Monday, May 17, 2010

Keep your marriage alive


Despite the chaos that comes with kids, parents need to stay connected

If you want to put a strain on your marriage, the quickest way is to have children.
All the freedoms, flexibility and spontaneity you once had usually become a distant memory and your energy is now devoted to the little people in your life.
Throw in the sleepless nights, behaviour challenges, and the endless activities of older children, and it’s no wonder parents rarely make time for each other.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Setting a good example is a vital element of child rearing, so if children see their parents communicating well, showing affection and working as a team, this further teaches our children about good relationships.
If parents are together because they love each other and are friends, it will benefit their children’s life, particularly when you have to deal with the more challenging parts of parenting and keeping a home functioning.

According to US family therapist David Code, in his book To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, the key to a happy family is less time with the kids and more with your partner.
The theory goes that if parents take time-out from their children once in a while, we are actually enriching their lives instead of suffocating them with attention.
“Families centred on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children,” Code says. “Parents are too quick to sacrifice our lives and our marriages for our kids.
“A good marriage sets a great example for your children’s future relationships and that’s a win-win for the whole family.”
Parents need to stay connected and remain a team during the child-rearing years. If they can’t find meaningful ways to interact with each other, then the marriage will start to deteriorate and eventually collapse.
There are many ways parents can invest in their relationship without having to spend a fortune, or take extended leave from the family.
Here are some easy tips to keep your marriage healthy:
1. Put the kids to bed early: This is a no-brainer. Putting your children to bed early not only ensures they get enough sleep, but will allow you and your spouse to have time together without constant interruptions.
2. Use babysitters: Even if you can only afford it once a month, get a babysitter so you and your partner can go out and spend time together. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant night, it may simply be going out for a coffee or going for a walk. Make sure you are able to talk to each other, so going to the cinema might not be the best way for you to connect.
Remember that young children may not cope well with a babysitter who is not well known to them, thus causing trauma and potentially further problems when you return, so make sure you get a sitter that your child is comfortable with.
3. Keep in touch: Check in on each other through the day. This doesn’t mean harassing your spouse with endless text messages and phone calls, but an occasional email or SMS to say you are thinking about them will go a long way to helping your spouse have a better day as it lets them know that you care about them, and that they’re on your mind.
4. Be spontaneous: Surprise your partner with flowers, a gift, or prepare a meal before they get home. Planning something special is a great way to get romance back into your relationship, and I would also add that there’s nothing sexier than a man doing housework!
5. Communicate: When you do get time alone without the children, be sure to tell them how grateful you are for the job that they do. Whether your partner stays at home to take care of the children and home duties, or if your partner works full-time, it’s important that both of you express appreciation for all that they do for the family unit.
6. Teamwork: Parenting requires the two of you to remain consistent in the way you raise your children.
Be sure to discuss how you want to parent your kids, and remain a united front. Consistent parenting styles result in less stress and conflict at home, and this often results in better behaviour in your children.

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