In case you haven’t figured it out already, marriage is hard work and having kids doesn’t make it any easier. The level of communication, commitment and patience needed to keep it all going can seem impossible at times. But as they say, “it takes two to tango,” and if you want your marriage to work you have to show up for each other. So here are 12 ways to help your marriage survive parenting.
- Don’t Keep Score. Keeping score of what you did vs what your spouse did is a sure fire way to ensure everyone loses in the end. I am sure if you take a moment to really think about all that gets done you will realize that your spouse does more than you think. You guys are on the same team so you should be rooting for each other and working together to win.
- Give each other time away. When you are a parent, me-time is a necessity. Both of you need opportunities to step away to get a moment to refuel. Whether it’s an hour for a workout or a weekend trip with friends, respect that both of you need time away all to yourself for a little selfcare.
- Communicate. It’s cliché but communication is key. Don’t assume that your spouse knows what is going on in your head. Women tend to be more guilty of this than men. It is necessary to communicate about everything from who should do the dishes to how you want to parent the kids. The more you communicate the more connected you will feel even when times are tough.
- Date each other. Your marriage has to be a priority and you need to find ways to show each other that. Remembering to set aside time for the two of you to enjoy each other as a couple is a big part of that. This is not just about date night but acting like you did when you dated. Send each other sexy text every once in a while, give each other a hot kiss for no reason and have fun flirting. You both want to still feel wanted and know that you find each other attractive.
- Have kid free time. Separate from dating each other, try to find kid free time throughout the day with each other. Just a few minutes here and there can make all the difference…Chat after the kids go to bed, call each other during the day, have coffee together before the kids get up, send each other texts that have nothing to do with the kids. Kids can become all consuming and the next thing you know it seems like that’s the only thing that connects the two of you.
- Physically connect. There was most likely a time the two of you couldn’t keep your hands off of each other and with kids invading your space all the time it’s easy to go days without intimately touching each other. A long hug can help ease the tension right out of the day, a lingering kiss can leave a smile on your lips, and a little sex can make everything seem a lot less stressful.
- Don’t police their parenting. No matter what, you and your spouse will differ in your parenting styles. Your spouse is not going to handle every situation the same as you and vice-versa. You come from different back grounds and different perspectives on parenting. Talk it out, share your ideas and know that sometimes you just need to bite your tongue.
- Relish in the victories. Marriage and parenting are full of highs and lows and it is really easy to get caught up in the lows. But the victories often come hard earned, so, celebrate the wins even when they are small.
- Be each other’s cheerleader. It’s easy to point out the things someone is doing wrong but it feels a whole lot better when someone acknowledges what you are doing right. It always feels good to know you have someone in your corner. You can take on a whole lot more when you know someone has your back.
- Be a team.Kids quickly learn if they can divide and conquer the adults. Even if you disagree, you want to present a united front to the kids. It’s easier said than done but it will make your job as parents a lot less frustrating.
- Get couple’s therapy. Don’t wait until your marriage is falling apart to visit a therapist. Therapy works best when used as a preventative tool. It is always helpful to have someone occasionally mediate your conversations. It’s easy to get stuck sometimes because our interactions can get colored with all the day-to-day crap couples take on. Don’t think of it as some ominous event; think of it as a relationship health checkup.
- Know there will be good times and bad times. Marriage won’t always be sunshine and roses. There will be times you can’t get enough of your spouse and there will be times you can’t seem to connect and you feel like roommates just passing by each other throughout the day. There will be times you might want to karate chop your spouse in the throat and there will be times you want to wrap your arms around them and thank your lucky stars.
Having kids can easily add more chaos and stress to a marriage but finding ways to invest in your marriage on a daily basis can help keep the two of you feeling like a team and help your marriage not only survive parenting but thrive.
Elisha Beach is a stay-at-home mom to four kids and stepmom to 4 step-“adults”…Yes, you read that right—eight kids. She is a wife, home cook, taxi driver, herder of children, terrible housekeeper and founder of The Mom Forum.
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