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REAL Married-With-Kids Romance

by Meagan Francis on February 12, 2014

jon meagan cali

The year I was hugely pregnant with Clara, Jon and I didn’t have plans to go out on Valentine’s Day. But we got an unexpected babysitting offer at the last minute, and since all the nice restaurants in town were booked, we wound up at Chili’s.

Jon wisely got the fajita trio, but I had had my heard set on something a little more upscale, so in a fit of pregnancy-induced grumpiness – against Jon’s urgings and my better judgment – I insisted on getting steak.

I shouldn’t have gotten the steak.

It wasn’t a sappy evening straight out of a Kay Jewelry commercial, but how often do those happen in real life? If I’ve learned anything about marriage, it’s that the “special” days, the dressed-up dates, the anniversaries, the dinner-and-a-movie nights are nice…but they aren’t what really matters, what really makes a marriage.

It’s the hug in the morning after he snored all night and you’re pretty sure your breath smells like the garbage disposal, the midnight baby hand-off, the disciplinary back-up with the surly teen, the long kiss in the midst of craziness, the caress on a belly so stretched out by pregnancies that you aren’t sure how anyone could not be repulsed by it, the text just to say hello. The thousands of tiny choices we make every day.

Lately, I’ve been focusing hard on making my little choices count. Meeting him at the door when he gets home instead of letting him find me, back turned in my office, absorbed in Facebook. Kissing back instead of ducking my head and rolling over on those nights I’d really rather just go to sleep. Just being the first one to let my feet touch the floor in the morning, because I know he’s so often the last one to get his feet in the bed at night.

He makes those little choices, for me, too. Every day. I know this, when I take the time to notice. Which is a decision, too.

That is real, grown-up, married-with-kids romance. To me, it’s way more romantic than any smooth-skinned, dewy rose-petal fantasy. And you don’t even need a sitter and a reservation to make it happen…starting today.

real married-with-kids romance


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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Tragic Sandwich February 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I’ve read comments from women who say “I never thank my husband for taking out the trash. Why should I? That’s just part of what needs to happen, not something anyone should get praise for.”

I wonder what they’re saving up for–I thank Mr. Sandwich for everything, because I don’t see how being chary with my appreciation benefits either of us. And he does the same. We’re grateful to have one another, and the mundane aspects of making a life together are where that comes through most clearly and most often.

And really it’s the little things that make that life, not the rare grand gestures:


Meagan Francis February 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

I love this – you’re so right, showing appreciation benefits both parties. Why be greedy with it unless you’re keeping score?


Kristen February 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I just want to say that I love that your name for your husband is Mr. Sandwich. Cracked me up. ;)


Brittnie February 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

SO true! Great words of wisdom. It is the little ins and outs of every day life that make marriage special… and what make marriage last!


Emily February 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I completely agree with this post. Somewhere along the line in our seven year marriage, our idea of romance evolved from being reservations at an overpriced restaurant, to a late dinner (at home) together after our kids are in bed. I can’t say how many times my husband has said thank you for something that I do (be it laundry, noticing when we’re low on stamps, or simply making a dinner that I know he enjoys), and that simple gesture completely sweeps me off my feet. I try to do the same thing for him, and for us, that everyday sort of romance is so much better than marked up flowers once a year.


nestra February 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I am verging on hugely pregnant and my husband brought me home a very special Valentine. A turkey sandwich that he ordered in the very particular way that I like, and he remembered that I needed the turkey to be heated. Some may not think that is all that romantic but to me it was not just a tasty treat but a reminder that he listens and knows what I like. Now that is love!


Meagan Francis February 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

My husband is also great at getting all my “special orders” just right and I love it. I’m not that great at it – mostly because I’m not particularly detail-oriented – but I’m trying to improve because I know how nice it feels when somebody caters to you like that.


Beth (A Mom's Life) February 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Beautiful. It really is the little choices that make all the difference!


Tricia February 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Love this! It is so absolutely true. The little things truly do make a marriage as they are what endear us to each other – not fancy dinners out or expensive reservations. I’ve been trying to focus on the little things lately too. It also sets a lovely example for our children.


michelle s. February 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Great reminder to get off the computer when my husband comes home. ;) Couldn’t agree more with the point of this email.


nicole February 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I like this. Simple and straight forward. I shared it on my FB wall. Our dinner tonight is coming from Chili’s, coincidentally. :)


Meagan Francis February 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

you didn’t get the steak, did you? :)


whoorl February 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Wow, so true. (Especially the part about greeting your loved one at the door…need to start ASAP.) Love this post, Meagan.


Dayna February 15, 2012 at 1:44 am

So true! My favorite part: “He makes those little choices, for me, too. Every day. I know this, when I take the time to notice. Which is a decision, too.”


Marlon Cooper February 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

I love this post so much. I agree with every single thing you say.
Real married with kids romance is indeed much more romantic than any rose-petal fantasies.
Hope you had a great valentine.

Thanks for sharing.



Anne-Marie February 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Wait…I AM hugely pregnant right now…I don’t get it…I can’t have steak? Please explain before I make a regrettable mistake…. :-)


Meagan Francis February 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Ha! Sorry to be not clear enough Anne-Marie! I am a big fan of steak while pregnant or any other time. However, I feel that at Chili’s there are certain things they do well – that list includes fajitas, queso dip, and white chicken chili. Steak? Does not make that list. Unless you love gristle, LOL


Anne-Marie February 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Ok, whew…I thought the upshot of the tale would be, “Steak made me go into labor at Chili’s and we spent Valentine’s Day at the hospital…” Although right now, I’d eat just about anything that might trigger labor….
Will attempt to meet husband at the door this evening, if I can waddle over there :-)


Beth February 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Great post. After 31 years I can tell you that it ain’t always easy but it’s worth it.


Annie February 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I think married romance is all about doing the dishes so your spouse doesn’t have to. The most romantic thing my husband can do for me is to help me clean up and then snuggle and watch Downton Abbey together. Such simple kindnesses really do keep the flame going. Great post.


Meagan Francis February 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm

ah yes…Downton Abbey. Any time my husband watches that with me it’s like my best night ever :)


Kim @ The Educators' Spin On It February 15, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I love your post, with heartfelt truth to it. I was thinking this morning about how much I love Sharing Valentine’s Day with my Children. Would love for you to stop by I think you might enjoy it too.


Our Muddy Boots February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm

This is a good reminder. Particularly for somebody like me :) I get caught up in the day to day to easily, and am quickly overwhelmed with how very much there is to do.

My husband does so many of these little things to make life easier for me, and while I notice and am grateful for them, I do not thank him nearly enough. My commitment this year is to practice more gratitude. Thanks for reminding me to include my marriage in that practice.


Crunchy Con Mommy February 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

In college and the first year of grad school my husband worked at Chili’s so I’ve been warned to avoid the steak, lol. We’ve started doing homemade Valentine’s Day dinners as we realized that we like cooking and can make something really gourmet and delicious for a lot less even than a Chilis-dinner-for-two. This year I made pizza from scratch-including the crust and the sauce and made them heart shaped and used a heart cookie cutter to make the pepperonis heart shaped. It was so delicious he requested I make it part of our normal menu rotation, lol. He did desert this year-ice cream and Oreos and strawberries (my favorite fruit ever and that I haven’t had much in the last 2 years because the toddler is allergic!) I don’t tell people about it like on FB because I know people will not think it was good enough to live up to the hype of the day, but it was perfect for us…and none of their business!


Magen February 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

Amen :)


Kristin February 12, 2014 at 11:12 am

I’m so glad you re-shared this. I love it so much. It brought tears. Lately, I’ve been feeling really guilty over not planning a date night and didn’t even think about how I can show love in the day to day. Thank you!


Tragic Sandwich February 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

I still love this post. Thanks for sharing it again!


Ana February 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Loved it then and love it even more now, because I really am consciously trying to make those little choices, every day…its hard but worth it. And you are so right, the dress-up dates are fun, but we were having regular dress-up go-out spend money dates and were still drifting further apart because we weren’t focusing on the day to day…the 99% of the time, that does count way way more than that 1% “special date night” time.


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