In light of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share how we celebrated out here on Bryarton Farm. Our dating has changed since we got married 5 years ago, but we are still dating. The biggest changes started when we decided to buy our little fixer upper farm. A cross country move from Georgia to Kansas, a big home renovation, and a new baby are just a few of the things vying for our attention right now. To make sure that our relationship stays strong throughout the ups and downs of our journey, we have had to make an intentional effort to find ways to keep the romance alive. Here are some practical ideas for the couple that wants to continue to grow in their marriage despite any changes or demands of life.
These are our top ten fun tips for keeping romance alive when everything seems to be pushing you apart. We have employed all of these both this Valentine’s and throughout our marriage.
1. Make Time
This one might sound a bit cliché, but it is so important that we have it first on the list. Your marriage should be a top priority. You only have time for the things you make time for. In other words, if your marriage is a big enough priority, you will find time for dating your spouse. Even if it is just a few intentional minutes a day or an evening a week it will make a big difference.
2. Turn OFF the Screens
This really goes right along with tip #1. Most people in our culture spend countless hours in front of screens (TV, tablet, phone, etc). Surely we can cut out a few of those hours a week for some romance. We have observed couples going on dates at nice restaurants and spending their entire date on their phones. These days grown men are choosing to spend the evening playing video games or watching sports rather than investing in their marriage. Grown women are obsessed with Pinterest or pursuing “relationships” on Facebook rather than investing in their marriage. Those things in themselves are not necessarily bad, we have to relax and recharge doing things we enjoy, just don’t say that you don’t have time for romance. You do.
3. Bedtime Babysitting
Tips 3-6 are ideas that we use to have a date night without leaving the farm. Babysitting has gotten very expensive with the going rate about $10 an hour per kid. In the country travel time makes it even more difficult and expensive. So, we have to either bring the baby along (not very romantic) or create the perfect date at home.
4. Create Atmosphere
Start preparing for your date at home right before you put the kids to bed. Have the kids help clean up the house and put away their toys. Then you and your spouse can create an intimate space for your date without the distraction of a messy house. For our Valentine’s-at-home date we made the living room feel special with candle light, soft music, and the removal of all other distractions. Really this stuff isn’t that hard, but makes a big difference (especially for your wife).
5. Dress Up
Why do you have to be leaving the house to dress up? To make the moment feel more formal we like to dress to impress. Michael may don a suit and tie, while I slip into a fancy dress, curl my hair, and do my makeup. This not only transforms us, but it transforms our living room. It is amazing how what you are wearing makes you feel. You can forget the day’s stress and dance to a Bublé song. Suddenly your husband remembers how to pull out your chair and kiss your hand. Things a T-shirt and sweat pants don’t conger.
6. Make Your Own Restaurant
One of our favorite restaurants is the one we pretend is in our living room. Set up a pretty little table for two with a surprise bouquet of roses. Hand-write your own menus with fancy names for what you’re serving. Bring out your best china and push the romantic atmosphere to the next level. You are never too old to play restaurant.
7. Hand-Made Gifts
When you are on a tight budget sometimes gifts for your spouse loose priority, but they don’t have to. Why not make each other something? There are so many cool ideas on Pinterest to help you out. Personally, I just love when my husband takes the time to make me a card and write a meaningful note in it.
8. Love Letters
Unlike cards, letters don’t have to be decorated; they just have to be from the heart. It is a fact that writing your feelings down on paper helps your articulate what you are truly feeling. Letters sometimes help you get out the types of vulnerable sentiments that are much more difficult to express in conversation. What your spouse reads there may get you both talking, or it may be all that needs to be said to touch their soul.
10. Dream Together
Sipping hot tea and talking about our dreams is a healthy habit we try to regularly practice. It keeps communication lines open and gives us a window into each other’s heart. Bryarton Farm is our shared dream. Pursuing it together makes us a team and gives us a common goal that we are working toward.
We do not claim to be marriage experts or psychologists. We are just a married couple struggling to keep love a part of our busy lives. As artists who have a passion for historic homes, good design, and creating beautiful spaces, our blog is an outlet for sharing our work. But Michael and I don’t just want our farmhouse to be like a showroom. It is the nest we are building together, and the backdrop for our lives. Bryarton Farm is a place that we love to be, so it seems natural that it has also become the place for romance to blossom.
Get a weekly dose of art, design, and the country life by subscribing to be a part of the Bryarton Farm blog family.