When we found out we were expecting our first baby we had been married 3 weeks. Yes, just 3 weeks! But, we had dated and gotten to know each other well over the course of 4 years before getting married.
Once we had him, and then over the course of the next 12 years as we added more children it became increasingly important for us to find ways to nurture our marriage, and we continue to work on it every single day.
Marriage takes work. A lot. And I’ve seen a trend lately that is depressing. Couples get married, it’s bliss (or appears blissful) and everyone is happy. Kids come along, couples are wrapped up in raising kids and their marriage takes a back seat. Some couples don’t even notice it happening until one day they wake up and realize they don’t know who they are married to. They have spent so much time putting effort into raising their kids that they forgot to put equal effort into their marriage as well.
It has been proven time and again that nurturing a relationship with a spouse has immense positive effects on the couple AND the children.
Here are 7 things you can do to NURTURE your marriage WHILE raising kids.
Talk about things OTHER than the kids. At least weekly, check-in with each other, find out how the week has been, what can be improved, what needs to take priority.
You know, a real date, where the kids are not around, you can relax, talk about whatever you want, see a movie, go mini-golfing, ride bikes, go skydiving! Anything! Do things you enjoy doing, with your spouse!
3.If you can’t afford to go OUT on dates, find ways to have “dates” at home.
When we were first married money was tight. So, we’d put kids to bed, and we’d play board games. We love games, and it was and still is a great way for us to have fun, de-stress, not discuss the kids for a bit and just enjoy each other’s company.
4. Build your spouse up!
If you are constantly thinking about what you can do for your spouse, or how you can let your spouse know you love them, and how you can show you care about them, and then your spouse does the same for you, it will strengthen your marriage beyond anything you can imagine.
5. Gross your kids out!
Kiss, and hug. Frequently! Let your kids see how important your relationship is. Kids are smart. If they see that you love your spouse, and show affection toward your spouse, they will in turn, learn to show love and affection to each other and in relationships they build with others as well.
6. It is OK to go to bed frustrated sometimes, but don’t let it ruin your entire next day.
Discuss things that need to be discussed. There have been nights when one of us will get frustrated with the other. I need time to process before discussing, because I don’t want to say anything hurtful. So we’ll sleep on it, and discuss it the next day. It is so important to give your spouse the space they need. If they aren’t ready to discuss something right away, don’t push it. That will likely make them more upset. Give them space and when ready they will talk to you, if you are open and receptive to discussing things rather than accusing and defensive towards them.
7. Say “I love you” a lot.
More than you think is normal. My husband and I say it ALL the time. Many times a day. I let him know anytime we end a phone conversation, and he does the same. Anytime we walk out the door to go somewhere, we say “I love you.” It’s second nature now, but we know we mean it. Even when getting frustrated with my husband on the phone he will ALWAYS say “I love you” before hanging up. And I know he really means it. Because I know I can be a pain sometimes! ha! But really, saying “I love you” is important! And if your kids see it, they will notice, and start to show and say how much they love you as well. My kids constantly say “I love you”. Sometimes I feel like it’s an excuse for them to get out of bed! But, it means the world to hear them tell me they love me, and I get to do the same for them. Every. Single. Day.