Parenthood is a life-changing experience for a couple.
Before the kids came along, you probably spent most of your time on intimate conversations, planning holidays and date nights. Now that your hands are busy with diapers or an active toddler, when was the last time you even held hands?
With little mini-me’s who are dependent on your care, and an avalanche of baby-related topics to talk about, the focus on each other as a couple may seem like a flickering flame. So, what can parents do to strengthen their marriage and keep romance alive? After all, you were a couple first before becoming parents, and connecting as individuals keeps the relationship glowing and going.
#1: Think of each other
This might sound easy, but when we are caught up in the busyness of our multiple roles and responsibilities, and focused on getting things done, we probably spend very little time thinking about our better half. Send her a text in the day to say, “I love you”, or, get your wife’s favourite cake to surprise her at the end of a long day. Think of your spouse and let her know that! Thoughts translate into actions towards filling our partner’s love tank, and it is a wonderful feeling to know that someone is thinking of you too, isn’t it?
#2: Speak the right love language
Remember those days when it was just the two of you, and how all that fuzzy lovey feeling was like? Your partner’s love languages are most likely to be the same as before, even with the kids who are vying for your love. According to Gary Chapman who coined The 5 Love Languages, men and women have diverse ways of “feeling” loved, so take a minute to remember what makes your spouse tick. Was it: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, receiving gifts or quality time? These little steps go a long way in helping to keep the marriage going.
#3: Creative communication techniques
Parents often spend most of the day apart from each other, but that should not be a reason for the lack of communication. With technology and some creativity, it is easy to stay connected with your spouse and keep things fresh. No time to meet during the day? Have a quick 5-minute chat, or, send a text via WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber and add a cute emoji, or a funny selfie. It is always nice to feel appreciated for our roles in the family, just like how these mums are sharing their heartfelt thoughts about their husbands for being together as a team. That would help brighten up your husband’s dreary day at work, knowing that his partner for life is always there.
#4: Be more patient with your spouse
Caring for the kids may be a priority, and it is easy to neglect an adult since he or she is not as dependent on you like the kids. Make effort to pay attention to your partner’s needs, even those non-verbal cues, as this little action helps show that you care. Being more patient with your husband or wife when they help with the kids would help affirm their actions positively, and reduces arguments over the children too.
#5: Encourage your kids’ independence
Sneak in pockets of time together when the kids are on their own. Letting the kids develop independence, and enjoy activities on their own allows them to appreciate their own personal space and time too. It is a double win, and both adults get to raise wine glasses and catch up with each other at the end of the work day, or over the weekends, while the kids establish life skills over time. Sounds like a winner!
#6: Plan couple time and don’t feel guilty
Scheduling in couple time sounds easy, but many parents may feel guilty for being away from the children. Parents need time away whether for individual growth or as a couple, and being a parent is only one of the multiple hats they wear. Deliberately planned time together gives both of you something exciting to look forward to (think: endorphins, happy hormones and dates!), and precious quality moments like these are better cherished too. That certainly makes for two happy lovebirds in the marriage.
#7: Get help with the kids
Planning for couple time sounds like the easy part, so, what do you do with the kids? Enlist support from trusted adults who can help care for your little ones when both of you are spending time together. Knowing that the children are in good hands helps make the quality couple time a better one. The last thing you need is to start an argument over the idea of “outsourcing” the childcaring to get more time together.
#8: Understand that there are stages in a marriage
Just like our children’s developmental milestones, there are stages in a marriage too. Post-honeymoon period during the initial wave of all-things-romantic, things may have gotten a little routine until your first child came along. With the new role to grow into, the spouse in you may have taken a back seat for a while, but remember that children are part of the love equation. Pretty sure that the children added some spice to your marriage too!
#9: Don’t be shy about hugging and kissing in front of your kids
Whoever said that public display of affections are reserved for secondary school kids? Married couples hugging and kissing in front of their kids are simply reinforcing that physical affection of love is valued in the family. The human touch is important in healthy relationships, and just as physical affection with our children is completely acceptable, it is surely normal between daddy and mummy – just keep it child-friendly!
#10: Fall in love all over again
It is time to bring back romance and fall in love again with the very person whom you pledged your vows to. With children in the family, it is easy to neglect working on the marriage. Take time to celebrate the both of you, and enjoy the company and love of your better half on both journeys as husband-and-wife, and mum-and-dad during this lifetime.
Like parenting, marriage is a lifelong path which takes effort and commitment to nurture and protect. Marriage is a sacred union that needs just as much love, as we set ourselves as healthy examples to our little ones about marriage and relationships. Raising happy, world-ready children in a marriage of abundance allows children to thrive and learn about from their role models too.