Having children is truly a gift and blessing. But why does it seem to also be one of the biggest stressors to a marriage? If you and your spouse have kids, you know firsthand why having kids is both amazing and challenging. Couples start to live their own personal juggling act as they try to tend to their marriage while taking care of the kiddos needing their constant attention. Raising a child takes so much energy, time, and leaves little left for a husband and wife to give to each other. The good news is… this is all really normal and if you are experiencing the marital strain experienced by having children, you are in good company. This does not mean you should jump ship and get out of your marriage while you still can.
There is this silly little question out there that asks which should we put first: marriage or kids? If you are not taking care of your marriage, you are not going to have much of a family left. If your marriage is feeling drained, FILL IT UP. That is the answer. Here are some ways that you and your spouse can begin putting your marriage first.
Regular date nights – I know money can be tight, but after you pay the babysitter (or find a kind family member or friend to look after your littles), find something cheap or free to do. Date your spouse forever. Put a date night on the calendar weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Make it a top priority.
Do something thoughtful and kind for your spouse – They won’t be expecting it, so do something different. Make them coffee in the morning, fill up their water bottle, make dinner, buy them something that you know they would like. There are plenty of ways to make your partner feel loved, so think of things you can do that will let them know you are there for them and thinking of them.
Practice your faith – If you aren’t attending church, I’d recommend finding one as a family. Husband and wife should also begin building a strong faith life together. Pray together. Read God’s word together. Get a “minute a day” devotional to read over dinner with each other. Even if it feels silly or foreign at first, practicing faith together is vital and will bring unmatched peace and strength to your marriage.
Build affection – Being affectionate and romantic are actually significant. Kiss, hug, cuddle, and more! Light some candles at dinner, massage his back, make a bubble bath for her, snuggle on the couch together, hold hands when you’re out to dinner or sitting next to each other in the car. Touch is important, as are affectionate words. Speak loving thoughts and words to your spouse, as well. These things never go out of style or get old.
Tackle your issues – If you’ve got problem areas, don’t sweep them under the rug. They only build up over time under there. Talk about them with each other as issues come up. Agree on a marital goal or vision; write it out and post it somewhere in your home. When you need the extra help, invite a third party (qualified pastor or licensed counselor) to help you sort through the rough times. Issues are not going to just take care of themselves, so be intentional to work through them together, so you can get past them and onto much sweeter days in your marriage.
Speak truth in love – Right away, stop criticizing each other. Rather focus on complimenting, thanking, and expressing your love and gratitude. Communicate effectively your needs and help fill the other up. Negative words to your spouse are toxic, kind and loving words are like honey. Choose wisely and practice self-discipline so you can treat your spouse with utmost love and respect.
These six “steps” serve as starting points and ideas to help launch you and your spouse into the business of putting your marriage first. Decide together what you want to foster and work on together. May God be with you and bless you in your efforts!
Author: Pamela Palmer