Time management and finding quality time for your spouse are recurring themes here on Engaged Marriage for a reason…they are incredibly important! 

I first met Nina when she and her husband joined our initial test group and then became early success stories using the Thrive90 Fitness program over at Fit Marriage.  I knew they had taken the importance of recreational intimacy to heart, but it wasn’t until I read this guest post from Nina that I fully understood why.  Enjoy!

Almost three years ago, I had divorce papers filled out and was ready to walk out the door.

My husband was home once a week while he was pursuing his paramedic degree, and I was pregnant and taking care of our 3 small children by myself. Yes, that is a recipe for disaster.

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After years of problems ranging from pornography addiction to adultery, we were through. There was no way to save our broken marriage.

Or so I thought.

In the midst of tears and prayers, God sent me words of wisdom through several different people, and I began making the effort to change myself. After 6 years of ineffective nagging, I realized that this was the only thing I hadn’t tried, so I decided to submit and serve. And that was the catalyst for where we are today.

Coming back from the brink of divorce isn’t easy, and it takes time to rebuild the trust that was broken. But it is possible. And what’s better, is that your marriage can become better than it ever was. Way better.

So how did we do it? Seek out a counselor? Nope. Did that once and my husband swore never again. We did something much simpler than that, something we should have been doing all along.

We started to spend more time together.

That may sound like a terribly simple solution to a huge problem, but it was exactly what we needed.

How to Recommit to Your Marriage

Here are a few ways we’ve been intentional about spending time together to recommit to our marriage:

Find a mutual hobby – After years of doing things separately or begrudgingly doing things together, we began to pick out activities that could be enjoyed together. Since we really did very little to begin with, we had a difficult time finding common ground.

So we took turns doing things the other enjoyed – with a good attitude – and were pleasantly surprised with how fun it was. Who knew that beer brewing could be so interesting?

Date often – We have four small children, so dating is a challenge unless we make it a priority. Taking turns planning our monthly outing has been a fun way to get in a number of different activities like hiking, snowshoeing, brewery touring or going to the symphony. It is a huge contrast to bickering in the car over what we do and then just ending up at the same old restaurant.

In addition to going out once a month, we also shoot for a mini-date once a week after the kids have gone to bed (we put them down early for “their” own good). Then we watch a movie we’ve both agreed on, play a game, snuggle and read or wash and rub each other’s feet. It’s simple and we love it.

Date intentionally – It’s easy to go out, sit in a dark movie theater, eat dinner with little talking and drive home in silence. I know because we used to do that.

That’s a no-no now and if we do see a movie, we go to our favorite pub that has a cheap movie theater where we can eat dinner at the same time while snuggled up on a cozy couch. It’s not uncommon for us to whisper smart remarks and delight in watching each other giggle at the movie. Ok, I’m the only one who giggles, but my husband tells me he loves to watch me do that. The point is that dating is now a way to have fun together and talk, and not just about the latest crazy things our kids did.

Does your marriage have to be on the brink of disaster to make an effort to enjoy each other more? No, definitely not. Any marriage will benefit from intentionally seeking out ways to have more fun together.

Don’t stress about planning the most awesome date the two of you have ever been on. Keep it simple. Have fun. And, most importantly, make the time to delight in your spouse.

(photo source)

Nina Nelson writes at Shalom Mama about building relationships, holistic health and mindful living. When she’s not chasing her four kids or hanging out with her husband, you can find her reading or drawing plans for the straw bale house they’ll have someday.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. This is an awesome story of hope!! We always try to find solutions on the outside when, if we work together, most things can be worked out between spouses. It takes a lot of patience and humility, but it is possible and so worth it! Awesome post!

    1. Thanks David! I was reading your blog post today thinking, “I wish we would have made that commitment at the beginning.” Being intentional about spending time together is just so crucial to having a healthy marriage.

  2. Excellent post! It’s amazing how many people try counseling and think it is the ONLY way to improve marriage when most answers are right in front of you!

  3. Thanks Mike! Counseling was definitely not the marriage-saver we were hoping for. Thankfully, we found a much more and enjoyable (and cheaper) solution to our problem.

  4. Very inspiring.. During the time of trials,when you can not do anything. And you
    call God and humble yourself,that’s the time he answers our prayers.
    God bless you more..

  5. REALLY great ideas…
    Seems like we spend alotta time together – but definitely not enough intentional date-time. With the demands of seven children, taking the time to get dressed up & go out often ends up last on the list. THANKs for the reminder to make it priority! Nothing better for our kids than a thriving, loving marriage!

    1. I totally hear you Teri! The effort can be difficult – but the outcome is so worth it for our marriages and our children.

  6. This is a great story that provides hope and encouragment. I do want to add though, I was disheartened by the negative mention of marriage counseling. I’m saddened that this couple had a negative experience with counseling, however like any profession, there are good ones and bad ones. But it’s so important not to cut it off as a viable resource for couples. As a marriage counselor, I know that many couples struggling with issues that this couple struggled with, would not experience the same success without intervention. While it’s so great that this couple was able to get there on their own, many couples can not. And I would hate for someone to read this post who is intimidated by the thought of contacting a marriage counselor but knows they need help, to see this and turn off to the idea. Another way to look at it, there are people in poor physical health that can motivate themselves to hit the gym and work their way to health on their own, but there are many who need help and are not able to succeed without a personal trainer or support group, so we need to keep a positive outlook on the helping profession so we don’t discourage it as an important resource for struggling marriages. With all that said, KUDOS to this couple for making it happen for themselves!!

    1. Dana, thank you. When we tried counseling, it was actually exactly what I needed at the time. The counselor recommended a book, Waking the Dead by John Eldgredge, that I read and was completely transformed by. He noted that the change in me was obvious. However, it was after that that he told my husband that the course our marriage had taken was mainly his fault (which my husband has since agreed to) and that he needed to own up to it. Perhaps if he hadn’t felt so attacked we would have tried it again, unfortunately it left a bad taste in my husband’s mouth.

      I definitely agree that many people need intervention and the counsel of others to find their way back to a good marriage. Having support from friends and our pastor were necessary to give us the strength to keep fighting for our relationship. I just want people to have hope that their marriage is not doomed if they have a bad experience with a counselor or if one spouse refuses to go.

  7. Nina, the courage you have displayed is such an inspiration. I whole-heartedly agree that if a couple has a bad experience with marriage counseling, they should not give up. It is so hard to pick up and try again, but it’s so important to realize that every counselor is different. And it most certainly can still help even if your spouse won’t attend. A counselor should not take sides or ever assign blame (but should rather encourage accountability of BOTH partners).
    I think your story is such an inspiration and it is so meaningful that you were able to share it so others can feel a sense of hope about their own situation.

  8. a great story … i felt so happy after reading the story … it also provided me with a lot of encourement as well … i would like to say in marrige it is just really easy to walk out of relationship …but you have to work hard on relationship to make it a success …

  9. Pingback: Why Your Why is More Important Than Your Weight | Shalom Mama
  10. Nina-only way I can get ahold of u I bought your book a while ago where is it? This is crazy! I have been waiting, please answer me as soon as u recieve this!

    1. Hi Nikki. I’m sorry to hear that! Is this the email address you used? I can check the records and see what happened .

  11. i love this article. I do have a question: what do you do if your husband does not want to go out on dates? He agrees to spending time at home but does not want to date? Thank you for this resource.

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