“I was in crisis mode.”
“I never thought he/she would do this.”
“I thought we’d have time when the kids got older.”
When you have young children, it's easy to get caught up in the demands of parenthood and let your marriage take a backseat. You think that there will be time later, after the kids are older, to work on the relationship.
However, this approach can lead to major problems in a marriage. One partner may build up so much anger and resentment that they don’t know if they can get over it. One partner may start an emotional affair.
Plus working on your marriage while your children are young is crucial for the overall well-being of your family. Your marriage is the foundation on which your family is built - your family thrives when your marriage is strong. By nurturing your relationship, you create a stable and loving environment that benefits not only you as a couple but also provides a positive and secure space for your children.
Tips for Working on Your Marriage with Young Kids:
· Prioritize couple time: Set aside dedicated time for just the two of you. It doesn't have to be grand gestures; even simple activities like taking a walk together, cooking a meal, or having a date night at home after the kids are asleep can strengthen your bond.
· Communicate Honestly and Often: If you’re upset about something, share it you’re your partner in a loving way. Use I messages – I feel frustrated when you don’t help with putting the kids to bed because I’m so tired at the end of the day. Can you please help me put the kids to bed? Make it a priority to have open and honest conversations regularly. Share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns, and actively listen to your partner.
· Seek Marriage Counseling and Support: Don't hesitate to go to a marriage counselor if things aren’t getting better. The earlier that you do this, the better. There are many options such as attending a marriage workshop, reading relationship books, or seeking professional counseling from a trained marriage counselor.
· Show Gratitude: Telling your partner what you’re grateful for and acknowledging each other's contributions goes a long way in nurturing your marriage. Recognize and express gratitude for the small gestures, support, and efforts each of you makes in your daily lives.
· Divide and Conquer: Share the responsibilities of parenting and household chores. Many times partners will fall into stereotypical gender roles without having a conversation about what each of you wants. It’s important to discuss how you’re going to create a balanced partnership so you’re both happy.
· Find Shared Interests: Discover activities or hobbies you both enjoy. Engaging in shared interests fosters connection and allows you to have fun together, taking a break from the demands of parenting.
· Practice Self-Care: You hear this a lot – it’s important to take care of yourself. Many parents put taking care of themselves last when they have young children. But When taking care of yourself is important to your relationship and to your family. Prioritize self-care activities, set boundaries, and communicate your needs to create a healthy balance between personal and family life.
Working on your marriage while your children are young is an investment that benefits your entire family. By prioritizing your relationship, you strengthen the foundation of your family, model healthy relationships for your children, and create a nurturing and loving environment. With these practical tips, you can actively nurture your marriage and foster a strong and fulfilling partnership, even in the midst of the demands of parenthood.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.