Linda Gellman Levin holds a dual Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and in Special Education. In this new exclusive SmartFem column Linda will address your tough questions on the difficult and important job of raising children. askLinda@SmartFem.com
Keeping Your Marriage Alive After Having Children
As a child development specialist and parenting expert, I have studied and observed the amount of work and compromising it takes to keep a marriage together and still love each other after your children grow up. I have personally found that creating a loving, passionate, communicative, and supportive relationship while having fun are the ingredients to being married 34 years. Let’s begin looking at each area to help you think through what you are doing or not doing to create a better marriage.
Embrace your partner when they walk through the door. By creating a warm welcome through a smile, gentle touch, hug, or a kiss can enhance the evening after work. When we think about how often we hug and kiss our children, or even our animals, such as a dog or cat, do we share that same warmth with our spouse?
Reconnect by having a scheduled time alone or a date night. Take turns asking one another to set up an evening that is conducive to what your partner may want to do versus you. The next time, it is your turn to ask for what you would like to do that would work for both partners. Often times leaving your home and hiring a babysitter is advisable.
Create specific bedtimes for your children so that you have time to connect at the end of the evening even though you may be exhausted. This will give you some special time alone, without your children needing you, even if they are in their bedroom and not asleep yet.
Decide on specific chores together. If you have made the decision who is doing what, such as laundry, bill paying, dishes, household chores, then you eliminate arguing and comparing how much you may do versus your partner. (If you can afford a housekeeper to help you if both people work, that may be the best investment of all to eliminate arguments.)
Teach your children independence such as dressing, making a meal or snack, doing homework, etc. This will teach them to not rely on you all the time and praise them and reward them ongoing.
Create memories today that you once did many years ago. My husband and I relived our first anniversary by recreating the same scenario twenty years later. Go to a concert, or a special place that you once loved together and hire a babysitter to give you a couple days off.
Schedule a time to make love. Children can greatly interfere in this process. They may end up in bed with you! Make sure they are asleep to create romance at home or go to a hotel whenever you can afford to feel relaxed and no longer play the parenting role.
Send an email or letter to your husband or wife’s office. Flowers , chocolates, or even something that they collect or enjoy could be a special treat to receive to feel appreciated. A thank you letter can also be a wonderful gift to receive and to feel validated is important.
Compliment one another whether it’s how they look, are dressed, made an intelligent decision, saved for a college fund, etc is an important form of communication that you take notice on a weekly basis.
Don’t forget to laugh! Laughter is what keeps the hard days to become less stressful and enhances the great days. So have a sense of humor!
Create daily rituals. Maybe after dinner, it is mom and dad’s time to sit outside for 15-20 minutes, and the kids can watch a movie, play games, and they will know not to disturb you after a certain time.
Be supportive of one another. It is so easy to criticize what we have not done versus what we have done for each other or our families. Validation is one of the most important aspects of staying married. Work together as a team and discuss the problems together privately so the children cannot manipulate one parent over the other. Be consistent.
To keep a romance together, you need to create or whisper sweet nothings in the other person’s ear like you did when you were first dating or in your earlier years. This will keep the spark going.
If none of these ideas or tips are working, please consider putting the time and money into seeing a marriage counselor. Often times a third party can help you to be objective and to learn new tools in order to grow and maintain a love you once had.