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Tips to ensure parenting does not interfere with your marriage

Aaron Anderson Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist The Marriage and Family Clinic
Tips to ensure parenting does not interfere with your marriage

Many couples find their marriage struggling after they have kids. In fact, research shows a sharp decline in marital satisfaction after children are born. But that doesn’t mean you are destined to have bad marriage until your children leave home. In fact, a lot of couples still enjoy a great marriage, even though they still have several children living in the house. The trick is to identify ways to still connect together as a couple, while not letting your role as parents get in the way.


Do

Do set boundaries

A lot of parents do everything with their kids. And many parents seldom spend a moment away from their kids. While it is important to take care of your kids and pay attention to them, it is equally important for you to have your own time. It is also just as important for your children to learn to get by without you always there. Set boundaries between the time you are spending as a parent and the time you are spending as a couple. Feel free to set physical boundaries as well. For example, create a rule that no children are allowed in your bedroom.

Do remember you were lovers first

Many spouses put their partner on the back burner once kids come around. After all, your partner is with you ‘until death do you part,’ but your children are only in your home for 18 years or so. As a result, you want to give your children all of your attention while you have them. And then once they leave the house, you can focus on your partner again. But this is very bad for your marriage--and your children. In order to be a good parent, you have to be a good spouse. Your children need to see what a good relationship looks like, so they can emulate it when they grow up. And if you are putting your partner on the backburner, you are not showing your children what a good relationship looks like. Remember that you were lovers first--and be sure to always treat your spouse like a priority.

Do carve out time for just the two of you

Between your son’s football practice, your daughter’s gymnastics class, parent-teacher conferences and your own 9-5 job, your life is extremely busy. In the hustle and bustle of life, you often forget about making time for just you and your partner. But when you start focusing more on your children’s activities and don’t plan things for you and your spouse, you lose your identity as spouses and as lovers. Remember to calendar in time for just the two of you and don’t move it. Your marriage is just as important as--if not more than--your child’s band practice. And by making time for you and your spouse, you are showing your children what a good marriage is.

Do forget about your children once in a while

Your children are the most important thing in the world. So it is natural that you think about them all of the time. But when you are talking with your spouse, there are other things to talk about other than just the children. When you only talk about your children, you are only talking to each other as parents, and not as lovers. Go ahead and forget about them as you go on your date. Talk to each other as grownups and individuals who have unique interests. You can get back to talking about the kids after you get home.

Do show affection in front of your children

Children need to know what a healthy relationship looks like. In order to know, they have to see. And that means it is okay for them to see you and your partner hold hands, hug, kiss and make googly eyes. Sure, you will hear a predictable “eeew” from them, but don’t let that stop you. It’s not only good for your own relationship, but it is also good for your children.


Don't

Do not let your children get in the way

It is common for parents to automatically assume that children always come first. The problem with this is that it means a lot of parents allow children to get in the way of their marriage. Instead of putting children first all the time, it is okay to put your marriage first at times, and put your children first at other times. It is okay for children to wait a few minutes while mom and dad talk about important things without interruption. And it is okay for children to stay home (depending on their age) while mom and dad run errands together. Children don’t have to be involved in everything.

Do not stop dating

Date nights are extremely important for several reasons. Not only do they set you apart as a couple and create romance, but they help you continually get to know each other as you both grow and change. Additionally, date nights ensure that as you grow, you don’t grow apart.

Do not forget that your spouse is not just the parent of your children

Many conversation end up around the kids--even when you talk to your spouse. But don’t forget that there is more to your spouse than just what they did with the kids that day. Talk to them about what book they are reading, what happened at work or what is going on with friends and family. While you frequently talk about your children, do not forget to also talk to your spouse about your spouse.

Do not stop having sex

After a long day of playing referee, chauffeur and chef, you are just pooped. And even the thought of sex is just exhausting. But sex is a critically important part of your relationship. It’s what sets you two apart as lovers and not just roommates. If the bedroom becomes boring, usually the relationship does too. There is no magic number of how often you should be doing it, but it should be regularly.

Do not stop spending time together

“Divide and conquer” is a motto used by many parents. In other words, one spouse takes their son to basketball and the other takes their daughter to dance practice. This means they separate and don’t see each other until the end of the night. Then it’s off to the laptops to finish up a work project or straight to the basement to finish the dance costume their daughter needs this weekend. But instead of dividing and conquering, use your time together to actually be together. Shutt off your screen, forget about the dance costumer for a night and do something together. You can play card games or start a hobby together--as long as you are spending time together.


Summary
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Being a parent is tough. But it doesn’t have to interfere with your marriage. Parenting and marriage should both be fun. And if one is causing problems for the other, that’s a sign that you are doing something wrong. These do’s and don’ts can help you set boundaries, spend time together and have fun, while ensuring that your children and your marriage are both happy and healthy.


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Aaron Anderson Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He also writes for several publications online and in print all on the topic of marriages, families and men. In his spare time ...

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