Restore Romance After Kids Arrive
- Monday, May 05, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Lorilee Craker's new book, Date Night in a Minivan: Revving Up Your Marriage After Kids Arrive, (Revell, 2008).
After a long day of changing diapers, helping with homework, refereeing sibling squabbles, and the countless other demands of parenting, romance may be the last thing on your mind. But without romance, your marriage will suffer. It is possible to enjoy a hot romantic relationship with your spouse while still fulfilling all your parenting responsibilities. You just have to be proactive about it.
Here’s how you can restore romance to your marriage after kids arrive:
Find common ground among your discipline styles. Clashing ways of disciplining your children will cause lots of tension between you and your spouse. So let down your defenses and seek to understand each other’s approaches. Talk about what each of your parents did well and what mistakes they made. Recognize that you and your spouse each have the same goal: to train your kids to think and behave in healthy ways. Rather than fighting against each other, remember that you’re on the same team and do all you can to support each other to work toward your common goal. Avoid criticism. Instead, ask for your spouse’s suggestions when facing a discipline problem. Try to learn from each other.
Give each other time off. A powerful way to nourish your marriage is to give each other time away from the demands of childcare on a regular basis. Take turns scheduling break times when one of you can take the kids and the other can pursue some personal enjoyment on an evening or weekend day. Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind about this; talk to him or her about what specific ways you want to get out, and when. Then plan for it!
Divide household responsibilities fairly. Figuring out who will do what chores around the house will help you and your spouse avoid power struggles that damage your marriage. Don’t keep score about which one of you is working harder at any given time. Remember that you both work hard to contribute to your family in different ways. Show respect and appreciation to each other for all of your efforts. Think about how you can serve each other rather than worrying about how you’re being served. Take a hard look at your expectations of each other’s household loads to consider whether or not they’re realistic. Sit down together to make a list of all the chores that need to get done. Discuss what’s most important to each of you, what you’re each good at doing, and what you each dislike doing. Then assign each other the chores that best fit. Don’t nag; instead, encourage each other’s efforts.
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