Wait, Do I Know You?

Husband, wife partnership

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.

  1.  DAILY Face-to-Face, Love notes, & Text Messages.  At some point in your day, you Post It clipsmust 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Couple in love.jpgWEEKLY 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:
    1. No discussions about kids or extended family
    2. No discussions about finances or problems
    3. Enjoy the Here and Now moment
    4. Dreaming and making future goals is allowed
  6. 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!!!

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5 Tips For A Healthy Marriage

  • Reclaim your date night. Remember staying up all night talking on the phone, or sitting outside in your spouse’s car – just to hear his/her voice a little longer? Did you used to play cards or take the Jet Ski’s out on Saturdays? Don’t give up your date night, just because you have children or because all the bills are due. It is a NECESSITY to learn to play together again. At least once a month, set an appointment to have a date together. Do something you enjoyed before getting married, try something new, and go out to dinner without the kids. And call it a date. Get dressed up or dressed down, whatever fits your personality. The good thing about dates: they don’t have to be costly. Just something fun, something energetic, just the two of you.

 

  • Boundaries with the Children and Careers. Though the economy is not looking great, don’t go into panic mode chasing the almighty dollar. Your spouse needs your time and attention. Though the children need enriching activities and have important sporting events, they need to see their parents love each other more. Set a limit on how many hours you will work this week. Put the children to bed at an earlier time or enforce quiet time in their rooms after a specific hour. Make sure you have at least 30 minutes of quality time together so you can listen and empathize with your marriage partner’s day. Also, share things with your husband because, he is not a mind reader like the romance novels would lead you to believe. There is a reason why they call those books “Fiction.” Getting to know each other doesn’t stop at “I do”.

 

  • Allow Each Other To Have Some Space. It isn’t a bad thing to have individual interests. If he wants to play golf, she can spend the time catching up on some shopping with the girls. Make sure to practice appropriate boundaries by sharing your individual interests with the same sex (men go out with male friends; women go out with female friends). Don’t be surprised if you both start to appreciate having new things to share with each other. The old cliché “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” may ring true after you have shared a day apart from one another.

 

  • Spice Up the Intimate Moments. Have fun giving each other kisses or long embraces, and listen to your kids say, “Ewww, gross!” Send the children to grandma’s, or allow them to spend the night with a trusted friend, so you can rekindle the romance in your home. Try new positions, take a bath together, get out the soft music and scented candles. Men, if you prepare your wives, I can almost guarantee she’ll return the favor before the night is over.

 

  • Fight fair. This can be much more difficult than it sounds. Expect to have disagreements or to get angry at each other when things donot go as planned. But do NOT call each other hurtful names, do NOT say “I don’t love you or I’m going to leave”, and do NOT fight in front of the children if possible. Before you embrace an argument, think about whether or not it is worth the energy. Does it really matter if it was you or him that forgot to turn out the lights or should you save your energy for discussing something that is important like not forgetting to pick up Jane from school again? Remember to pick your battles. Life will go on if the electric bill goes up a few dollars, but will be detrimental if you neglect your parental responsibilities.

IMG_7478This article on marriage advice was written by Sandi Burchfield, M.S., MFT, IMT-1129

http://www.familylifecounselingcenter.com

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