The Romance in Parenthood

It has been a really busy couple of weeks since we returned from our trip to Australia. For some reason or another, we have been swept into a whirlwind of activities both for the boys as well as for ourselves. Two days ago Sue and I finally got a short breather as we took time out from our regular routines to sit in for a workshop on Understanding Male and Female Relationships. While this is a topic that is not entirely new for us, we know that we are still a young couple and that there is so much to learn from the numerous experienced couples around us. 

One of the key points that struck me was a timely reminder about romance - I posted this as a Facebook update:

Romance is the practice of continually creating precious emotional memories for our significant other. It is easy for a marriage to lose its spark if the flames of romance are not ignited on a regular basis. What we have to do is to work hard at keeping the flames burning; not relying on past experiences but to continually create special moments in the present so as to sustain our marriage for the future.
One romantic moment.
Part of the reason for this post is to recall the precious emotional memories I have shared with my dear wife. One memory that I hold dear is spending hours taking a bus together. During the days before we got married and owned a car, we would spend lots of time travelling from one location to another; and most of the time would be spent talking about our time in youth ministry, or about our families, or about our goals and dreams and life aspirations. Looking back, I can't remember the content of the conversations, but it was the shared times and the alignment of our life philosophies that made the difference. During those moments we learnt much about each other; our strengths and weaknesses, and we began building a foundation that would eventually lead to a shared life together.
Sentosa was an important place for us during our dating days and many precious memories were created there.
Good food has fed many of our cherish moments.
Another memory I hold close to my heart relates to our hours of ministry among the young people in church. Sue and I are deeply fond of people; and both of us get excited when mentoring youths or young adults and walking through life alongside them. It always brings us much joy to witness a young person make a decision that will lead to his or her happiness; and it also pains us when choices are made that could lead to personal suffering and heartbreak. I am thankful that my wife shares this passion and I know that the shared memories of our time spent together in this way have been immensely precious to us.
Dear friends in the youth ministry sharing in the joy at a good friend's wedding.
Looking back at the days after we got married and before we had kids, I remember most the time that we spent travelling together overseas. Both of us had been bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and we have spent so much precious time exploring different places and enjoying different foods. But more than that, holidays have been special moments for us to connect, as well as to constantly reflect on our marriage. I know we talk a fair bit more than other couples, and I know that has helped us to have an intimate understanding of each other.
Bali, Indonesia, 2009.
Seoraksan, Korea, 2010.
Life has not been easy since the children came. It is easy to get sucked into the routine of things and forget that we need our own space apart from the kids. Yes it is true that we enjoy travelling, and have decided to take the boys with us on all our major holidays. But I know that we must still carve out a special time away from them. Yesterday's session reminded me of this - that I have to continually remember to romance my wife.

I hear of couples who get into extramarital affairs after the arrival of their children. I also know there are those who decide to call it quits after their kids get through the major PSLE exams in Primary 6. I am saddened; for I know many couples allow their children to get in the way of their intimacy. 

Sue and I have tried our best to ensure that the children do not become the centre of our family life. While we may do many things for the kids, and many activities are catered for them, but we know that the husband and wife must form the centre of the family nucleus. Only then can the children find security and develop their own sense of identity while at the same time feeling safe because of their parents' consistent presence. I remember reading Ken Canfield's book on The 7 Secrets of Effective Fathers (blog post here) about how the father must serve as the fixed end of a geometrical compass for the child to explore freely. Likewise, the love between a husband and a wife must serve as the bedrock of a child's world. Kids must know that their parents will always be there for them even when they misbehave or cross the boundary lines.
The Lim Family enjoying a special moment together at the ALIVE Museum.
Loving parents create the stability for happy and secure children.
Saturday's session has served as a reminder for me to persist in strengthening the husband-wife bond. I know there exists a deep and intimate love between Sue and myself; but what I need to remember is to keep the spark of romance alive. I know that a relationship is meant to be fun and exciting, but sometimes we can forget to have fun when the kids are around; spending more time disciplining them or getting them ready for the next big activity. Sue and I do share romantic moments away from the kids - like during lunchtime in-between work when the kids are away with their grandparents, or when we sit at a cafe reading a book and writing the blog together. But we have to remember to continue doing these things; we have to remember to continue romancing each other. For there have to be new special moments during each and every phase of the marriage. We have to continue feeling the way we felt when we first met. 

The road ahead is long; and we know we cannot wait for the children to grow up before seeking romantic moments together. Love is in the here and the now. Love is in creation of memories to help us withstand the storms of life. Love is in the promise and the surety that we will walk alongside each other come what may. 

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