Some say parenting is a fulfilling job, but it can be time-consuming. Have you ever looked at your spouse and wondered when you last had an adult conversation without the children around or interrupting? Becoming a parent is delightful and scary, all wrapped into one. Unfortunately, it can also be the beginning of the end for some marriages.
Research says that almost two-thirds of couples see a decline in their marriage within three years after a child arrives. Sad as that may be, having a solid union positively impacts your children. According to a Brookings article from 2014, “Children raised by married parents do better at school, develop stronger cognitive and non-cognitive skills, are more likely to go to college, earn more, and are more likely to go on to form stable marriages themselves.”
So you’re doing the right thing by being married. Still, the sad truth is that as soon as some married couples get married, their marriage falls by the wayside, and parenting steps into the forefront. If you’re wondering whether parenthood is consuming your marriage, here are some signs being parents may have become more valuable than being husband and wife and how to change things to center on your union.
Your days are filled with children’s activities.
You shouldn’t take issues with your child playing sports, playing an instrument, or being a part of a Girl/Boy Scout troop. Still, if your family calendar looks like a military operation, you may be overscheduled or focused on your kids for too much of your free time. To combat this, you should think about pulling back on the number of activities each child participates in to make time for family leisure time. You could use this time to reconnect with your husband or wife, adding in some family activities. Unfortunately, your children may complain about this decision, but they may thank you one day.
All conversations are about your children.
Every parent loves talking about their child, especially when they’re young. However, it’s not healthy for them and their parents. Think about this: on date night, do you spend the entire night discussing your son’s soccer game or your daughter’s grades? Do your children dominate the conversation at dinner time? If that’s so, start by having one conversation with your spouse that isn’t about the kids.
You and your spouse could make a pact to go on a walk and talk about anything other than the children. You could also try to talk about things that don’t involve your children right in front of them. Your children should learn that they aren’t the center of the universe, and silence is an excellent place to start while the adults are talking.
You consult your children with every family decision.
Getting your children’s approval on some things can be helpful, but if you’re constantly asking your child’s opinions on where to go on vacation, what’s for dinner, or numerous other decisions can be a bit much. Marriage isn’t a democracy, and children don’t get to vote on decisions affecting the whole family, no matter their ages. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask for their opinion now and then, but in reality, adults should make family decisions, with seldom input from the kids.
As a solution, you should stop asking your children for their opinion and instead let them make decisions for things that only impact them. That way, they can take full responsibility for their choices. For example, instead of asking them where to go on vacation, allow them to figure out which classes they want to take in school. If they’re unhappy with their classes, they have no one to blame but themselves.
You don’t have husband and wife time without the kids.
What happens when a baby comes into the picture? Your sleepless nights turn into tiresome days, and keeping the baby happy and fed add to your exhaustion. Unfortunately, many parents don’t get their adult time when the baby starts sleeping through the night. For parents with more than one child, consistent time together as a couple can be hard to navigate.
Unfortunately, regularly scheduled date nights aren’t feasible for many parents, no matter how refreshing they are. Instead, consider these options: if you have small children, consider taking advantage of their early bedtimes to spend a few minutes alone with your husband or wife. If your children are older, give them 30 minutes before or after dinner for them to play in their rooms or outside. This will provide you and your spouse some time alone while also finishing dinner or enjoying quiet time after dinner. You could also exercise by riding bikes together, going for walks or a run as a couple.
One way to keep the marriage at the center of your family is to consider parenting as having four seasons, a concept first introduced by John Rosemond. The first is the season of service, where the parents, mainly the mother, provide everything for the child. This period is the only time that the child should be the focal point of the family. The second season is the season of discipline. This season is where you teach them your family rules, values, and what makes your family exceptional. During this time, you train your children on how to act and do chores. You also remind them that they aren’t the center of the home. The parents are.
Seasons three and four mainly focus on stepping back from your role as a parent and letting your child leave the nest, making their own decisions. This portion can be difficult for any parent, but you must trust that you’ve raised them well and allow them to flap their wings. Any parent will agree that children are a blessing to a marriage. However, it can be easy to let your children take over. Though your children are essential, you shouldn’t forget to care for your union while raising your children. One day will come when your children are gone, and it’s just the two of you again, so in the meantime, don’t neglect your marriage for parenthood.