Many times, I think of doing this. If I was honest with myself, I actually have done this, but it comes out in other ways, like, texting hubby and saying, “Hey, I have a client at 6pm, so I’ll need your help with dinner tonight”. We have 4 children and have recently added 2 new additions. In case you haven’t counted: that’s 6 children in our home under the age of 12 — SIX CHILDREN!!! Even as a marriage & family therapist, the thought of this can make ME cringe. But, this was not a choice that my husband and I took lightly. Each of our 4 children were prayed over, planned (maybe not the timing, but we wanted 4 children), and prepared for. The 2 new additions were also prayed over and prepared for. But, every choice has its rewards and consequences. This is the law of nature. We love our choices, by the way. Children are a gift from God.
So, how do we manage our household, work full-time jobs, AND have time to create and maintain a happy and healthy marriage? I will let you in on a few “secrets” that are not only tried and true for us, but also for many of my marriage clients who have left our therapy sessions feeling like they can go out and conquer the world and their dreams together.
- DAILY Face-to-Face, Love notes, & Text Messages. At some point in your day, you must SEE your spouse, HEAR your spouse, and SPEAK to your spouse. This can come thru a variety of modems: roll over in bed, kisses and saying, “I’m going to miss you today, have a great day at the office!”, a text that says, “I saw a black Explorer like yours and was hoping it was you.”, or a post-it note in their lunchbox or vehicle that says, “Good luck with that meeting, praying for you.”
- Quiet Time Alone Without Children. There is more than one reason for kids to have a bedtime. Of course, they need their rest & to be able to wake up feeling refreshed. But you and your spouse need time for each other EVERYDAY! This works best for us in the evenings, but for your relationship, it might be early morning coffee before the kids wake up or an early morning run around the block while the kids are still sleeping. When you make time to be together with no real agenda, you learn to naturally trust each other. Regardless of what is going on or how life gets in the way, I KNOW that I have my husband all to myself during this “quiet time” everyday.
- Teamwork. This can’t be stressed enough, just how important teamwork is. No one spouse can do anything alone, especially if you have children. If your home is a 1 income household, this doesn’t mean that the wage earning spouse is the only one working. The other spouse should be right there working alongside them. It can look like this (although this is just one example, there are many other ways to do this): at-home spouse reviews over working spouse’s schedule, asks for ways to be a support (make a full breakfast bc it’s a stressful workday, set up a lunch date bc it’ll be a long work night, take the suits to the cleaners bc there is an upcoming speaking engagement). For 2-income couples, it might look like this: Mon, Wed, Fri, kids are picked up by dad, so mom can get dinner ready. Tues, Thurs, kids are picked up by mom, so dad can get his workouts in.
- Time with Kids Without the Other Spouse. Let’s face it. Moms and Dads parent very differently. It’s ok!!! Kids need to know there is a time/place to have fun and a time/place to be serious. They need us both in very different ways. My children know that every Wed is our library day to check out books, read with no distractions and they LOVE IT. But, they also know that they are with Daddy on Mondays and that is their day to get candy/sodas at the convenience store and watch TV even when Mommy doesn’t like it and they LOVE IT. Again, it’s ok!! Kids need to learn to adjust to different surroundings with different people. They can learn this at home.
- WEEKLY Date Nights. People often look at me like I have 2 heads when I tell them this is a MUST. But, if my husband (who happens to be a very busy football coach, children’s coach and associate pastor of a large church) and I can do this with 6 children, SO CAN YOU!!! It takes discipline, it takes financial sacrifice at times, but it is the practical glue that holds your marriage together (God is the spiritual glue). There are 4 rules to Date Nights:
- No discussions about kids or extended family
- No discussions about finances or problems
- Enjoy the Here and Now moment
- Dreaming and making future goals is allowed
- Protect Your Most Intimate Relationship. I’m talking S…E…X… Men, your wife has to feel safe in order to allow you into her, literally. This takes time and preparation on your part to create the atmosphere throughout the day to make her feel safe and secure with you. Women, your husband needs respect to enjoy sex with you instead of making it bing, bang, boom and that’s it. This also takes preparation and work on watching our words and attitudes towards our husband. Men have a physical need for sex, this has been proven. Women have an emotional need that involves physical connection, not necessarily sex. But, if men give their wives emotional and physical connection, they will likely get sex. If women give sex, women are likely to receive emotional & physical connection. That’s how God created us and that’s an entirely different blog…. lol.
Husbands and wives with children, don’t allow the title of this blog to happen to your relationship. Stay connected, give love, and expect sacrifice. IT IS WORTH IT!!!