If there’s one thing that will throw a wrench in married-life, it’s kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are a tremendous blessing and source of fun and laughter, but they can also be whiny, energy-draining monsters that can suck joy at the drop of a hat.
No matter what their ages, life gets more complicated with kids and busy with activities, homework, chores, meal preparation, bedtimes, carpool, and on it goes.
Much of how our family functions is learned and passed down through the generations. Each generation either adopts what their family did, or goes to the other extreme vowing to manage their family vastly different than the previous generation.
Either way, your past influences your present. Your present will influence your kids’ future.
How wonderful would it be to pass along a simple, loving, passionate, adventurous marriage to your future generations?
It can be done, and it’s easier than you think.
It begins by slowing down and making a note of all you do in your marriage during a typical week. Seriously, take a moment and write down your typical week of married life. Don’t list what you do for your children, job or career, or the house, but the things you do with your spouse.
If you’re like most people, this little exercise will be a bit disheartening. You’ll likely see that your marriage is often pushed aside for other things. It’s so easy to replace what’s truly important with what is an immediate distraction.
Research is now revealing that when priority is placed on the marriage and not the children, the children – and not surprisingly – the marriage benefit.
Can you guess the second highest timeframe for divorce?
Now statistically second, people are divorcing after 20 plus years of marriage. The reason? The kids are gone and there’s little to hold the couple together.
Here are a few ideas to help you make your marriage a priority:
1. Steal moments together.
If you have young children in the house like I do, it’s often difficult to find times to connect with your spouse. Take advantage of bedtime routines. My wife and I have short discussions while the kids are in the bathtub. We sit together on the deck after they go to bed. Look for moments throughout your day. You’ll likely find many opportunities.
2. Make it clear you love your spouse.
It’s been stated that one of the best things you can do for your children is love their mom/dad. This is true, but it goes beyond just saying it. Sit together while watching a movie or TV show. Hug, kiss, talk, and cuddle in front of your kids.
3. Play together as a family.
Go on walks, ride bikes, eat outside, play, go to the playground. Don’t push only your kids in the swing, push your spouse as well. It’s the little things you can do together that will create lasting bonds for your marriage and your family.
4. Go on dates.
Take advantage of family members who live close by or contribute to the economy of a local teenager by hiring them to babysit so you and your spouse can go out for an evening. It may take some planning, but it’s worth it. Make a point to have an evening alone with your spouse at least once a month.
5. Give up screen time.
We have gone without the TV several times in the past couple of years and it’s amazing to see what that did for our marriage. Limit the shows you watch or the time you spend on a computer or smartphone. Use that time to talk; do little projects together; or spend your time in other pursuits (wink, wink). Give up screen time for a week and see what happens.
Clutter distracts, adds chaos, and drains energy from life and your relationships. If you want to give your marriage a boost, declutter the master bedroom. Nothing can kill a romantic moment like embracing your lover, kissing passionately, making your way to the bed together only to trip over a pile of clothes on the floor. Spend some time this week decluttering your bedroom. The rest of the house can wait.
Regardless of where you find yourself currently, if you work on making your marriage a priority, your kids will reap the benefits. You will too.