“What kind of marital example are you setting for your children?” was the question couples at a marriage seminar were left to ponder on, as they went on a break. It was a question with many answers, and even before the break was over, the answers filled the atmosphere.
There was a school of thought that believed children should be shielded from the negative parts of their parents’ marriage, they should only see their parents in loving mood, praying and doing nice things, while another school of thought believed the children should be exposed to both the good and the bad, so they have a realistic view of marriage.
And there were the set of people who believed that the notion of “My children are my husband”, which quite a number of women hold, has done a whole lot of damage to the marriage institution. Now, this was a different ball of controversy. Too many raised voices, and I dare say blood pressure, as everyone tried to put forth their point of view.
At the end of the robust discussion, it was tentatively agreed that women were more than likely to put their children before their marriage than a man would.
A man and his wife volunteered to share their story. They were married for five years, before their baby came along and in those five years, they literally lived in each other’s pocket, but as soon as baby arrived, the man noted that his status in the house changed. From number one, he dropped to number two, a priority which his wife even barely had time for, asides from providing him with sustenance.
He shared how he had come back from work one day and had been gisting his wife about his day but she was full of news about their son’s day, which she interjected with frequently. He had to keep quiet to hear her out and on that day, he actually felt jealous of his son and the attention he had gotten off him.
They were to talk about it later and found a middle ground but it was a defining moment in their marriage and as their son grew older, they realised that there was a need to create boundaries around their marriage…even with their son.
This led to applause with the Moderator urging other couples to learn from the couple who had shared their experience.
One study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the rate of decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have kids than those who are childless. Another study from Baylor University found that there’s a happiness gap between couples in the U.S. who are parents and non-parents — with the parents losing out.
Of course, kids can add immeasurable happiness to couples’ lives, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a couple that will say (or even think) that they regret having children. But raising kids is no joke, and it can definitely challenge your ability to put your partner and his/her needs first.
Finding the right balance in being a parent with being romantic partners is not easy, many couples struggle with finding a way to have it all.
Having a child is such a powerful experience, and a couple can forget what brought them together in the first place; their love and affection for each other before their kids existed. I don’t know about others but there’s a mindlessness attached to loving your child that’s way different from your spouse, and for me, that’s where the issue is. If only, we can love everyone that way.
Anyways, while we work on that mindless love, there are some practical tips we can use to guard our marriages from break up.
- Priotise your romantic love just as your parental love
Oftentimes, partners are made to feel as though they need to choose between their partner and children, but it’s not about choosing one over the other. Rather, it’s about building a family culture where your connection with your partner is seen as just as important as your connection with your kids.
Keeping the marital relationship front and center can go a long way towards overall balance.
- Take a child-free trip
This honestly does wonders for a relationship. While a full-on vacation may be tough, but a long weekend without the kids may be just what the doctor ordered.
Just think about it: No kids around not only gives you more time for physical connection, but it also means you can kick back together without interruption — no whining, no demands, just the two of you blissing out on the love that made you want to start a family in the first place.
There are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, you should be able to have some physical and time boundaries that your kids don’t cross, except in the case of an emergency.
For instance, your bedroom should be a kid-free zone, free from kid clutter and designed for romance and couple time. Similarly, when you put your children to bed, they should be taught to respect that, and stay in bed, allowing mom and dad to have some time alone.
Sure, the rules can be broken when someone has a tummy ache or something, but working to establish and maintain boundaries that allow you to connect to your husband one-on-one, even if it’s just to talk, is important.
- Put sex on your schedules
Sounds a bit unspontaneous and it is. But it’s often the only practical way to make sure you keep your intimate relationship on your to-do list. Besides, scheduled sex is better than no sex at all.
We all like to look forward to good things. Consider it foreplay. If you know you will have together-time later in the week, make sure to throw some meaningful looks and physical contact into the mix in advance. It could go further than you’d think.
- Do one romantic thing a day
It sounds easy, but odds are you’re not doing this now. Keeping it simple, find out what your partner’s love language is and speak it…often; perhaps, they like notes or text messages, a hug, a massage, help with chores. Speak your partner’s love language.
It will make difference in the long run.
Whatever, you do, remember, it all started with the two of you, before the child(ren) came along.
Stay in love!
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