How to Fall Together Instead of Apart: Married {with} Kids

Marriage, according to kids:


(1) There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?
– Kelvin, age 8


(1) Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
– Ricky, age 10                                                                                                                                                   [source]


It’s an early morning breakfast-packing backpacks-lunches and kisses on the cheek-out the door kind of life.

We separate. We work hard. All day long. There is homework and poster board projects, reading logs and flute rehearsal. There’s the tapping of drumsticks and the bounce of the trampoline. There’s coloring at the table. Carrots on the cutting board.

I hear the door click and I take a long deep breath. He’s home.

And though the world and work and life pull us apart. Our family longs to be together–so we can live crazy-beautiful.


We pile around the kitchen table. We pray and are thankful. Sometimes. We wipe a spill. Always. We laugh at highs and lows and we open a book together. We reread sentences that weren’t listened to the first time. And we try and stay around the table as long as we can. I start to tell him All The Things on my mind and I don’t have the energy to compete with my kid’s stories or interruptions. It can wait.

Dinner ends and we scatter: there’s sibling rivalry over who should unload the dishes, who should feed the dog, a load of clothes is started, last bits of homework are done. I pick up shoes and a doll and the pieces of our lives and start preparing for another day. He reads another chapter to our youngest and puts her to bed.

My husband walks into our bedroom and he looks tired. I can’t wait to curl up and talk. Because some days, I feel like I’m going to fall apart.

But just about then the water spout in the upstairs bath breaks mid-stream and it won’t shut off and water pours, my oldest panics with a towel on, he runs with a toolbox and I don’t have a chance to pour at my heart. Instead our tween son who can’t sleep lays in his father’s spot for a few minutes pouring out his heart.

It’s nearly midnight when we hold each other and there’s nothing to say to the everything we’re too tired to say. We speak in the tangles of sheets and beating hearts. We fall together.

Life on repeat. The next day is filled with tacos for the 25 who show up to community group and spill into every seat in the house. There are basketball tryouts, grocery store visits and unexpected bills.

As our kids get older and stay up later and need us more emotionally, the window of time with my husband gets smaller everyday. We are married with kids and while we wouldn’t change it for a second, it’s entirely too easy for our marriage to get lost in the demands of parenting and jobs and serving and we find the day is over and we haven’t had one conversation. It threatens to pull us apart. Can anyone relate?

With every season of parenting, it affects our marriage…from newborns and unthinkable sleep deprivation to worries about a wayward teen or a hard-hearted tween, it’s tempting to work against each other instead of together. And those are the easy days, that don’t even include the scary moments when serious illness threatens or outside influences tempt our children away. I’ve watched so many marriages simply fall apart after the kids leave, as if they were the glue holding the union together.

Here are 5 things we are doing to stay married long after kids leave:

Regular date nights::My favorite part of this connected time is talking with my best friend. It’s not uncommon for me to start a conversation in the morning and finish is after dinner because of distractions or interruptions. Date night is the perfect time to talk about everything and nothing. We sit on the same sides of the booth and hold hands under the table. We are desperate to connect because we have lived unconnected before. Our dates might be a 30 minute coffee between appointments or a swing on the hammock with the kids inside. It doesn’t matter what they look like, it matters that they happen.

Making space for alone time at home:: Let’s face it, one date a week isn’t always possible. Or likely. I am envious of those who can pull it off. But you can still pull off space together. Terrell has always had this thing–the minute he walks in the door, he doesn’t stop at the kid’s questions or clamoring for attention, he walks straight to me. We usually hug and kiss and then he’ll turn to the kids’ demands. And we aren’t afraid to tell our kids we need alone time together. We lock our door and make it happen.

Spend overnight time away together:: This is a fairly new goal for us. And we decided (after doing it) it’s a pretty important way to refresh and reset our marriage. It won’t always look like this (sob), but even one night away on our anniversary or sending the kids to their grandparents is something we look forward to. Once a year is our goal, but we’ll take more!

Connecting beyond the kids:: Perhaps the most important thing we can do beyond spending one-on-one time together, is relating beyond our children. It’s so easy in our culture to focus all our attention on our kids that we stop doing some of the things that brought us together in the first place. Carving out time to support each other’s hobbies, chase one another’s dreams is important now and in the future.

Let Jesus be the middle ground:: Let’s face it, life and love and loss are mingled with joy and tears. Sometimes we don’t see eye-to-eye or don’t know where to go or which way to turn. That’s when we fall to Jesus. Because He holds our lives, our kids, our future and He turns two independent, willful parents into One.

Children are a precious gift from God. They fill our homes with laughter and love and give us a reason to keep buying fun cereal. Children can deepen and enhance our marriages, they teach us so much about God and even more about ourselves, but the parenting bumps in the journey can add stress to our marriages. It’s crucial we take steps to grow together as our kids grow up.

So we can fall together.

Instead of apart.


  1. 1

    Manette Gutterman says

    Wonderful article. Falling together is even more difficult in this reality. I don’t work, but I watch my husband sleep till he has to get up and go to work. I’m much like a single parent except I give them all the credit because they’re doing it all on their own. Due to nightshift, we don’t get to eat together a the table. Due to no babysitter, no involved grandparents, and no Saturdays off work, we don’t get to date but once every 3 months. Life is lonely and hard. Count your blessings if you get to go to bed together tired every night and sit around that table together. We fall together rarely, but at least we’ve managed to do it for 16 years. I appreciate him more than he will ever know.

  2. 2

    Kendra says

    Oh girl, I can so relate. We just brought home our 3rd baby girl (older sister ages 2 & 4!). Needless to say my hands are full and this time around he’s a lot busier with work than he ever has been so we’re having to fight to keep up the flame. Thanks for this reminder!

  3. 3

    Amber says

    This is sooooo good, Kristen. All married couples with children should read this. So, so true. And I’m glad I got the chance. Have I mentioned I wish we were neighbors? 😉 Only like a gazillion times, right? Praying big for you all and for Mercy! XO

    PS Loved the ‘give us a reason to keep buying fun cereal…’ LOL Again, TRUE! :)

  4. 4


    I just love everything you write! Such great things to think about and remember. We don’t have kids yet, but are trying to start a family. Even without kids, life and business can threaten to pull us apart, and I can only image how kids will change things. It takes two people who understand the work it takes and want to work at it. It also takes faith. Love this!

  5. 5

    Amie says

    THANK YOU! This is a beautifully written post. I know my husband and I live a life very similar to y’alls! This hits home…..I really needed to read this today! God is so AWESOME, always giving us what we need, right when we need it! Thanks again!

  6. 6


    I can so relate. We’ve been married 9 years, have 3 small children and are moving to Europe on Sunday and have no house ready, no school, church etc. and the stress is just about to kill me. But we did make time yesterday to go go-karting together….maybe because we had to use a Living Social voucher purchased last Christmas before we left, and possibly because it expired yesterday as well, but still, we got out there and did it!

  7. 7


    Oh, this is such a good and important piece. Yet another friend confessed the brokenness of their marriage to me and my heart breaks. If we didn’t have God, and a lot of hard work invested in “us”, I don’t think we’d have made it

  8. 8


    I am a widow and not in the stage place of the path of Life, but this blog posting brought tears to my eyes because it is so important. Thank you for taking time to share what really works. I pray for you and your husband and your family. Thank you.

  9. 9

    Jen says

    I miss the pleasure, joy, and hectic days of falling together with my husband and raising our four boys as GOD called him home a year ago. It is a lonely doing this parenting alone…and I miss him more now than any day when he worked three jobs so I could be a “stay at home mom” or was working the night shift. Life is crazy and hectic and wonderful! How blessed we are to share it with people who choose to love us as “Christ loved the church”! Too many days we were tired…yes, and so many days our dates were a hot coffee stop on the way to the grocery store….but we had them! Our boys are a living reflection of the love we shared and are looking for future marriages “that mirror mom and dads”. So I guess, we actually “lived out” falling together, which is what we all really want to do, for our kids as well as for our marriages! Keep falling together whatever you do….life is precious!!!

  10. 10


    I love this…falling together instead of falling apart. I had to smile when I saw your title – this week on KLOVE, I’m on their “Closer Look” segment talking about exactly this…”Getting Your Family Together”

  11. 11


    Yes, that is so beautifully put! Falling together is so important, and it’s often so hard to figure out how to do it.

    I like your list, but I couldn’t them all to work for me. What has really helped me is the book by Hal and Melanie Young, My Beloved and My Friend. It’s superb and is getting me ready for the next 25 years! I reviewed it on my blog.

  12. 12

    Lori P says

    Falling together is so important. We had finally reached a quiet period in our life with our daughter raised and in college when we took in our foster daughter. Finding time for each other with all that’s involved in that system was extremely difficult. When our foster daughter was placed with birth mom after a year out home was once again quiet. It was like meeting and getting to know each other all over again. We were enjoying it so much until once again our household was extremely busy. My mother was diagnosed with dementia and along with other health issues wasn’t able to live alone so we are now caring for her. Now we don’t allow any excuses to get in the way of us falling together. Thank you for the reminder. I think in the busyness of life we sometimes neglect our spouse when we should be seeking each other out :)

  13. 13

    Sarah Gagnon says

    Kristen,, thanks for writing this. :) Our kids are still very small, but this is still very encouraging. We feel like we don’t have time to talk about anything else except bills and our 2-year-old’s behavior. We’re trying to learn to make time for each other and to spend time in prayer with each other…way easier said then done. Most of the time it’s trying to hear each other talk over a crying newborn.
    Thanks for the encouragement to keep Jesus in the middle of the marriage.

    Love you guys!

  14. 14

    Glo says

    You said it soooo well!! So we’re not the only ones living life like this! You are encouraging! Thanks for this post!

  15. 15


    this is so encourage and hopeful……and my spirit right now, due to issues, is just so “meh” towards my hubby. I got to keep in mind that we should provide a soft place to fall for each other: especially when there are issues to be sorted out. And even when I really want to kick him in the shins! (ha – don’t worry, I wouldn’t actually.)
    I just feel so “at odds” and disconnected to him these days — and I know that needs to GO.
    Just…..Get thee behind me!!!

  16. 16


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