Let’s be honest. After having kids, it’s tough to make time for your marriage.
Arranging childcare can be overwhelming. The pile of clean laundry needs to be folded. Food preparation is your new Olympic sport.
You have 71 unopened emails in your inbox.
You are both exhausted.
I hear you.
You just don’t have the time.
Did you know that nurturing your relationship has lifelong benefits for you and for your kids?
Investing the time now, will have a huge pay-off later.
Here are four reasons to get you excited about taking guilt-free time to nurture your relationship:
The united front
Partners who nurture their relationship are able to communicate consistently with each other and parent as a united front. They are able to talk about parenting choices, and approach their interactions with their children in a similar manner.
Being clear about your parenting style as a couple, gives your children a sense of security. When each parent has different rules, this leaves children feeling confused, and unstable. They need clear boundaries that are maintained by both parents. Having this ‘united front’ gives your children a stable foundation.
For example, if you were going on a trip and the pilot announced “Hello passengers! My co-pilot and I are just figuring out our route today. We are not sure about the exact time of arrival, but stay tuned.” Imagine how unsettling that would feel. The pilots are supposed to know where they are going! It’s the same for children. They need to see that you are co-pilots, following the same route, with the same destination.
It’s all in the repair
Couples who are able to work through conflict are teaching their children important resolution tools. We are all human. We make mistakes. We overreact. Conflicts, miscommunications, and frustrations are guaranteed to happen.
Let’s call these moments, “ruptures”.
Show your children that after a rupture, you can work through these heated moments together. It is invaluable for children to see your process, and know that you can repair your ruptures. We want them to know that relationships are not perfect, but that they are a journey that you are choosing together.
Sit down together and include them in your experience. Help them understand that
- It’s okay to have big feelings and to have disagreements
- You still accept and love each other for having big feelings and disagreements
Modelling the practice of rupture and repair shows children that disagreements do not mean that love is lessened or withheld in challenging moments. You are showing them that you can love each other (and them) even when you have differences.
Fulfilled parents = fulfilled kids
When parents are fulfilled in their adult relationships, they do not rely on their children to fill the emotional gaps. This gives children confidence to explore the world, knowing that there is a secure base to come home to. When they sense that you can take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically, they trust that you will be able to take care of their needs too.
When a parent (often unintentionally) looks to their child to validate them, listen to their problems, or rely on them for emotional support, it creates a sense of insecurity for the child. It can make them feel like they have to take care of the parent, which takes away from important emotional growth.
Having a strong partnership, allows you to approach parenting as your best self, without burdening your child unnecessarily.
Modelling their future relationships
The little intricacies of your relationship are a show that has a daily sold-out crowd of your biggest fans; your kids. They see how you engage with each other every day. Even when we try to hide tension in our relationships, they feel it, whether they can name it or not.
They know your exact tone of voice when you are mildly irritated.
The eye roll you give your partner when they forget to put gas in the car…again.
The loving bum-tap at the kitchen sink that you think goes unnoticed.
Children are intuitive, smart little beings. What they learn now, will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Your relationship will be the model of how your kids treat their future partner, and how they, in turn, allow themselves to be treated in their adult relationships.
Be thoughtful and considerate with each other as a daily practice. It is important for kids to see that their parents have fun together! You have hobbies and interests outside of domestic family life.
By taking time for your couple, you are teaching your kids the value of romantic relationships and giving them permission to make theirs a priority down the road.
Now that you know the lifelong impact you are having on your kids, go plan some special time with your love. This little cheatsheet will give you actionable tools to make time now. Get out of the house and have some fun together! Your kids will thank you.