Thursday, December 3, 2015

Three ways to help your marriage outlast your kids' childhood. Part 2.

It's no secret that raising kids is tough on a marriage. The sleep deprivation alone is enough to make your normally happy relationship fraught with tension and resentment. Romance, date nights, lazy Sundays together, brunch: all of those are kind of out the window when you have young kids.

BUT,  you don't have to wait til your kids are grown up to enjoy a happy marriage. In fact, you really shouldn't! It's not like your relationship has a "pause" button. (Well, maybe it does, but not a 18 year pause.)

There are three things we do to keep our marriage from falling apart under the pressure of raising children.

1. We invest time and money in our relationship. Time and money are in short supply all the time, especially when you have little kids (daycare, ballet lessons, co-pays, new shoes, school supplies... Kids are expensive!) This year Andrew and I very intentionally set aside a bit of our budget for a monthly date. We try to schedule the date early, before our calendars are filled up with family gatherings, sporting events, playdates and school functions. So far we've had 4 dates in 4 months, with only one of those interrupted by a frantic phone call from the babysitter about a sick kid. We try to plan our dates to be a little bit more than just dinner out. We plan a "grown-up" outing that we wouldn't enjoy as much with the kids in tow. We visit a museum, or take a long walk in the park or visit a part of the city we haven't been to in a while, or ever.  This summer we took a river cruise, which was so lovely. We try NOT to run errands during the date. As convenient as it would be to get some shopping done while the babysitter is still on the clock, a trip to Target is not romantic.

A couple of ways to save money on date night is to get friends or relatives to babysit (for free!) Or, exchange babysitting with another parent. Also, dates don't have to be at night. Brunch is lovely, and much less expensive! Plus you don't run the same risk of falling asleep in your dessert.

10th Anniversary of our First Date, last month.

2. We rescue each other. Parenting is hard work, and sometimes you just aren't have a good day. (or week) Even though we have a pretty good routine in place about who does what chore (Andrew does bedtime, I do the morning-get-out-the-door thing) - sometimes we each need a break.  Sometimes you can see that your partner is about to hit his breaking point during dinner, or if you do one more load of laundry you just might burst into tears. Tag team. Take a break. Hide in the bathroom. Put your headphones on and shut your door. It's okay for the other person to pick up the slack, just so long as you take turns helping each other out. 

Daddy is very good at taking the kids to the park when Mommy needs to stay home and clean veg out to Netflix.

3. We express our gratitude to each other. Even about mundane things. As in, "Thanks so much for folding all that laundry." Or, "That was delicious, thanks for making dinner." Of course the laundry is going to get done and dinner made, but it's so much more pleasant and supportive when you acknowledge each other's hard work. It helps remind you that you are in this together, and that even if the laundry is wrinkled or the dinner is instant mac and cheese, you're both trying your best. 
mmmm... oysters on the river cruise. Thank you!

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