Janelle is thrilled to be pregnant. She and her husband, Rick can't wait to welcome a new member to their family. They've been taking childbirth classes, shopping for cribs and bibs and talking about possible names for their baby.
But something has been keeping Janelle up at night and it's not pregnancy-related heartburn or even worries about becoming a first-time mom. Janelle is seriously worried about the changes a baby will bring to her marriage. She has no doubt that she wants to be the best mother she can be and she is sure that Rick will be a fabulous father, but she's concerned about what the negative side effects and strain it could be on her relationship with Rick.
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She's noticed that her friends who have children never seem to have time to spend with their spouses. As her older sister goes through a divorce, Janelle has also been witnessing the destruction of what seemed like a happy marriage—until the hectic pace of juggling kids, house, pets and careers divided her sister and brother-in-law. The last thing that Janelle wants is a future like that.
If you already have children, you are well aware that things do change. Life becomes more complicated and, often, more stressful. Kids bring all kinds of joy to your life, but there are challenges too.
If you don't yet have children, but you're considering it, you may be watching your friends and extended family with a wary eye. Like, Janelle, you can see how difficult it is to keep passion alive when there are so many other responsibilities. There's no denying that kids alter your life and that when you have children, the dynamics in your relationship shift. That doesn't mean it's all bad, however!
There are many benefits to expanding your family and several of these benefits can enhance your relationship with your spouse or partner and bring you two closer together. It's all in how you meet the opportunities that having kids present.
As with anything in life, you can choose to let being a parent interfere with your happiness and connection with your partner, or you can allow it to support growth and a deepen love (and passion too) in your marriage.
Your kids can help you to be more....
In the chaos that ensues in any home with children (of any age), there is an invitation to become more focused. It might not be easy, but it's a skill that busy family life offers. A mom or dad will quickly find out that multi-tasking only goes so far. At a certain point, you realize that to really meet the needs of those you care about, you've got to really tune in and listen. This is an essential part of creating a close relationship with few misunderstandings with not just your kids, but your partner too.
- Clear about your priorities
When you have children, suddenly your priorities shift. You're responsible for the well-being and needs of these precious people, which puts many of your previous concerns into perspective. The petty dramas at work or among your friends are far less important now. You can apply this clarity to your marriage as well. What really matters to you and what will it take to nurture the relationship you want with not just your children, but your spouse as well?
The new priorities you choose relative to your children may include: setting aside money for college, having a will drawn up or teaching them values that you hope will carry them successfully through life. This long-range focus can spill over into your relationship. How do you envision your relationship evolving as you and your partner mature? What dreams do you two have for the far-off future and what steps can you take now to eventually get there?
- Silly and spontaneous
Kids do a wonderful job of reminding us to lighten up! When you play Legos or have a tea party with your children, you tap back into your imaginative and creative side and that's all kinds of fun. Take the creativity your children are giving you and let loose with your partner. Schedule regular date nights and be adventurous and even silly.
- Aware of the example you're setting
Whether we like it or not, as parents our habits and personality quirks teach our children, such as the swear words your toddler mimics or the self-critical comments your teenager makes about her body. Notice the behaviors you're modeling for your children and, if they are unhealthy or make you cringe, take this as an invitation to make some lasting changes. The spillover effect can be great for your relationship too.
Use the mirror your children show you, to improve the way you communicate, pay attention, treat yourself and others and more. Don't let your marriage get “dusty” and “stale” just because your children need so much of your time, attention and energy! No matter how young (or active) your kids are, you can enjoy passion and connection with your spouse.
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