Guarding Your Marriage

Written by contributor Kris Bales, of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

So, why am I talking about marriage on a homeschooling blog? Because, in the last couple of years, I’ve seen the marriages of several fellow homeschooling families end in divorce.  Now, don’t misunderstand — I’m not saying that these couples didn’t take steps to guard their marriages. It’s just that seeing the fallout of divorce tends to strengthen my resolve to hold tight to what I have.

It’s easy, as a homeschooling mom, to fall into the trap of giving the best part of your time to your kids. By the time you’ve schooled all day, cooked the meals, done the laundry, cleaned the house, run the errands, and everything else that goes into managing a household, there can be little energy left for investing in your marriage.

It’s so important, however, that we do make that time. So, how do we invest in our marriages?

Read for Inspiration

Some of my favorite books on marriage are:

  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. How you feel and show love may be completely different from the way your spouse perceives it. The best way to show your spouse how much you love him is by speaking his love language. My husband and I are polar opposites in this regard, so it’s important that my efforts to show him my love are meaningful to him.
  • Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll. I’ll be honest – I just started reading this one last week, so I’m not finished with it yet, but it offers such great, practical, Biblical advice and answers all those tough, embarrassing questions that you probably wouldn’t ask your pastor.
  • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. What better way to love your husband than to pray for him? Stormie Omartian’s book covers a variety of different ways to pray for your husband (or wife – she has a book for husbands, too). This book is set up in a chapter-a-day format, so you can pray a different prayer for your husband each day of the month, if you’d like.
  • The Power of a Positive Wife by Karol Ladd. I often tell my kids, “The only person you’re responsible for is you.” That kind of describes the premise behind this book – if you focus on being more positive, you can often change the tone of your home and your marriage.

Spend Time Together

It’s so important that we spend time – both quality and quantity – with each other…even if it requires scheduling time with your spouse.

Weekly in-house dates

No matter what your children’s age, if they’re still at home, it can be difficult to get out of the house alone together, but in-house dates can be almost as much fun. Order the kids pizza and put them to bed early or, if they’re older, send them to another part of the house with a movie or some video games.

Once the kids are fed, enjoy a nice meal with your spouse. Then, go to your bedroom, hang the “do not disturb” sign and just enjoy some time together. Watch a movie or a favorite TV show, play cards, give each other back rubs, just talk…or, you know, whatever.

Photo by Learning Lark

Monthly date nights

At least once a month, get a baby-sitter, leave an older sibling in charge, or farm the kids out for sleepovers. (Family or close friends with whom you can swap sleepover nights can come in very handy here.)  Dress up and go out for dinner and a movie, dinner and dancing, a romantic stroll…whatever the two of you enjoy.

It helps to look at your calendar at the beginning of the month and go ahead and plan a day.

Yearly get-aways

Try to get away as a couple at least once a year, even if it’s just a night or two. Last summer, my husband and I went on vacation alone together for the first time in years. While we missed the kids, it was heavenly to be just a couple for a week instead of the parents. We reconnected and found out that we do still have things in common and enjoy one another’s company.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I won tickets to a weekend marriage conference. One of the things that the speaker advised the audience was to attend at least one marriage conference a year, even if you didn’t feel like you needed it.

We haven’t heeded that advice as well as I’d like to report that we have, but we do go to marriage conferences as often as we can. No matter how long we’ve been married or how close we feel, we always come home from the conferences feeling more connected and sharing a better understanding of each other.

Your marriage is the core of your family, even for those of you living in a blended family. My mom and step-dad’s commitment to each other, even through the hard times, shaped my view of marriage as an adult. You and your spouse are teaching your kids how to love their future spouses. Let them see you love each other fully and deeply.

In what ways do you and your spouse invest in your marriage?

About Kris

Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of over 25 years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she's old and alone.


  1. “You and your spouse are teaching your kids how to love their future spouses. Let them see you love each other fully and deeply.”

    YES to this!!

    (My husband and I are currently planning on first getaway in three years!)
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: My Thoughts on the Kindle, One Month In

    • Have fun! Last summer, my husband and I went on our first vacation alone in over 13 years. It was wonderful!
      Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’s latest post: God’s Instruction Book

    • We actually purposefully spaced our last 2 children apart just so we could get some “away” time for an extended period for the first time in years and years of pregnancy and nursing (much of it simultaneous). It was worth the delay of the next child by a few months to celebrate *ahem* 11 years of wonderful marriage. For those who are in the first 5-7 years, those felt the hardest for us. All of the children were so small and we were still figuring out how to not go nuts in marriage and really love each other. We passed a milestone in year 8 and things have been so sweet since then. God is good to have designed such a beautiful relationship, when we stick it out and love each other well!

  2. Good words! Thanks for the reminder.
    Heidi’s latest post: Homeschool Transcripts for Transfer

  3. Since our first year of marriage my husband and I have gone to my best friends cottage in the fall for a weekend. Even after the kids came we felt we needed to continue this for our sake and theirs. We needed the time away. It’s been 15 years now and we are making plans for next fall.

  4. Our kids are recently old enough that we don’t feel bad leaving them in the care of their 2 oldest siblings so that we can have a monthly date night. Sometimes this is a rather elaborate, planned, affair, but usually just a night out for dinner and ice cream and lots and lots of talk. Although we communicate well, as parents we often have little time for undivided attention. Our date night lets us really give each other the attention we deserve.
    Also, although our kids will always be part of our lives, most of us will be couples again at one point. It’s a good idea to practice now for what our future holds! I know many couples whose lives have fallen apart after the kids left home because they had nothing in common anymore.
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: Healthy Homeschooling: Why Whole Foods are Important, and How to Get Your Kids to Eat Them

  5. One thing that I feel married couples do is forget who they were before the children were born.

    My husband and I spin dreams and goals with each other. It always gives us something to be excited about accomplishing together. this also gives us opportunity to walk side by side.

  6. I made it a goal this year to make sure that we have 52 dates. They won’t all be out of the house, but so far, we’ve been able to go out alone together every week. It has been fun!
    Erin’s latest post: Clutch Day: a crucial part of my love story

  7. My husband and I married VERY young. I think one thing that has contributed to our success so far (30 years!) is that for the first 15 or so years, we did go on an annual marriage retreat with our denomination’s state retreat. It taught us so much about marriage when he and I came from messed up homes.
    I also love the other ideas you shared above. I believe we have to get intentional with it, or else life gets in the way!
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom’s latest post: Are we stressing out our kids?

  8. Inspiring post to read this morning. Another great book is Sacred Marriage. One of the biggest things we do for our marriage is being friends. One way we do this is taking an interest in what my spouse is interested in. I probably would not see as many movies or know as much as I do about animation but it is my husbands passion and job so I make an effort to share it with him.
    Andrea’s latest post: Felt Flower Clips

  9. Well said. I’m so glad that you wrote this post, very inspiring. I just finished the Real Marriage book, and I loved it.
    Dawn’s latest post: Pinning it Down {6} Bedroom Make-over

  10. I recently came across this book and think it is an amazing read for married couples: The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

  11. YES!!! Couldn’t agree more. Last year my husband and I went on our first overnight for our 4th anniversary. It was so incredibly refreshing that we decided that it would be a yearly thing no matter what. On our 5th we had to take the nursing babe, but it was still amazing. The baby mostly slept and we weren’t being interrupted every few minutes or cutting up food, etc.

    Love this quote: “You and your spouse are teaching your kids how to love their future spouses.”
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Encouraging Our Children to be Life-Long Learners

  12. I think the biggest thing my husband and I have learned in 10.5 years of marriage is to be considerate of each other. It’s so easy and predictable to start taking each other for granted once you have been together for a while. Also, keep things in perspective. I little disagreement doesn’t need to fester for days. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. Also, taking into account each other’s opinions is a valuable practice. It’s so easy to think that the way you want something done (or a child disciplined, or whatever!) is the right/best way. But, chances are, your spouse is a pretty smart person who has reasons for what he does, and you should trust him.

  13. Amen – Great post!! My husband and I are actually going to a couple’s retreat next week and I can’t wait!! We go every year also and it is so worth it. Looking at it as an investment instead of an “extra expense” is a huge help. Budget for it every year.

  14. We do all of these things, too, and I have encouraged many a girlfriend to do the same as it’s been such a blessing to us. My thought is we are wives first, mothers second (although it often seems to be the opposite) and if we have a strong marriage, that will trickle down into our parenting. We have made those three things–the yearly vacation, the in home date nights (weekly) and out o fhome date nights (monthly) a huge priority. I’ve even read a couple of those books, too! 🙂 It is NEVER ‘wasted time or money’, even if things are tight. I’m so glad you wrote about this topic! I am very passionate about it, too! And how funny, I just mentioned going to a marriage retreat this year because we’ve never been, now I am putting the one I know about ON the calendar 🙂
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Pocket Poem

  15. Since we’re in the ministry, one of the biggest things we’ve learned to do to guard our marriage is to set up boundaries. My husband can’t be married to the church and me at the same time. He works very hard while he’s at the office and visiting people but when he’s at home he works very hard not to work. He turns his phone on silent and only checks it every once in a while in case of a true emergency. And we try not to talk incessantly about church stuff (which can be hard since we both have ministry degrees and love to talk church). He’s made it clear in each position he’s held that his family comes first.
    Steph’s latest post: Reach Out

  16. mary bullock says:

    how do i find a marriage conference? i havent heard of any through my church or moms group? i live in south west michigan

  17. Wonderful reminders. My husband is a middle school teacher (we homeschool our own kids) and regularly sees the impact of divorce on children. We need to not lose eachother in the process of raising our family.
    Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: Angry Parenting

    • I’m adding late to the conversation but am excited: my husband and I just booked spots for a spring marriage conference in a beautiful location – two nights alone (first time in almost 18 years). A bunch of couples from our church are attending. Kind of expensive but I think it is going to be fabulous. And maybe we’ll play hooky from parts of the conference to just be together.
      Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: Angry Parenting

  18. These are great ideas, Kris. We are so fortunate to have a local church that does a monthly Skippin Out! time where parents can drop off their kids for a few hours. My husband and I have a regular date with another couple, and we love the grown up time.

    I’d also add Love & Respect to your list of books. It was quite good for us.
    Tara’s latest post: AboutOne on the road:

  19. I have been trying for years to do a weekly date night with my husband but can’t seem to get him away from the computer/video games – ever. I don’t know if a marraige can be saved if only one person invests anything. In almost 8 years I feel like he has been pushing me out more and more and Call of Duty or whatver current game has taken my place. Not sure if any of your resources or books can help me but it’s worth a try.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s latest post: The Science of Home Management or In Which I Reveal My Geekiness

  20. I am the mom of 5 kids born within 3 years of each other. I’d love to say that we go out monthly, but it’s usually yearly.

    We have no supportive family around, and our friends scatter in all directions when we ask. It’s a LOT to ask of anyone…babysitting 5 small kids. They have family who watch their kids, they don’t need a co-op of babysitters.

    We have a child with a chronic illness that requires dangerous medication that is to be given only by a responsible adult….an overdose could kill, and an under dose could be almost as bad.

    My heart is sad that those of us who don’t “date” are often looked at as not trying hard enough. The truth is that after 7 years of rejection…we’ve learned to make our time alone, at home, count.

    Someday, we will be able to go out as often as we want. Unlimited date time…I suspect that we will LONG for the days when we couldn’t.

  21. I’d love to recommend another book as well. Our homeschool co-op was started by a couple and she has recently became an author. Their mission is to encourage families and couples in their homeschool journey. Heidi’s first book a few years ago was “The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance”! They have a real heart for the homeschool family.

  22. Thank you so much for this timely article! My husband and I are definitely guilty of not making our relationship a priority of late. With financial struggles on top of the daily grind, we have neglected to nurture our marriage as much as we should. My hubby is reading The 5 Love Languages, and I am next, and though real dates are “out” for now, because of lack of money and babysitters, we did actually sit on the couch last night and watch a TV episode and share some ice cream! Thank you for the reminder to try harder and not let “us” go by the wayside. 🙂
    Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site’s latest post: How Yoga Can Help Your Baby or Toddler Sleep

  23. Sara Steele says:

    Wondering if anyone does “dinner and dancing” as mentioned in the article? How do you do it? At a bar? Night clubs? I just can’t imagine how we could pull it off. Even though I think it would be great!

  24. Last year I went through a study of the book Cherish by Gary Thomas. So good!! One of my take-aways was to kiss your spouse everyday, a REAL kiss., like for 15 seconds. We’ve gotten out of the habit recently, and this is a great nudge to pick it up again. We didn’t actually watch a clock, but instead we made a point of getting lost in a kiss at least once daily. The simplest thing, with amazing results.
    6intow’s latest post: Really back

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