Advice for Young Parents: How to Speed Date Your Spouse

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“It’s important to spend time together, as a couple, without the kids.”
Her foot touched mine at 3:25 am just before she asked me to stop snoring; does that count?

Young Spouse

My 2013 New Year’s Resolution was to reconnect with my wife. ‘How’s that working out for you?’ Dr. Phil would ask.

About as well as my resolutions for previous years: ‘sputter’…’cough’…’backfire’.

Our relationship is fine, our kids are great, we like our friends, and we get enough sleep; but time alone with each other is not as high a priority as it probably should be.

Despite that, we have an active social life; it’s just always with other people.

I used to fret about us not having any quality one-on-one time, but now I realize we have loads of it; it just comes in three-minute spurts as opposed to one three-hour stretch.

Since the internet has really created a marvelous echo chamber in which we can all share wisdom and benefit from each other’s experiences, I feel it is my duty to pass along these Tips for Downgrading Your Expectations (or: How to Speed Date Your Spouse):

 

The following exchanges are now considered “quality” conversations:

  • Discussions through a closed bathroom door about what should be taken out of the freezer for supper.
  • A grunt acknowledging your presence from a spouse reading a newspaper. (If a question is asked, and only a grunt is given in response because your spouse isn’t really listening to you, the grunt can be taken as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, depending on which better suits your needs. Then, the argument “This morning you said you were OK with it.” can be freely used as a legitimate defense during supper. They weren’t listening this morning? Too bad for them.
  • “G’night.”

 

The following interactions now qualify as “intimacy”:

  • Touching your spouse’s shoulder while trying desperately to pry the kids off their back before they cause a spasm which will cost your spouse a sick day.
  • Pulling out one of your spouse’s grey hairs and holding it up as a sign of aging.
  • Rubbing in a circular motion an area of the scalp which has begun to go bald.
  • Touching hands during the natural motion of folding a sheet.
  • Holding hands during a brief scene of “The Walking Dead”; then pulling it back to reach for a chip.
  • And, yes, kicking as a method of snore-prevention.

 

How to hold a conversation 45 seconds at a time:

  • One topic per chore: the kids can be discussed until the dishes are washed; switch to family finances while the evening tea is steeping; talk about the kids again while searching for your show on the PVR; during the commercial you’re watching, because you forgot the show is recorded, remind each other of the phone calls you forgot to make and the emails you forgot to send; the kids can be discussed one more time as you make sure all the doors are locked before bedtime.
  • Unfortunately, any topics not covered during the previous point with undoubtedly be raised in bed, in the dark, with one of you half asleep. This sucks, but it for some reason has now become a legitimate time of day to discuss the most serious issues.

 

Finally: Understand things will get better once the kids are gone.

  • My kids are 8 and 6-years-old respectively. That means in about 625 weeks, my wife and I will have all the time in the world.

 

Gotta go. My wife just walked in the door and asked me something I didn’t quite catch ’cause I was typing. I grunted an acknowledgment. I think I just agreed to renovate the main bathroom.