I practically beg the married couples I work with to date. I share with them divorce's dirty secret: that divorcees frequently realize they are more engaged parents because they have built in down time, and wish they had prioritized dating during their marriages. But I hear the same two excuses, time and money. Consider all of the time you make for your children and your careers. Isn't your spouse worth at least two nights a month of your undivided attention?
As for money, consider reaching out to a trusted relative or friend for child care, or form a small baby-sitting cooperative. Remember: a home where children see two loving parents — not just two distinct operating entities — makes for a happy childhood! I encourage couples ending therapy to direct the money they have budgeted for counseling toward a baby-sitting fund. After all, baby-sitting is cheaper than therapy and astronomically cheaper than divorce! Love Bytes: The One Thing You Should Know About Marriage
More from YourTango: 20 Things Parents Need to Teach Kids About Emotions
If you are not significantly more engaged and connected in your marriage after taking the above four steps, consider seeking therapy to assess whether other underlying issues should be addressed.
From Ilene Dillon:
Teach Your Children By Example
More from YourTango: 10 Ways To Help Your Kids Cope With Your Divorce
Children are souls new to the earth, who must learn its ways in order to make their own path through life. Our job, as parents, is to teach them what they need to know for the best possible journey through life. And how is this done? Most powerfully and thoroughly, through modeling. As early as you can in the process of having a family, assess what you want to teach your children and how you can best model it.
Don't we want for our children an enjoyable, balanced, nurturing, loving and kind journey? If so, we need to model it! Now, look at your relationship and ask what you can do to make your own relationship (the model) demonstrate enjoyment, balance, nurturing, love and kindness. Then do it! And do it with a "happy heart," realizing that you get to live in these wonderful ways, rather than have to. "Perfect" Married Couples: As Happy As We Think?
I was taught that a mother put her children before herself. It didn't take me long, in the 20 years I lived as a single parent, to realize that if I did that, the entire family would suffer. I needed to put myself first whenever possible, so I was rested, healthy and positive enough to keep things going! Whether you have one parent in the home, or two, the same is true. When parents nurture themselves, and take the time to love and nurture one another, the family runs more smoothly, the model is clear for the children, and the entire life journey is more satisfying for everyone.
Dr. Seymour Boorstein, half-century partner of Buddhist and author Sylvia Boorstein, taught me something that can help every relationship to be conscious and nurturing. He said: "When you talk to your spouse, say what you have to say in a way that you know they are going to be happy to hear what you’re saying!" Easier said than done, but certainly worth the effort. Imagine this "trickling down" to your children to be experienced in their childhood and used in their adulthood.