Are you secretly breathing a sigh of relief now that your kids are back in school? If you answered yes, you could be part of a larger (and unfortunate) trend. As much as you love your children, the increase in together time over the summer put a strain on your whole family... including your marriage.
In a recent study, around 20% of parents reported more stress and conflict during the summer months when their children are out of school and home more often. The study's findings go on to suggest that some couples decide to divorce, partly because of financial pressures that build over the summer.
There's no doubt that a change in routine can throw everyone off and inflame tension and tempers. Spending more time together can be a wonderful thing or it can create an environment where unique personality traits suddenly clash and become unbearably annoying. Whether you and your family are home during the summer or if you had the chance to take a vacation, you might be now feeling exactly the opposite of rest and relaxation.
And in the aftermath of summer break, your relationship with your spouse can seem to be a casualty. It may appear that the snide comments, criticism, nagging, frequent arguments, cold silence, infrequent lovemaking or whatever is bringing your marriage down is because of the close quarters and extra demands from having your kids home. If you believe that your kids are blame for your marriage troubles, take a step back and think again.
Yes, being a parent does have an effect on your marriage. It can get expensive raising a child and it can also be a challenge to make time for intimacy and connection. But, if you and your spouse are having problems, it's not your kids' fault. Whatever is going on in your relationship is a result of the habits you and your partner have developed.
Dissatisfaction, distance and conflict are present because certain habits, that you and your partner have, don't allow your marriage to thrive. Here are 4 tips to promote a closer and happier marriage:
1. Set aside your "have to's"
You may have started your summer out with a whole lot of expectations and ideas about how things should be. Maybe when you were growing up you spent your summers a certain way with your family or you wish things had been that way. You believe that you, your spouse, and your kids have to spend x amount of time spending x amount of money engaging in enriching activities together.
There's nothing wrong with making plans and having intentions, but make sure you're motivated by what you like and want to do and not what you think you have to do. This is where open and honest communication comes in. Have a conversation with your entire family and come up with agreements that not only fit your budget, but also that you all can get excited about.
2. Clear up misunderstandings.
Don't allow resentments and hurt feelings to build up. When it seems like you and your spouse don't understand one another, pause and take the time to clear up confusion and misinterpretation. Be patient and try speaking about what's on your mind in a different way that makes it easier for your partner to grasp and get behind. Remember that you two are on the same team whether you are struggling to make a parenting, financial or any other type of decision.
3. Assess what worked.
Now that the summer is just about over, think back to the experiences you shared with your family. What were the high and low points? What seemed to work and come together easily and pleasantly and what didn't? As you assess the times you had over the summer-- vacationing and at home-- set aside any judgments about who might be to blame. Learn from what happened and use your observations when you start making plans for next summer.
4. Schedule time alone.
If you only make one change, it's this one. Get out a calendar now (you don't have to wait until next summer) and start setting aside some alone time. Give yourself regular time to literally be alone and recharge and refresh. This might be an hour a week where you go to the steam room at your gym or soak in a bubble bath with a good book.
Next, schedule date nights for you and your partner-- alone together. Don't always do the same thing. Mix it up and get creative. You don't have to spend much (or any) money to have passionate fun together. You might also choose to have regular alone time with just you and each of your children. Again, the one-on-one time can involve a very simple and inexpensive activity.
The secret here is to re-connect with yourself first so that you're more available and ready to re-connect with the ones you love.
NEWS FLASH for married parents.... Passion NEVER has to fade and die! Relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto Collins share their secrets for Passionate Spark~Lasting Love with you in their free ebook you can get at www.relationshipgold.com
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