Helmut and I are focusing on each other more. We found that last year, we just didn't connect enough. Yes, we were in the same house with each other most evenings, and worked together every day, 10 feet away from each other, from September on, but it doesn't mean we were actually focusing on each other. I think it's important to do in a normal marriage, but when you're in your second marriage, in a blended family, with children between the ages of 3 and 21, with all kinds of activities, it's even more important. There's a reason second marriages have an 85% divorce rate.
We're in love with each other; we love our kids. That should be enough. But it isn't.
What is almost enough is the fact that we are committed to each other. I can tell you now that if we weren't, we would have split up last year. To be honest, we almost did. Twice. The things we've been through together aren't worth doing for/with someone you aren't committed to. They were hardly worth doing/going through at all; irregardless of committment.
We are committed to the Lord and that is the basis for our committment to each other. That's the real reason we are still together today.
Once we realized how very real the end of our relationship could be; we talked. We really really talked. We both listened. It was great, and things have been slowly improving.
This year, we are taking a few steps to strengthen our marriage, and because I have a blog (and therefore have the ability to tell you all) I'm going to tell you what those steps are.
1) A date night every month. This was actually my Christmas present to Helmut. One date a month, pre-planned and paid for. This is one thing we've not done at all over the last 4 1/2 years. Part of that is because we have kids. We never seem to find the time, unless we are deliberate about making it. This year, we are going to make the time.
2) Go to bed at the same time every night. This is actually something we do every night already, and always have. So, this one will be easy. It gives us time to talk and wind down with each other every night. Makes a big difference in *many* areas of our life.
3) Doing little things that we know make things easier for each other. For example, Helmut asked me to have the kitchen table completely clean when he came home from work tonight. I don't understand why (because I would have rather made an extra batch of buns, I only got 3 batches done today) but I knew it was important to him, even though it was such a little thing, so I did it.
4) When we talk to our friends about any difficulties we are facing, we only talk to friends who believe in marriage forever and remaining committed to your spouse. They support us, help us through, talk us down (me more so than Helmut) and are there for us when we need them. (I should make it clear here that we do not tell them specifics of what we're going through. They just remind us that we are committed to each other and help us through the rough times).
So. Those are just a few steps things we will be doing consistently this year to grow closer to one another. I'm sure there are a thousand other things we could be doing, and these are certainly not the only things we are doing, but these are some conscious efforts we will be making to stay connected. Because this marriage will last.