Becoming parents can be one of the toughest challenges a couple can face. Discover the recipe for a happy marriage even when you have kids.
Marital satisfaction can take a dip once that first baby comes home from the hospital. Let’s face it—kids, particularly newborns, are difficult.
The recipe for a happy marriage
But you can maintain a happy marriage despite the strains and difficulties on your new life. Here is a recipe for a happy marriage — even with children.
Love is a decision, not a feeling
You can’t keep warm fuzzy feelings for your spouse when children take up your time and energy.
Still, your relationship with your spouse comes first. Dozen studies say the same things about the negative effects of a broken marriage on children.
If you want your kids to be happy, keep your spouse happy.
Parent on the same page
If your children walk all over you, your home is bound to have tension. It might be with a spouse who disagrees with your discipline methods. Or within yourself because you’re whipped by your own two-year-old.
With discipline, it’s important both parents are on the same page. With cracks in the foundation, your kids will find them and take full advantage.
Be open with communication
Whether it’s discussing parenting styles or intimate moment alone together, be open and honest. “Communication is key” is a cliché, but they’re also words to live by. If you have something to say to your spouse, out with it. Don’t keep anything bottled up where it will only fester and explode.
Speak your mind in a gentle way
Don’t keep a laundry list and dump all your grievances at once. No one likes feeling attacked. This is all the more reason to speak up when something is getting you down. And whenever possible, do so in a self-effacing way.
“We should both work on keeping the kitchen tidier,” even if it’s the other person who’s a mess in the kitchen. That comes off much nicer than, “Clean up your mess! I’m tired of picking up after you!” Riiiiiiiiiight. That’s not going to end well.
Make your spouse happy
Even though we learned to share in kindergarten, we’re still selfish beings. Ask yourself, what would your spouse like?
Maybe it’s what to eat for dinner, what movie to watch, or what dessert you share at a restaurant. Let your spouse choose. Having a happy spouse makes you a happy spouse. Let his happiness bring you happiness.
Keep dating each other
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Just because you’re married and have kids doesn’t mean your social life is over. You still need to spend quality time alone together (or even out with friends).
Getting out of the house for a date isn’t always possible with sitters or finances, but you can have dates in, too.
Don’t spend your evenings in separate rooms, computers, or phones. Instead, unplug everything—except your television. Snuggle on the couch with popcorn, a glass of wine, and a good movie.
Or, pull out a deck of cards or board game. Every couple should have one indoor and one outdoor game that they enjoy doing together. Make a point of doing that game or activity. Schedule it on the calendar if necessary (I use an Erin Condren Life Planner).
Have couch time
If it’s difficult to talk about your day because you’re busy haranguing Penelope to eat her peas. Or keeping Bobby from dunking his face in his soup. So get your quality time on the couch when the children aren’t around. Have at least some part of you touching—physical touch soothes you.
Touch each other even in a small way when you’re upset. The physical contact will ease tension and help you work out your troubles in a calmer manner. Try it.
Go to sleep at the same time
This provides you with another opportunity for communication: verbal or physical. You decide. Be open. Enjoy one another’s company. If you’re too tired to do more than collapse into bed and fall right to sleep, get yourselves in bed sooner. This is more needed couple time.
Maintain an attitude of gratitude
You cannot do it all on your own. Sometimes you’ll need help from your spouse—allow your spouse to help you. Ask for help, but don’t demand it. Ask kindly without whining or complaining, and accept graciously.
When help comes unsolicited, be grateful and don’t shy away from showing your gratitude. The words “thank you” and “I love you” go a long way. Kisses can go even longer.
Focus on the positive things in your life
Sure, you may be behind on laundry and the dishes, but how adorable was it when the baby blew raspberries at you? You may have been in your pajamas all day, but she rolled over for the first time! Can’t remember the last time you showered? But you can remember that first word or step.
Don’t get down on the negative. Nobody ever promised that life was easy. You do the best you can. If you’re Debbie Downer, you won’t be fun for your spouse to be around. Everything else will get taken care of in due time. And remember, it won’t always be this way.
No doubt every gray haired person you’ve encountered has reminded you that “they grow up so fast.” Take that to heart by enjoying all the good and filter out the bad.
“When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.” -Joyce Brothers, psychologist, television personality and columnist
Get more tips:
- Do You and Your Partner Share Parenting Duties?
- The Biggest Reason Parents Should Have a Life Besides Kids
- Motherhood Is Hard and the REAL Reasons Why
- When Did You Know You Were Done Having Kids?
- How to Have a Social Life (Even If You Have Kids)
Betsy Kerekes is the author of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage (affiliate link) where you can read more marriage saving tips. You can also fill up on the humorous side of parenting at Betsy’s blog, Parenting Is Funny.
Your turn: What is your recipe for a happy marriage? Have you struggled with having a happy marriage with kids? Let us know in the comments!
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