I rewrote that title just five times or so. I still don’t like it.
Whether you are dating long distance or have a traveling spouse like I do, for some of us, traditional ‘dating’ is crammed into the two precious days of the weekend. The problem remains… those two days also contain all my deep-cleaning, homework catch-up, meal planning and even some errand-running.
So Mr. M and I find ourselves spending the weekend playing house: laundry, cooking, taking out the garbage, vacuuming, and ending it with a movie on Saturday night. While there is nothing wrong with this, we’d like to spend the few days we have together during travel season in a more productive, fulfilling way.
Here are a few ideas we’ve found helpful as we keep the house spic-n’-span while getting quality time together.
1. Use Friday night for chores, homework, and household clean up – then plan a surprise day out all day Saturday.
Is your impulse to use Friday night as ‘date night’? Ours too. But we’ve found a little switcheroo that helps make the most of our time: one accelerated evening of household maintenance!
There are a few Fridays which we’ve spent cleaning the house, doing laundry, washing the sheets, prepping meals for the weekend and catching up on paperwork just so we could have the weekend off. When you are confined to a few hours (as opposed to all of Saturday) we find you can accomplish a lot more! We’ll work from 6-9 PM or so, maybe watch a movie, or just go to bed.
The next day, one of us will plan a ‘day date’; surprise or not is optional. A few we’ve done:
- Two hour roadtrip to a large reservoir for fishing; dinner at a barbeque spot; and stopping by a new coffee shop along the way
- Hour trip to visit Mr. M’s family with a Starbucks run and some shopping in my favorite VA city
- Garage sales in the morning (essential Starbucks run included), lunch at home, and dollar theater movie or Redbox at home with ice cream
- Early morning fishing on our lake, pancakes, and devotions, followed by visiting a festival or event in a nearby area
I enjoy our ‘date days’ more because I know the housework doesn’t await me upon our return. I don’t have catch up to do on laundry, homework is caught up, and dishes are done. This allows me to focus completely on my husband and enjoy our time together more fully!
2. Rotate between weekends out and weekends in.
Maybe I’m the only one with this problem, but somehow I have an innate NEED to fill empty weekends.
I think it’s because there are only 52 weekends a year, only a few of those which fall in the summer… so I get this sense of uncalled-for urgency resulting in Saturdays packed to the brim. Now, after a few months, I literally highlight a weekend in my planner and write PLAN NOTHING. Sometimes you just need to rest together.
Try to rotate your schedule. If you only see each other on weekends, it will be tempting to pack the Saturday and Sunday as full as you can. But once in a while it’s good to just take walks, cook together, watch a movie at home or with roommates (if you’re dating), and keep the outside activities to a minimum. On these weekends Mr. M and I would usually only go out to talk in a coffee shop – where we have some of our deepest conversations. It feels more like ‘going out’ while remaining close to home.
When we have time in our schedule, we’ll plan weekend roadtrips, visits to family, or checking out events in the community.
3. Protect your schedule, and block off Saturdays from volunteer work, parties, and get-togethers.
It’s the ‘PLAN NOTHING’ method. Since our schedule usually books up two weeks at a time, I will quarter off those days I want to keep open for the two of us. If you volunteer, are a member of any clubs or groups, lead any bible studies or generally have friends, there are a plethora of events which can encroach on your time with your man. It can be hard to say no!
It’s a matter of ‘good, better, best’. A wedding of a friend is an important event that you could attend together; a voluntary birthday party for your coworker’s one year old may be something you could miss, while still sending a gift. You don’t have to go to everything.
When Mr. M and I were dating, we didn’t think it healthy to spend all of our time together. We did spend a LOT of time – eating lunch, working out, going on dates – but we knew it would not be healthy to spend morning, noon, and evening with each other. We needed to invest in others and others needed to invest in us. That said: your friends will understand if, due to a long distance marriage or relationship, you say no to events on the weekends to be with your man. Good friends will always be gracious about this – especially if you have invested in them in the past.
4. Treat Sunday like the real Sabbath, and use it as a day of rest to recap the week and plan for the next.
Some people believe in a ‘floating Sabbath’, which means they may go shopping, work, or attend sports games on a Sunday, while using another day of the week to rest and worship the Lord (outside of attending church). This can definitely work, but we have found that protecting Sundays as a day of rest is a better option for our own young marriage.
Sunday is the start of the week, so by attending church, fellowshipping with other believers, eating together (sometimes with a group of our friends) and heading home for the rest of the day we are restfully prepared for the week ahead. We attempt to use this day to accomplish some of the following things:
- Recap what we did and accomplished the week before
- Go over the budget for the current two weeks and see if we need to adjust anything
- Assess our student loan payoff progress
- Talk through the next week: any birthdays, weddings, graduates who need gifts? Any Junior League meetings or soccer games? Any nights I will not be home to make dinner? What is the plan for the next weekend?
- Plan meals for the week and check to see if the fridge is stocked (this is mostly me)
- If he is leaving town, make sure his bags are packed and the house is in order
We try to do our own devotions at breakfast before church, pray together, and pray over the week.
This is a routine we are tweaking and attempting to firmly establish, because it will be necessary when we have children for the planning of their homeschool year. It also keeps Mr. M in the loop concerning what I (and our future kids) am doing throughout the week, who I am seeing, what I am accomplishing and how much money I need for different budgetary expenses.
In short, saving Sundays together keeps us unified.
5. When you’re apart – keep dating! Plan for the next weekend so you make the most of your time.
As I wrote in my post ‘How to Survive When Your Husband Travels‘, there are some things you can do with a traveling spouse to help pass the time and stay busy until he returns. But we also want to invest in our sweet men while they are gone!
I find phone calls difficult. Evenings are when I do most of my housework and homework, naturally, since I am working from 8-5. Talking on the phone is generally a very stationary act, so I usually try to have everything done and be in bed when Mr. M calls. But that can be too late at night! Here are a few things I’ve started doing over the last year since we’ve dealt with his travel schedule:
- Use a bluetooth or headphones while cleaning or cooking to talk on the phone.
- Text throughout the day; send encouragements, hint at things you want to talk about later on the phone. I try not to tell a whole story via text, or we don’t have as much to converse about later on. Save it till the end of the day!
- Email! We have emailed each other since the beginning of our relationship. Emails are like love letters to us; a place where we share verses we’ve read, things that happened, funny quotes and scenarios, pictures and Pinterest pins.
- Facetime or Skype: even for a few minutes before bed, if you’re married, it’s the best replacement for having him right there.
- Buy a pack of cards and label the envelopes, “Open When Lonely”, “Open When Tired”, “Open At Dinner” or whatever you please. Then write notes corresponding to the situations. Send your husband on his trip with however many notes correspond to the days he is gone; five days, five notes. Or just write out encouragements on random cards, things you love or respect about him, and dreams for the future and pack these in his suitcase.
- If YOU are the one traveling (which I did this spring), leave notes around the house for him – in the fridge, under his pillow, taped to the door. I was given a stack of ‘love notes’ for husbands, and I would tape these throughout the house plus leave him his meals packed for the week, and a list of the foods available to him in the house. I make sure the house is clean for him and laundry, if at all possible, is done.
And finally, always say good morning, and always say good night – even if you can’t kiss him good night, you can hear his voice, and that’s almost as special!