“This might be a topic that is touchy. One that you might not want to acknowledge. But, it is something that should be recognized and talked about.”
By Tammy Greene
Yes, its true.
Those beautiful children that you adore more than life itself, might very well be unknowingly hurting your marriage.
I get it.
This might be a topic that is touchy. One that you might not want to acknowledge.
But, it is something that should be recognized and talked about.
My husband and I were married for 5 years before we had children.
In those years we traveled, started businesses, bought a house. But something was missing. . . I wanted children more than anything else.
So, we went for it.
At 28 we had our first child. A beautiful daughter full of love and kindness.
Of course, one wasnt enough, so 5 years later we had our son. A sweet little man so smart and curious.
Having a child, as many of you might agree, is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. To bring a life into this world is beautiful, thrilling, scary, overwhelming and life changing.
What I didnt understand, was the challenges that having children would pose to my marriage.
Would I change the fact that I have children? Absolutely not.
The rewards that come from parenting far outweigh the challenges.
But, having children changed everything.
Suddenly the things that once came easy to my husband and I were hard to come by, like time, connection, intimacy.
The moment we had a child our relationship was changed. In many ways for the better, but in many other ways that were potentially damaging to our relationship.
But, is it really the children that was hurting my marriage?
It is us, as adults causing the damage.
Most often thru neglecting our marriage once children arrived.
No, its not the kids.
Its the grown ups. Its our shifted choices and priorities that can often cause the harm.
Here are 4 ways children you might be hurting your marriage.
1. All the positive energy goes to the kids.
Lets agree on this; kids are amazing but they can be exhausting.
Most days I start with a revised sense of energy. Feeling like Im ready to tackle the day and all it brings.
Then, my son looses his school notebook and begins to cry. And my daughter needs me to sign some last-minute permission slips while we are running late out the door.
I try to stay positive and helpful.
Then my son is crying about his math homework and my daughter needs to run to Michaels to get stuff for a school project.
I try to stay positive and helpful.
Then the kids fight about who takes the cans out to the recycle bin and my daughter has made a mess while trying an experimental recipe in the kitchen.
I try to stay positive and not raise my voice.
Then my son doesnt want to eat what I have made for dinner and both the kids whine about having to help clean the dishes.
Im losing my temper and feeling not so positive and helpful.
The my son argues about having to take a shower and my daughter is making an endless drawn out plea about allowing her watch a certain PG 13 movie.
Ok, thats it! Im done.
Then, in walks husband. He says something I dont even really hear and I lash out taking out my frustrations from the day on him.
Every little bit of positive energy I started the day with is gone. And my husband gets the leftovers; a short-tempered, exhausted woman who just wants to curl up and be quiet.
Ok. Admittedly not so great for a relationship.
My husband deserves better than that.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Once I realized that this was my pattern every day, my husband and I had a talk about it.
He shared how it made him feel that he never got the happy and positive me. I shared with him my exhaustion and frustration.
We brainstormed to come up with solutions.
This is what has worked for us; after the kids go to bed, I take about 20 -30 minutes of me time. I watch a show, read, play a game on my phone. Something that helps me decompress from the day.
After that I feel better, more relaxed and ready to give some positive energy toward my husband. Then we can talk or cuddle without the frustration of the day lingering over us.
Of course, this doesnt happen everyday.
Its not perfect, but it has certainly helped me find ways to devote some positive energy towards not only my kids, but my husband too.
2. The kids have taken over your bed.
When we had kids there was one thing we decided very early on. Our kids were not going to take over our bed.
Once my kids hit about 3 months or so, we transitioned them to their own room and that is where they have stayed.
Of course they have slept with us if they had a nightmare or they were sick or scared. There are many exceptions to the rule.
But, for my own sanity and the sanctity of my marriage, our bed is for us.
But, I know that this is not the case for many relationships.
Here is my question;
If you always have a child in your bed, where do you and your husband get to talk about your day, cuddle, have sex?
If that is happening somewhere else and you are balancing the two just fine, then that is great. More power to you, for sure.
But, most couples I talk to who have their children sleeping with them are not communicating well, are not connecting and are not having sex.
No marriage can withstand this for long and remain happy.
HOW TO FIX IT:
If you do not wish to transition your children out of your bed, then I encourage you to find an alternative location in your house, where there are no children, so that you and your spouse can connect, have sex, talk, or cuddle before bedtime.
Create a special spot in the house that is where you meet for some one-on-one time on a very regular basis.
In order for a marriage to thrive a couple must find space to connect with each other without the distraction or worry of children.
Creating a space for this is crucial to the health of your marriage.
3. There is not any alone time with your spouse.
Here is how my day goes in our house;
I get up and get ready and get kids ready for school, I take the kids to school, try to fit in a workout, come back and work, pick up the kids, get in a little more work, help with homework, make dinner, eat dinner, finish work or chores or errands, get kids set for the next day of school, shower and crash exhausted on the couch at around 9:00.
Im guessing your day is very similar to mine.
Im guessing we are all crashing at the end of the day exhausted.
What was missing in my day?
There is no time for him in it.
HOW TO FIX IT:
The only way to fix that is to be intentional in creating alone time together.
Lets face it, alone time is not going to just magically appear.
There will always be endless things to do, especially if you have children at home. That is just a fact.
So instead of waiting for time to appear, create it.
My husband and I create alone time by having stay-at-home date nights, by dropping the kids at Nanas and going out, by meeting in the middle of the day while kids are in school, by scheduling trips away.
There are many ways we find alone time because we are very intentional about it. It is integral to the health of our marriage to get some time just for us.
Need some other ideas?
Check out 4 Ways To Sneak In More Alone Time.
Alone time is vital for a marriage. It is in those quiet moments where you get the opportunity to reconnect and fall in love again.
Be intentional in creating alone time. It will do wonders for the strength of your marriage.
4. Children take priority over everything.
It is just a fact isnt it? We put our children before everything.
I put my kids before myself, my work, my friends, my hobbies, my health, my happiness, and even the well-being of my marriage.
It is just the way that I am.
Im guessing Im not alone.
But, is that truly what is best for the children?
HOW TO FIX IT:
Im not saying that children should not be the priority. They absolutely should.
But, here is something that I have learned;
Putting myself and my marriage last are not good for my kids.
Yes, children should be a priority, but that doesnt mean that they have to be the only priority 24/7.
I have learned by also taking care of myself, I am a much better mom. I am happier and more patient with the children.
And, I have learned that by also making my marriage a priority, I am teaching my children the importance of a strong family. I am teaching them the value of marriage.
I am showing them that making marriage a priority creates a loving environment in the home and in turn helps them feel happy and secure.
Make your marriage a priority too. Create time to be alone. Be intentional with connection and intimacy.
Having children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive. They bring about a joy unlike any other.
My goal is to the best mom that I can be.
I want my kids to know, without any doubt, that I love them and that I would go to any lengths to make them happy.
But, one of the truths of parenting is that there will come a time where they will move out. Where they will find their own relationship and build their own life.
I want to make sure when that time comes, that my husband and I dont sit in the quiet house and look at each other like strangers.
I want to take comfort in knowing that I put the time and energy into, not only, raising amazing kids but, also into my marriage so that it is still healthy and strong when the time comes to let our children spread their wings.
That is the way we all dream it to be right?
**This post originally appeared on Married & Naked.