My husband and I were traveling home after a long weekend away with our family. Our daughters were peacefully sleeping in the back seat, and I found myself reminiscing over the past years that we’d shared as husband and wife—years that almost seemed a blur, due to the busyness that comes with juggling a family with the many demands of life and work. I’m grateful that despite the many challenges we’ve faced, our marriage has remained strong and the two of us well connected.

When my husband and I were first getting to know each other, I had a blissful, if slightly naïve, view on marriage. I assumed that if we were meant to be, then our marriage would simply flow. I despised the thought of having to work to build our relationship; after all, scheduling times to meet and spend together is what we did when we were dating. Once we were married, we’d see each other all the time, and I expected that to be enough to defuse any issues. Spontaneity was important to me, and I really wanted to allow our marriage the freedom to blossom on its own.

I soon realized, though, that like all things that matter most in our lives, even our marriage took time to maintain and nurture. Making my deadlines, keeping my appointments, and being thorough in my work have always been important to me, but that same concept has been so difficult to translate into my marriage. I realized that making time to build my marriage was a vital element of staying connected with my husband, and I had to accept that this wouldn’t just happen on its own.

While there are the romantic moments in a marriage—those tender times and special occasions that seem to encapsulate the love and respect you feel for each other—there also often need to be thought, effort, and time put into it—even if it means spontaneity has to play second fiddle.

The reality is that if we make time for each other—time to talk about ourselves, time to relax in each other’s company, time to express our love, time where we can put aside the busyness of our day and share a quiet moment together—we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to grow in our relationship.