Life before kids. If you have children, it may be a challenge trying to remember what life was like without them! The change a new baby makes in a family unit is so jarring that your brain may be reset and memories of your pre-offspring life can elude you. This shock to the system can affect marriages negatively and create distance and discord between a husband and a wife. If this is the case in your marriage, you must work to keep it solid and prevent parenthood from destroying your union. Consider these tips:
Save the Date
Remember when you first fell in love? You dated one another and kept the romance alive. You spent hours, days, and even weeks staring into each other’s eyes, wining and dining, and living on the passion between you. Maybe you traveled around the world and lived a life of spontaneity and excitement. Once children arrive on the scene, that lifestyle becomes nearly impossible to maintain. All your attention turns to nurturing the new baby in your life. It’s imperative to continue dating, even after you become parents. Find a reliable, trustworthy babysitter who can take care of the tots at least bi-weekly so you can keep the fires burning. Your kids will benefit from you recharging your marriage’s batteries as much as you and your spouse do.
Keep It Sexy
Romance is important outside of the bedroom, but keeping it alive behind closed doors is even more crucial. Kids, especially babies, can be exhausting, and the last thing anyone feels like doing when they’re tired is getting busy in bed. But, it’s absolutely paramount to the health of your marriage to intimately connect on a regular basis. Even if you have to drop the kids off at grandma’s house in order to get some special alone time, do it. Neglecting your spouse in this area is sure to cause the ultimate demise of your relationship. Immediately seek marriage counseling if your love life is DOA.
Make Time for Free Time
The childless have no idea how much free time and free will they’re able to enjoy. Even if you work three jobs, if you don’t have dependents, you’re able to come and go as you please and pretty much do whatever you want. Once kids are involved, that time and freedom go out the window. Short of having a live-in nanny at your beck and call, being a parent consumes your days and nights. Not only is it important to make time to date your spouse, but you also need to make time for yourself. Join a gym, make a hair appointment, or have a latte at your favorite bookstore. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to rejoin your family with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Spouse Comes First, Kids Come Second
So often, a new parent will bump their partner down in priority once a baby comes along. They give all their time and attention to the child instead or considering their spouse’s needs and desires. Understandably, a newborn will require this kind of focused care, but this should be a temporary situation. If you’re still putting your children first after they turn one year of age, you should consider refocusing on your marriage. A husband or wife can be patient for only so long before resentment towards you, and possibly your children, starts to build. Remember, a strong marriage benefits not only you and your mate, but also the entire family unit. Keep that foundation strong and everyone will be happy.
As kids get older, their schedules often become packed with activity. Dad is driving Suzie to piano practice, while Mom is taking Johnny to a soccer game. All this after a day of school and work. Next thing you know, everyone’s eating dinner in their room, or even worse, in the car on their way to the next thing. Believe it or not, this type of schedule can strain a marriage. Busyness is a modern phenomenon that’s affecting us all negatively. It makes time fly by way too fast and we end up realizing that we barely see each other from one day to the next. Cut out an activity or two if you must so that you can sit down to a family dinner several nights a week and reconnect. Most kids would probably rather just spend their time playing outside rather than in structured sports, scouting, or other activities anyway. Clear your calendar and give yourselves a chance to be the family unit you were meant to be.
Prepare for the Future
You’ll always be parents, but you won’t always have to parent. Sad as it may be, kids grow up and go out on their own one day, and the next thing you know, you have an empty nest. You must have a plan for your marriage once this is a reality in your home. Many parents find that they’ve spent decades focusing on parenting and have no idea what to do with each other once the kids are gone. Not only is it fun to plan and have something to look forward to, but preparing for what to do once it’s just the two of you will benefit you once it actually happens. Many sentimental types of mother and fathers dread the day when their kids fly the coop, but this is the time to have a renaissance in your marriage. Consider traveling the world, taking up a new couples’ hobby, or possibly moving to a smaller, easier-to-maintain dwelling. This is not an era in your marriage to stress about, but one to anticipate with fervor. You’ll be kid-free once again!
These are just several suggestions for how to make your marriage work after becoming parents. The key is to remain a team instead of allowing the arrival of children to make you and your spouse strangers. With a little effort and dedication, you can celebrate that coveted fifty-year wedding anniversary one day, despite the all-consuming madness of raising kids.