Keep the spark alive — even when you're covered in peanut butter and apple juice.
Today's young families have pressures that families of long ago may not have had. Parents both work with the pressure of taking kids to school, lack of sleep, alternating who takes off sick time when their child gets sick and trying to excel in their own careers. Stress over time begins deteriorating marriage happiness, which is a leading cause of divorce in young families. Although divorce may look easier when you feel disconnected with your spouse, it is not easier in the long term. Research from sociologists at the University of Chicago suggests that working it out and staying in your marriage has a better chance of ending happily than leaving your marriage does. According to the study, two-thirds of those who stay in an unhappy marriage reported being happy in their marriage five years later, and numerous studies have shown that as children become more independent, marital satisfaction increases. Having small children does not have to signify the end of intimacy in marriage. It can, however, present a challenge to sharing intimacy the way you used to, and therefore making your partner and your marriage a priority can help you survive the stressful challenges small children present.
Below are 6 suggestions that can help both husbands and wives feel connected and loved:
- Create Alone Time: Valuing your marriage means taking breaks as a couple from the kids. Date nights, staying in to sleep, or a late dinner when the kids are in bed are wonderful options.
- Keep Talking: No matter how tired you are, communication is one of the most important parts of a healthy marriage. Conflicts intensify when new parents are feeling like they don't talk anymore.
- As Much As Possible, Share Intimacy: It's good for kids to see their parents hug, and it is important to not ever let go of your intimate connection. Sex is good for your marriage and important for your health.
- Start Traditions: Develop new family rituals that are yours and yours alone.
- Split The Work: Share chores as much as possible, and show appreciation for your partner during challenging times when they take on more.
- Keep Expectations Reasonable: You don't need the best of everything — you need what is good enough for you and your partner. Marital unhappiness comes from expecting to have what others have instead of being grateful for what you have.
Having small children is a temporary condition. My best advice is to keep your marriage flexible, help out when you see a need no matter whose job it is, and embrace the chaos and wonder small children bring to your life. As with all things, this too shall pass.
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