever works for you) for couple time. With a set day and time, you

both can mentally save some of your energy for each other and not let yourself

get consumed by other things.

Discuss solutions with your spouse. I'm confident that if

you and your spouse are serious about finding time for each other, and will

brainstorm ideas that would work best for you, that you'll be able to come up

with multiple options.

The number one thing parents can do for their children is to

give them parents who love each other. I applaud your efforts to find time for

your marriage even amidst the many demands of life. Investing time and energy

into our intimate marital relationship is one of the best things we can do for

each other and for our children. This flows over into building stronger

communities, countries and nations.

God bless you and your wife in your efforts to make each

other a priority and to build a strong and intimate relationship. It's well

worth the effort!