The notion that you have to prioritize one over the other is a fallacy. Here are five reasons why.
You might also feel some guilt. Children are innocent and they should be the top priority ... right? We're here to take some of the burden off. We don't believe that you have to choose between your kids and your relationship.
To escape this exhausting and heart-wrenching conundrum, shift your thinking. When you move beyond the dichotomy of "my kids or my marriage," there's a lot of room for everyone to feel loved, cared for and attended to ... even you! This Just In: Couples With Kids Are SO Much Happier Than You
Remember these five reasons why you don't have to choose:
1. Your kids are more self-sufficient than you think. This one is not always easy for parents to believe. After all, your children may be very young or they may be shy or accident-prone.
Be aware of the developmental limitations of where your children are right now, but do give them space to learn and grow and to be independent. It's actually very empowering for your child to make age-appropriate decisions and to do some things for him or herself.
You can also give your child the opportunity to develop relationships with other adults you trust such as family members and friends. Guess what you can do during those times when your child is exploring independence ... you can connect with your partner!
Even if it's a 10-minute talk that has nothing to do with kids or work or the house, make the most of that time. Even if it's a hug and kiss without having your kids on your mind or asking for your attention, be present and fully enjoy that. And, you can enjoy the proud smile on your child's face after doing something for him or herself.
2. Your spouse has his or her own life. It's helpful to remember that your partner is a unique individual with unique interests that aren't dependent on or associated with you.
If your children really need your attention, know that your spouse can probably (maybe gladly) find something to do. As you sit and listen to the trials and tribulations of your teenager's day, know that your partner might be enjoying catching up on email or reading the newspaper.
Yes, make sure that you set aside some time to connect with your partner, but do give your children your full attention when you are with them. Don't listen to your teenager distracted by worries that your partner will feel left out or ignored.