Most people get married because they love their other half with a passion. They want to spend the rest of their life with this person, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, married life often goes downhill once kids come along, so let’s look at how you can maintain a strong, happy relationship and still be a great parent.
When your man presented you with an engagement ring from Adiamor.com, did your heart skip a beat? If so, you are not alone. A marriage proposal is a special event. It is that perfect moment when you see a wonderful future all mapped out, the two of you, creating a family and living happily ever after, or at least that’s how you imagine life is going to pan out.
Planning a dream wedding becomes the next priority, and then once you both settle into married life, no doubt the conversation turns to having children. Most couples romantically discuss having kids. They choose names and imagine what a great parent their other half will make. What they gloss over, however, is how difficult raising kids can be, and how much it can affect your relationship.
Placing Children at the Center of the Family Universe
Once kids come along, your relationship is no longer a priority. Taking care of the kids takes precedence, especially for moms. This is perfectly normal when children are very young, but it can cause problems if you let it continue.
Too many parents pour all of their energy into their children. Every waking moment is spent feeding and nurturing their children. Their kids are the apple of their eye. Mom does all the school runs and looks after the practical things, and dad takes the kids to the park at the weekend.
By the time you have run yourself ragged chasing after kids, ferrying them to after-school activities, and finishing the chores, is it any wonder you don’t have any energy left over for your partner?
If you are not careful, your relationship will become little more than a cohabiting arrangement where you talk about nothing apart from the kids. Putting the kids at the center of your universe is only right when they are newborn babies, but kids need to learn their place in the family hierarchy.
Children love to be the center of the universe, but it is not healthy for them or for you. You need to make time for your relationship. The more you ignore your relationship, the faster the cracks set in. A healthy marriage is a foundation for a happy family. Parents who devote their energies to the children encourage a child’s bad behavior and create emotional distance in the marriage.
You might think your marriage is doing just fine, but when was the last time you spent quality time with your spouse without the kids taking center stage?
It is very hard to have an adult conversation when you have a toddler demanding more juice or an older child pleading with dad to kick the ball around. Too many parents give in to the demands of their children because it helps to keep the peace, but organizing activities each weekend so your kids are kept busy is not helpful to them or you.
Nurturing Happy Children
Children need to learn that they are not the center of the universe. The sun does not rise and set around them and their parents have a life away from the family home. It might be an unwelcome announcement to a demanding toddler with a Napoleon complex, but it will help them grow into nicer human beings.
The more you pander to a child’s demands and ignore your spouse’s needs, the quicker your marriage will unravel. Healthy marriages need nurturing, just like plants. Kids know when their parents are unhappy. No matter how many fun activities you plan in an attempt to disguise the fact your marriage has cracks deeper than the Grand Canyon, your kids will be able to tell things are not good between you two.
Two parents who barely have anything to say to one another is not a healthy atmosphere. You probably assume that because you don’t argue or scream at each other, everything is great. However, this is not the case. Emotional distance is more insidious and far more damaging to a marriage. It also sows the seeds of childhood insecurity, and insecure children are not happy campers.
Make Your Spouse a Priority
If you want a successful, happy marriage, your spouse needs to come first. The parenting years are difficult, but they don’t last forever. Eventually, your kids will fly the nest and make their own way in the world. When that happens, it is just the two of you left at home. Do you want to be one of those couples that sit in silence at the dinner table because they have nothing to say?
Teach Your Kids the Art of Self-Entertainment
Kids are needy, demanding, and apt to throw a tantrum if they feel ignored, but it is healthy for them and for you if they learn how to entertain themselves.
You and your spouse need to do adult things from time to time; even it’s just having a cozy lie in on a Sunday morning or reading the newspapers in peace.
If your kids are used to having your undivided attention, they will probably react badly if you tell them to go play in their room for an hour. However, it won’t kill them. Say you and your spouse need an hour’s peace and if the children play nicely on their own you will do something fun as a family.
Kids need to learn how to play on their own. It helps them grow into self-sufficient adults. Part of the problem with the Snowflake Generation is that they have grown up in a world where an anxious parent takes care of their every whim. Don’t be that parent. Your kids will survive if you ask them to stay in their bedroom and play with Lego for an hour. Yes, really!
Be Nice to Each Other
The small things make or break a marriage. Forgetting to put the trash out every week or not helping at bath time causes toxic resentment to build up over time. Conversely, thanking your spouse for helping out or buying flowers on a whim keep a marriage alive.
Make an effort to be nice and do nice things, even if you don’t always feel like it. The nicer you are, the nicer they will be in return.
Make Time for Date Nights
You need to spend quality time alone with your partner. Since there is a limit to how much quality time you are likely to have at home with the kids around, schedule in a date night at least once a month.
Book a babysitter or ask the grandparents to have the kids for an evening. Go out for a meal or take a nice stroll together. There are plenty of things you can do that cost nothing if money is tight. You could even sign up for a night class together, or join a dance group. The quality times you spend together are a chance to catch up on life. Make a point of not discussing the kids at all. Instead, pretend you are on a date and do the things you used to do before kids came along and two became three or four… or more!
This is your time to reconnect and remind each other of what life was like before kids came along. Enjoy this special time together. It’s priceless.
Listen to Your Partner
When was the last time you really paid attention to what your partner was saying? Do you tune out their conversation and pay more attention to your children?
It is easy to ignore our partner when we are stressed out, busy with the kids, or just exhausted. Have an adult conversation before bed each day where you each share what happened that day. Talk about the news and discuss current affairs. Use these conversations as a way of touching base amidst the chaos of a hectic family home.
Intimacy is often the first casualty when kids come along. Night feeds, an insomniac toddler and an endless succession of childhood illnesses spell death for love and intimacy. After all, who feels like being intimate after less than two hours sleep in the previous 48-hours?
Many parents avoid intimacy of any description because they are too tired and stressed for sex. However, intimacy is not just sex. Intimacy is having a cuddle on the sofa or holding hands on a family trip to the park. Make time for intimacy; it is the glue that holds couples together. Sure, you may not feel like sex for a while, but don’t let intimacy disappear for good.
Keep the lines of communication open during the parenting years and don’t let small issues snowball into major problems. Work at your marriage every single day and by the time the kids leave home, you might just fall back in love, all over again.