Having finished taking a look at 40 Tips to help people look at their marriages and perhaps do them better, i asked some of my friends who have children if any of them had any tips for how to do marriage better when you have children… so here we have some thoughts on Marriage with Kids
BONUS Marriage [with children] Tip #1: Rich Erasmus
My “one tip” overlaps with the parenting vibe and sex … use it or not … really not that sensitive (anymore 😉).
One tip … from a married guy, that has kids … truthfully tell the kids (when they’re ready) why the door is “sometimes locked and at other times it isn’t”.
2 stories … there was that moment when our 6-year-old daughter asked: “Why is your door sometimes locked and other times it isn’t?” … awkward but interesting moment. We clarified that sometimes “mommy and daddy time” becomes a priority … so we lock the door to make it happen.
2nd story … bump forward a couple of years, met a mom that told her (soon to be) teenage sons (two of them) that the reason the door is closed (not even locked) is because the parents were having sex in the room … and if they were foolish enough to walk in on that moment … they would (guaranteed) see things they would never forget.
I suspect the 2nd story is how that conversation should have gone down (although my kid was a lot younger).
I believe in the power of a healthy sex life … it has an incredible ability to “reset” the intimate connection I have with my wife. Powerful … awesome stuff.
But kids (especially younger kids) can get in the way of this.
Unashamedly locking our kids out of our room (or having an overnight date night at a local hotel) … has been something of a lifeline in this area of our marriage.
Very, very happy that this is an area that both my wife and I have continuously invested in … a gift that kept on giving 😉
BONUS Marriage with Kids Tip #2 c/o Melissa Labuschagne and Jean Labuschagne:
We have been married for 6 years and have 2 young kids. Our marriage changed a lot after we had kids, and we had to learn to change with it. We have learned one tip that’s helped us a lot in navigating all this.
Sometimes you can live with someone and talk to them every day for years and still not know how they are. We have found it crucially important to take time out for each other daily. It’s important to actually ask your husband/wife, “How’re you doing lately?” Or “the kids have really taken it out of us lately, how can I make your day easier?” And not just assume you know how they are. It’s the biggest blessing when, after a really really difficult day with the kids or work, your partner asks if they can make you a cup of coffee/make dinner/bath the kids etc.
This can be complicated; the kids are moaning and throwing tantrums (all the time), you have had a really difficult day at work and it’s tough finding a babysitter. Before you had your children you had time to spare, you could go out any night of the week and focus on each other, hearing the intricacies of each other’s hearts. Now that the children are in the picture, time is impossible to find and you’re mostly confined to your house every night. Or just silently hoping for some alone time.
Finding an hour each night to connect with each other, over and above date nights, is one of the most important things in our marriage. Prioritizing your marriage is critical, as it is the foundation of your entire family. We tried putting our children down for bedtime a little earlier so that we could spend more time alone together. There are plenty of times where you won’t be able to keep your eyes open, or when it’ll be tough, but keep trying. Eventually, quality time together will be a part of your routine.
We have even started looking forward to 7pm each night so that we can touch base properly. Not sure if this is helpful to everyone but it’s definitely been really important to us.
BONUS Marriage with kids Tip #3: Hilary Alison Mushambi
Don’t let your children come between you and your spouse.
Adding children to a marriage brings a huge change to the dynamic. Suddenly your concerns are split between your spouse and your children. And children, especially in the early years, are very demanding in terms of time and energy.
To keep your marriage strong you often have to fight to prioritise your spouse over your children. This can be very hard. A baby’s needs are often very immediate and your schedule may be very much shaped by their daily routines.
Toddlers and preschoolers can use up a huge amount of emotional energy if they’re home all day, such that the one at home with them can feel tired and emotionally worn out by the time the other gets home from work. And multiple kids add multiple different needs to the equation.
I once heard it explained with the following illustration: when you get married it’s like you and your husband are sitting together at the back of the bus. As you add children the tendency is for them to sit between you and your spouse. But this is not healthy for the marriage. Instead, it should be a picture of you and your spouse together in the middle with the kids next to you on either side.
How to get this right will be something each couple needs to work out for themselves, but effort needs to be put in to ensure that your spouse does not feel like an afterthought in a life that is otherwise dominated by little people. Be it by committing to do something together in the evenings once little ones are in bed, or by planning regular date nights to reconnect.
However you do it, keeping your marriage strong is also going to serve the little people in long run too.