Raising kids is a blessing and a privilege, but it can take a HUGE toll on our marriage if we aren’t careful. We must resist the status quo of putting our marriage “on hold” or on “autopilot” while raising our kids. It simply doesn’t work, and here’s why.
When we stop pursuing each other during the childrearing years, the romance slowly begins to die. My husband and I have counseled couples who did this and decided to separate or even divorce simply because they “fell out of love” with one another. This breaks my heart.
When I sat and listened to their stories, I realized that these couples all had one thing in common. Each couple had never taken any time away from their kids.
No dates. No nights away. No vacation sans kiddos.
And, it took a tremendous toll on their marriages. Read “3 Signs You are Caught in the Zombie Marriage Trap” for more on this.
As parents, we want to do everything possible to take great care of our children. Putting them first seems like a valiant thing to do, but its NOT. The very best gift we can give our kids is them seeing and knowing that their parents have a healthy, happy, and loving marriage that they can look to as a good example.
We must prioritize our spouse and marriage before our kids to cultivate and maintain a good marriage. We can do this AND make sure all of our child’s needs are met. This isn’t an “either/or” kind of decision. As parents, we foster emotional stability and the feeling of safety within the hearts of our children when they KNOW their parents are prioritizing their marriage.
There are many ways we can nourish our marriage daily–talking to each other regularly, showing affection, listening intently to one another, leaving each other love notes, putting the kids to bed early to have some alone-time before bed, etc.–but it is extremely important for couples to spend time together AWAY FROM THE KIDS and here’s why:
1. Time away from the kids helps us to remember why we fell in love in the first place.
When my husband, Dave, and I go on a date, I honestly don’t care how snazzy it is. I just want to spend time together…talking, laughing, and reminiscing. We try to go on a date night once a week or at least twice a month. When we go long periods of time without doing this, I can feel it. I become hyper-focused on the kids and a bit resentful of Dave and what he is or isn’t doing right, in my eyes. We talk to each other every day, but its hard to have a focused conversation with four little boys vying for our attention. Our marriage is so much better when we are “just us” for couple hours a week.
2. Spending time away from the kids sends the message to our children that our marriage is important.
Kids need to know that they aren’t the center of the universe. This may sound harsh, but I know too many physically and mentally adept adults who still expect their parents to provide all their needs because they tragically never learned this life lesson. I don’t want us to make the same mistake. Children need to know that Mommy and Daddy want to spend time together regularly because they love one another. Every time we go on a date or take a little time away for ourselves, we are teaching our children that we value our spouse and our marriage.
3. We NEED the time away to grow in our relationship.
Some of you are reading this blog and thinking, “Must be nice! We would go on dates or short trips together if we had the time and money, but we have other needs that come first.”. Friends, I’ve been there. I get it. Life is expensive, and there’s simply not enough time in the day. But, please hear me out. Is your marriage important enough to make the sacrifice? I sure hope your answer is a resounding “Yes!”. It might take some creative time management and serious budgeting, but I promise that you will never regret taking time away from your kids to work on your marriage. It is like a breath of fresh air to your relationship and family.
4. Making the effort to spend time alone together lets our spouse know that we love being with him/her.
The more effort we make to spend time alone with each other, the more it shows that we actually ENJOY being together. Sadly, there are many couples who would rather do anything than spend time with each other. This isn’t an accident. If we stop pursuing one another and stop spending time alone together, then we become more like roommates and less like lovers. We get to the point where it’s awkward to be around each other, and we feel insecure about what to do or say. Don’t let this happen, Friends. We must fight for our marriages, and getting time away together is ESSENTIAL to keeping our marriages strong.