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Keep Your Marriage Strong While Raising Children
Being married can be a challenge whether you have children or not. You have peaks and valleys in your relationship. The good times are really good, and the bad times are a testament to your growth.
When you have children, they throw in a new wonderful dynamic to your relationship, but there is also a new challenge.
It is hard to have a conversation with your partner that sticks to one topic when you are trying to clean up oatmeal your toddler dropped from his high chair or when your parenting skills are needed when reading a story.
When your kids get older, there are school programs, sports, plays, or a variety of other things you will be attending.
You cannot forget that you have a partner in all the organized chaos that sometimes occurs when your children are demanding much of your time.
Sometimes it comes down to saving your marriage while trying to be a good parent
Your Children Need Guidelines
From the time you bring your children home from the hospital until they graduate from high school, you need to have set guidelines to give them structure and for you to keep your sanity.
- Try to keep them on a schedule, which keeps you on a schedule. Children want to know what to expect at home, which carries over into school then a job. Structure provides security for all in the household. When they are babies and toddlers, have a set time for them to eat, play, and sleep, and stick to it. Make appropriated adjustments as they grow.
- Teach your children not to interrupt. Many parents stop everything to listen to a child. Unless it is an obvious emergency, make them wait to speak so you can finish what you are saying to your partner, friend, mother, or whomever. They learn respect and you are able to keep your adult identity.
- You and your partner must agree on age appropriate discipline, or you will have arguments. Your children will pick up on this and either be stressed out, which will stress you out, or they will take advantage of the disagreement on discipline and pit you and your partner against each other. No, your children are not bad, they are just testing the limits. Establish the discipline with your partner, stick to it, so you do not put your children in a position of “ruling the roost.”
What Does Giving Children Guidelines Have to Do with Keeping Marriage Fresh?
If you have a schedule for your household, you will have time to spend with your partner. Does a schedule always work? Heck no! You will be thrown curve balls, but if your children have structure, they have a way of dealing with the curve balls, too. When supper is ready, your children will be, for lack of a better word, trained to be at the table, plus, it is great family time. If you and your partner set aside story time or play time, your children will have the required attention from loving parents. If your children have a set bedtime, preferably a couple of hours before your own bedtime, you will be able to have adult time.
Teaching your child not to interrupt by saying in a strict tone, “Be quiet while we talk then you can talk when we are finished,” lets them know what is appropriate in many different situations. You do not have to be harsh if you start teaching them not to interrupt early, which will teach them respect for others thoughts and words. It will also help you and your partner have a conversation. Allowing your children to dominate the communications in your home is going to hurt your relationship with your partner. You and your partner need attention, too.
Agreeing on the appropriate discipline is going to keep arguments about your children to a minimum or to none at all. You must agree on discipline, or your whole household will be disrupted.
Special Ways to Keep Your Marriage Fresh
You and your partner need to set aside time for each other, not only at home with the kids but away from home, too. Since you do have children, you have noticed that some of the romance has been neglected and kicked to the curb. While throwing out the romance is sometimes necessary, it is just as necessary to keep it alive, rather than letting it die in the gutter.
- Have a date night. It is more difficult to keep things spontaneous when you are trying to keep the scheduled home life for family structure. That’s okay, though. You need to spend time with each other by going out to eat, seeing a movie, playing miniature golf, riding go-carts, going on a picnic, or whatever you both agree is fun. Yes, you are going to feel guilty because you have left the little ones at home, but stop it from seeping in and ruining the date. Do not make more than one phone call to check on the children. You and your partner spend most of your time with your children, and not only deserve your own fun time, but you owe it to your relationship. Consider it an adult guideline and requirement. (Note: If you do not have a reliable babysitter, call your local high school and ask a counselor for a list of responsible teens to call. If you go to church, you can call the youth minister or Sunday School teacher to ask for a recommendation.)
- Surprise your partner. If you can afford it, get a room in a nice hotel. Call the grandparents, aunt, best friend, or whomever you trust, and make arrangements for the night. Send your partner an e-mail or call telling where to meet you. You can go out to eat or you can fill a cooler with wines and beers, cheeses, vegetables, cold boiled shrimp, fruits and whipped cream. Allow your imagination to take over and get into your sexy role. The kids are going to be fine without you for one night. Stop with the guilt because they are probably having fun with the person or people you left them with.
- Try to plan something you both look forward to doing together without children. You are going to have to work harder at being a couple than you did before your kids came along. Sit down and make a list of things you could both enjoy, and be willing to compromise. For instance, your partner may like to play golf while you like to dance. Go play golf or at least drive the cart then go dancing the next time. Be flexible like you were when you dated.
- When you are home, try to flirt with your partner. Wink, kiss, hug, and touch. You are letting your partner know with little things that you still feel an attraction, and you can still want to make the other feel special. Sometimes when life’s pressures are weighing on you, it is easy to forget these little things and harder still to feel them. Suck it up and consciously make a note to insert these special seconds into each day. You are also showing your children a healthy, loving relationship between their parents.
- Listen to your partner and be interested in what he or she is doing, whether it is working inside the home or outside the home. If it is important to your partner, make it important to you, too. Do not devalue what your partner does, and try not to complain about things that cannot be changed.
- Discuss things besides the house and kids. Of course you love your home and children, but you have got to come out of that box and have other interests. You can do something as simple as having a common TV show you enjoy watching, sharing music, books, movies, etc. For your own sanity, figure out interests that are your own and/or those you can share with your partner. Wrapping yourself up in your children is not healthy for anyone in the family.
Communications is the Key
You must keep communications open, whether it is face to face, on the phone, or in an e-mail. Make as much of your time together as you can and don’t expect perfection. When raising children, you need to relax and enjoy the times you have together. Remember, when the kids are raised and gone, it’s just you and your partner. Keep working on the relationship so you will enjoy each other without your children. Lose yourself in each other when you can because those times are fewer and farther between when you are raising a family. Keep it real, and keep your common interests independent from your kids. Make it special when you can.
It is so cliché, but time really does fly. Don’t forget why you decided to marry this person. Plan your future around each other, love your kids, and love each other. It can all fit; it’s just a bigger challenge.
© 2011 Susan Holland