When your first child is born, your world is completely turned on its head. Your marriage also undergoes several alterations. A husband-wife relationship also impacts your child’s mindstate. Schedules shift, old habits change completely, sleep becomes a distant memory, and nothing is ever the same.
For all of that, new parents couldn’t be happier. There’s a sense of fulfillment you get from watching this little life that you grew to start to crawl, and then walk, laugh for the first time, and pose in those adorable onesies that you had made just for them, that can’t be matched by anything else on Earth.
And it makes all the crazy worth it!
But one area that changes for most couples, and that many aren’t ready for, is the impact that children can have on a marriage.
With a new baby comes added responsibilities, more commitments on your schedule, new stress, and less time to spend exclusively with each other. It’s not unusual for many couples to fall into a pattern of ‘just getting by’ with their spouse until their children are old enough to leave the house on their own.
While it’s easy to let your marriage play second fiddle to your role as a parent, now, more than, it’s essential that you and your spouse work, and grow closer, together.
With that in mind, let’s talk about three ways that the state of your marriage affects your children, and explore some ideas to improve a husband-wife relationship.
They learn how to show and receive affection:
Though your children will be seeking love and companionship for the rest of their lives, they crave love and attention the most when they are very young, and they need it. And when I say crave and need, I don’t just mean from you to them; I mean between you and your spouse.
In addition to the direct affection that you no doubt give to your child, there needs to be just as much directed between you and your spouse. Children are very sensitive to the emotional environment around them, even more so than adults, and they reflect those feelings back into the world. If they live in a home that feels safe, warm and nurturing, they’ll be happy, develop much more quickly and healthily, and maintain a positive perspective on life.
This extends to the atmosphere you and your spouse create between each other. You can do little things that children will easily recognize as affectionate to demonstrate your love for your spouse, and foster those same habits in your children. Greet each other when you return home from work, share kisses often, and don’t be afraid to cuddle on the couch (include the kids if you want!). The bottom line is: display as much affection as you can to your spouse and let your children see you do it. It will brighten up your marriage and their lives!
They learn how to resolve conflict:
No matter how much love there is, nor how often you snuggle, kiss and try to get along, sooner or later, you and your spouse are going to disagree and get into an argument. That’s perfectly fine; in fact, it’s healthy for couples to discuss their issues, and let the other know their concerns. How frequently you argue doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you argue, especially to your children.
Arguments are often fueled by emotions, there’s no denying that, but as parents, it’s critical to keep your emotions in check when you argue, especially in front of your children. By watching how you argue and solve problems, they’ll begin developing their own approach to overcoming adversity and conflict.
To make sure they learn how to resolve problems in a way that’s healthy and beneficial for both parties, never yell at each other, but keep a level voice. Don’t ever make personal attacks on each other, but keep your comments focused on the issue at hand. Don’t ever storm off, and definitely don’t threaten each other; instead, agree that you can’t resolve this problem right now and that you’ll discuss it later.
If you and your spouse have trouble arguing constructively, this should become an immediate priority for improvement to you both, and you should seek marriage counseling or therapy.
They learn how to prioritize their lives:
We live in a busy world, that’s only getting busier. Work, family, hobbies, commitments; they all pile up until it seems like we need at least another seven days per week to stay on top of it all. Nevertheless, if you want your children to grow up to raise happy families of their own, you have to set your marriage as a high priority, sometimes, even higher than your children.
Children will learn how important you are to each other by watching how you interact with your spouse. If you take time to talk with your spouse about their day, help them with chores, and on occasion, leave the kids at home and go on a date with your spouse, your children will understand that it’s critical to prioritize your partner, even at the expense of time with your children. It may hurt their feelings somewhat in the beginning, but in the long run, your children will come to appreciate that you are committed to your spouse and love them, and your children will reflect this in their own relationships.
Try to set at least one night a week where you and your spouse do something together, and focus only on each other. You can hire a sitter, get dressed up, and go on a date. If you can’t afford to go out, you can put the kids to bed early and watch a movie together.
A more unorthodox approach could be to start a blog together, discussing your lives, relationship, and your children. This will not only allow you to spend time together and form friendships with other parents but can also give you different perspectives and insights to improve your own marriage. Starting a blog is easy: you just need to pick a focus, register a domain, set up basic website design, and you’re ready to begin.
Whatever your approach, and no matter how busy your lives may be, never forget to show your spouse, and your children, how much your marriage means to you. A smooth husband-wife relationship can only be sustained with constant efforts and nurturing.
Mom and dad, together:
There’s no way around the fact that children coming into the picture will not shake a husband-wife relationship equation, and test a couple’s ability to come together as a team, sharing the burdens that parenting will catapult on you, rather you’re ready or not. By openly showing affection, learning to resolve your conflicts constructively, and always keeping each other as a high priority, you’ll not only ensure that the bonds of marriage remain strong enough to endure the trials of parenthood, you’ll help your children to obtain the same level of happiness for themselves, someday.