We’re bringing back our parenting expert, Alex, to share with us her top tips for maintaining a strong marriage while raising kids. As always, she’s as real as they come and her advice is legit. Check it out:
Both of my parents have been divorced multiple times. As a result of this, there have been many arguments with my husband over the years where I have caught myself thinking, “Oh no, this must mean we’re heading for divorce.” This thought is irrational though, because in reality, building a strong marriage takes work and no relationship is perfect. I don’t think you can find any couple who have been married 20 plus years who would not attest to this. Add parenting into the mix and a whole new level of stress comes into play.
Recently, I talked to several couples who have maintained a strong marriage while raising kids. Each of them now have kids in their 20’s and are still happily married (and even enjoy each other’s company.)
Based on these recent conversations, here are “7 Tips for Maintaining A Strong Marriage With Kids.”
Let’s be honest, kids can be stressful but they are also hilarious. Finding humour in what feels like a stressful situation can do wonders for a relationship. For instance, a few months ago my husband and I had an argument while drinking our morning coffee. The rest of the morning was plagued by our grumpy moods. At some point in the early afternoon, our daughter said something about how “Daddy sure is grumpy,” and as soon as she said it we both instantly looked at each other and laughed. There was something so funny about the tone she used, and from that moment onwards the day took an amazing positive turn. At the end of the day, learning not to take ourselves too seriously and being able to laugh with our partner during stressful times can help maintain a strong marriage.
2. Find Individual Happiness
Do you love running? Yoga? Time with friends? Find what makes you happy and make sure you take some time throughout the week to do just that. For me, I find it so easy to get lost in motherhood and I often forget to take care of myself. When I’m not doing some of the things that make me happy, I find myself being more impatient as a parent and as a wife.
3. Focus On Asking Your Partner What They Need In Moments of Stress
I love this advice that came from my aunt and uncle who have 3 grown kids and have been married for over 20 years. Focusing on ‘what can help lessen your partner’s load’ and on ‘what can help make your partner happy,’ takes the shift away from the idea that “I’m not getting what I need,” when times are tough. When we focus on how our partner is not living up to our expectations, resentment begins to build. If left to fester, resentment has the power to poison a relationship. So, the next time your spouse is particularly grumpy, step back and ask them “what do you need.” This is a powerful sentence that can diffuse tension and open a conversation up in a non-confrontational way.
4. Be Open
We all come from different backgrounds and we have all had different life experiences. As a result, we each see the world through our own lens. I often struggle with this as I frequently think “my way is best.” However, my way certainly isn’t the only way of doing things. When we are open to accepting, listening and understanding another person’s parenting style and ideals then the relationship becomes stronger. This is due to the fact that each person is working together to gain understanding on how to better function as a family unit.
5. Help Your Partner Be The Best Person They Can Be
I think this is a powerful way of looking at a marriage. Sometimes we can get caught up in checks and balances. For example, who’s done the most kid related work tonight, this week etc. None of this is helpful in the long run though, and only leads to resentment on both ends. Looking at the bigger picture when it comes to parenting, and reminding ourselves what sacrifices are being made to better the family unit as a whole, can go a long way in maintaining a strong marriage.
6. Take time together
Taking time to remember that you love and enjoy the company of your partner while parenting children is really important. This can be something like scheduling a monthly date night or even something as simple as eating dinner together without the kids. I love having a morning coffee with my husband and sitting and chatting for a while after the kids go to bed. These moments, even small ones, can help nurture your relationship when in what feels like the you’re constantly “in the throws of parenting.”7. Spend time with each of your kids individually
Spending one on one time with your kids is a great way to build closer relationships with them. It also shifts the family dynamic when one kid is out on a special date which can be refreshing. It’s really easy for both adults and children to fall into our ‘role’ within the family unit. Taking time to nurture each individual relationship can go a long way in strengthening a family as a whole.
What other tips do you have for maintaining a strong marriage while parenting?