I know that isn’t a popular thing to say, but it is true.
Many marriages suffer because of children. Likewise, many marriages are deeply blessed because of children.
In our episode on children which will play this Sunday night 7:30pm on BTV, we lay out some practical steps to make sure your children bless you, not bother you. In this episode, someone asked the question, “how do you balance time between your spouse and your children?”
Below is our answer from our book:
It is always important to remember what came first. The two of you are the foundation to this family. As a couple, you decided to start a life together and grow together.
Part of that journey is bringing children into the picture, but they are brought in as a part of YOUR journey. They are not meant to make you leave the main path and join a secondary path. They should complement the original “team”, not divide it.
The home cannot revolve around the children. It is not healthy for the children to think they have that much control, and it isn’t healthy for you to allow them such control. You must protect your marriage because your job is to work together to create INDEPENDENT adults who, if you do your job well, will LEAVE your home and go start their own families. Yet, your spouse should be by your side ‘til death does you part.
Let’s make it practical:
1) Set aside time to talk each day, and try to make sure to include subjects other than the kids. If you are talking and the kids want your attention, make it clear to them that they are not allowed to interrupt you. The message needs to be clear. My spouse is important and you are not allowed to disturb us when we are talking.
2) Go on dates. I hear of people saying “my child just whines and makes me feel guilty if we go out and leave him/her behind, so we just decided to take the kids.” There is nothing wrong with taking the kids out, however if you WANT TO GO FOR A DATE, do not let your child have the power to dictate your social plans. It builds up a spoiled mentality in the child and builds up resentment in you when you lose your freedom in such a way.
3) Exercise together. A great way to keep your body in shape and get some quality conversation in on a regular planned basis is to go for walks, jogs, or hikes.
4) If you have the space in your home, try and get the child out of the bedroom as early as possible. This is a matter of preference so we don’t want to spend too much time on this one, but we have counselled couples who have ended in divorce because of lack of intimacy caused by the fact the child still slept with them, and they claim they just couldn’t ask him/her to leave because of the tears that ensued.
Let me give you an example of this in practice. When Caleb, our son, was around four, he went on this spree where he would hit me when he didn’t get his way in a little temper tantrum. I would faithfully discipline, but it was a slow habit to break. At four, he wasn’t really hurting me, but I knew I needed to break the habit before he got older and stronger.
My husband was usually at work when this would occur, but one day he observed it. He quickly grabbed our son, looked him in the eye and firmly said, “You will NOT hit my wife!”
He gave him two spankings to associate a negative consequence then sat him down on his lap and explained that “mommy is very special to me. You cannot hit her. I will always protect her, and I need your help to treat mommy like a queen in our home.”
That habit quickly stopped once my husband got on board and “defended” me. There is nothing worse than the kids and one spouse ganging up on the other. You don’t feel loved and valued in your own home, which should be your comfortable refuge and safe haven from the world. Stick together and defend each other.
6) Intentionally plan family activities that everyone enjoys doing together to spend quality time with your spouse and your children at the same time. For us, that means we eat dinner as a family. We do family devotionals together. We have family dance parties, watch movies together, and do family game nights frequently. These activities strengthen our bond with our kids and with each other simultaneously.
For more practical tips which are guaranteed to enhance your relationship with your partner, our marriage book is available in electronic copy on our website, www.ashleythaba.com . We have written it because we believe strong relationships make for strong people. When you are in love and feel secure and happy in your relationship, we believe you will be a happier more productive member of society in general. We hope you can download the book and begin to grow today.
*Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker, team building facilitator, author and the Producer of a hit TV show offering practical advice to strengthen families and improve marriages! Episodes of her show can be downloaded from her website – www.ashleythaba.com.You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba. You can buy three of her books, Dive In, Making Marriages Fun, and Conquering the Giants, on her website. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook at: Talking with the Thabas