I love my husband to pieces... but I found myself falling to pieces as more time passed between authentic moments to connect.

In my mind, life was supposed to get easier. I'd quit my full-time corporate job, fallen into a routine of research and writing and really taken control of our family calendar, which includes not even a handful of therapy appointments for our son, who has Down syndrome.

But as we tightened our budget to accommodate this new shift to "easy street," we dismissed opportunity after opportunity to leave the kids with a babysitter and indulge in some us time.

What I learned is that time isn't an indulgence. It's necessary.

Trading date night for eye contact

Once a week, our beloved children's caregiver spends the day with the kids so I can hole up in a coffee shop and tackle my obsession with writing. The day provides tremendous mental balance for me, since of course I toss in a few errands and savor an aisle-by-aisle Target expedition.

But our routine had become... a regimen. We were missing some much-needed adult moments of conversation and connection.

Last week, I set out with a lengthy to-do list and a heavy heart. The Husband and I had fallen into a routine, all right. Silently, we had adapted to individual roles in the morning and again at night, if he was able to get home in time to help put the kids to bed. Don't get me wrong: Some of the best times of my life have come when all four of us are wearing pajamas and tousled hair. But our routine had become... a regimen. We were missing some much-needed adult moments of conversation and connection.

So, I texted a lunch invitation. The Husband ditched his usual local-luncheon-roulette game and met me behind the building, where I'd parked under a lush, leafy tree that cooled my nerves and nicely shaded a People magazine I also sorely needed. (I have two toddlers. People is like a spa day without the tipping.)

Operation soul mate restoration

I got absolutely nothing done and met zero deadlines, but while my to-do list lagged, my soul felt restored.

Within 15 minutes, we were seated on the patio of an upscale steakhouse, enjoying Arnold Palmers and... eye contact. Real eye contact. Real conversation. Of course, we talked about the kids. They're our life! But we also talked about everything and nothing at all. We joked and giggled and mulled over summer plans. I got absolutely nothing done and met zero deadlines, but while my to-do list lagged, my soul felt restored.

We're OK. I always know we're OK. But sometimes, only time together — alone — can set my mind at ease.

More on marriage and parenting a child with special needs

Chasing Charlie: The day I found my family
Need less stress, more soul mate? 6 Tips to compensate!
5 Reasons I'm thankful for my little turkey

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