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Less Fun, More Logistics: The Reality of Marriage With Kids

Last week, we had a conversation with a recently married younger couple. They told us about the challenge of transitioning from those early days of dating, where everything is fun and fresh, to the early days of marriage, where you end up spending way more time on navigating conflict and life logistics.

In that moment, something clicked. We uncovered an insight that was always there but that we had never seen with such clarity.

We call it The Fun-to-Logistics Ratio.

Here’s how it works. In the early days of dating, the fun-to-logistics ratio is at about 99 to 1. It’s all fun, new, and exciting. You go on dates. You go on trips. You surprise and delight each other. And, sure, you have to worry about occasional logistics along the way, things like what time to meet up for your Friday night concert. But most of your experience lands squarely in the fun zone.

Then you get married, and, all of a sudden, this ratio changes in an instant. It’s now more like 50/50. You still have the freedom to do fun dates, trips, and adventures, but now you must also coordinate the logistics of a life together: finances, shopping trips, apartment cleaning, and on and on.

Then some couples add children. And that’s where this fun-to-logistics ratio begins to flip on its head. Now it’s more like 10 parts fun to 90 parts logistics. Going out alone together becomes increasingly difficult. Trips for just the two of you, what are those?

With kids, marriage becomes less about wild adventures and crazy sex, more about building an enterprise together, a joint venture capable of coordinating careers, kids activities, and the thousand or so other commitments of modern life.

So what can you do to make the most of this shift in the fun-to-logistics ratio? Here are a couple tools.

 

Tools

 

1. Learn to love logistics.

There are two ways to react to the shift in the fun-to-logistics ratio. The first is to fight against it -- to cling to the vestiges of your old, kid-free, life with less responsibility. The problem with this strategy is that it's a lot like trying to stop a thunderstorm from raining down on your summer picnic. You're at war with something inevitable. And, as a result, it ends up being a giant waste of time and energy.

We think there's a better strategy. Instead of fighting against the logistical burdens that come with marriage and kids, we say “embrace them." Turn the challenge of building a joint venture together, capable of managing the messy logistics of modern life, into part of your path to connection in marriage. See what happens when you start thinking about the mastery of the logistical side of life as central to your ability to stay in love, connected, and intimate.

 

2. Time box your logistics.

Logistics really suck the joie de vivre out of life when they sneak in on dinner, date night or other times where you thought you could be together. Set aside time, get the logistics nailed, then treat yourselves to a celebration: a literal drop of the phone, a dance around the kitchen, or a moment of obligation-free bliss. With dedicated focus, logistics can be a time-limited rather than a ubiquitous experience in your relationship.

 

3. Make the fun count.

Sometimes, life is crazy. You're overwhelmed at work. Your kids require every ounce of your energy and attention. In short, there just isn’t much time left for fun. Your fun-to-logistics ratio becomes the exact opposite of what it was during your first days together.

What are you to do? We think it starts by making the most of your now much more limited fun time together.

Maybe you only have time for one date night a week. Maybe you only have time for one date night a month. 

See if you can make this time count. You can do this by coming up with creative ways to spend time together: new activities, new restaurants, or new adventures together.

You can also do this by asking new and fresh questions that break you out of every day conversation during your time alone together. Questions like:

  • How are you really doing?
  • What are you most excited about these days?
  • Where do you see us in 3 to 5 years?

The point is to break out of your everyday habits so you can connect and get the most out of this rare time together.

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