Ask the Expert: Having a Strong Marriage While Being a Parent
“In your seminars, you talk about how one of the best things we can give our kids is a strong and healthy marriage. As much as I agree, my husband and I are finding it hard to even breathe, much less connect with each other. I thought things would get less hectic as our kids got older, but it is only getting worse. How can we, as parents, better maintain our strong relationship when our kids take so much of our time?” (Cathy, wife and mom)
Time is a precious commodity, and time spent with your spouse is priceless, as the commercial would say. Right now, it sounds like you believe you have no control over your time, and that can be a helpless feeling, but I want to help you see things differently.
Did you notice that you said your kids “take so much of our time”? Let’s rephrase that: You are giving your time to your kids. When we say it that way, you have a choice because you can choose NOT to give your time to your kids. In other words, seeing your kids as “taking” your time keeps you in a helpless cycle, unable to stop the pattern.
I know this may seem like I’m parsing words, but it really is a significant point. When we recognize that we have choices in how our time is spent, then we feel more empowered to make better choices. Right now, you’re feeling out of control and perhaps even resentful that your kids are “taking up so much of your time.” But, if you choose to see your role in this pattern (you are GIVING away your time), then you can choose differently.
Maybe it looks like this:
- You realize your kids are overscheduled, which in turn means YOU’RE overscheduled, so you let your kids know that they are now allowed one extra-curricular activity per semester. You learn to rein in the family activities so there will be time for you and your spouse.
- You feel mommy guilt about leaving your kids to spend time with your husband. Can I just say it? Get over it! I know…easier said than done, but if you’re really going to embrace the idea that a healthy marriage is good for your kids, then you’re going to need to take that first step and then watch it get easier!
- Perhaps your kids are dominating your evening time, so maybe it’s time to institute “Husband and Wife” time from 8pm on. Kids have to go to their room (or the basement or wherever), so you can have your own space. Let them know (if they are old enough) that your parental duties are finished for the night. You are no longer Mom and Dad; you’re now husband and wife.
As you begin to take small steps in regaining your time, you’ll find yourself craving those special times together and before you know it, you’ve taken back control of your time and are spending it the way you want.