When we first meet our spouse it is almost impossible to be apart. We want to spend every free time together and every decision is about making them happy as they make us happy. Fast-forward a few years into married life. Then, add 3 kids, 2 dogs and a mortgage to the mix and what you come up with is a busy life where your spouse is not much of a priority anymore. We get so comfortable with each other’s presence we forget that a relationship needs to be “watered like a flower” or it will die.
Life gets hard for everyone. Happy couples will tell you that keeping the romance and investment on each other is the key for longevity and satisfaction. You don’t have to go at great length to show appreciation, everyday gestures count more than big demonstrations. It is in the attitude, the effort and the intention that we profess our love for each other. Here is
7 simple ways to put your spouse back in your priority list:
1. Take a break and sit close together: Kids need stimulation but they also need to learn the ability of entertaining themselves. Even babies can be supervised from a distance while playing (close distance for babies). Seize the opportunity to leave the dishes for later and just sit close together watching the kids play while you talk and snuggle. Any 20 minutes that you can have physical contact enhances the bond between you two.
2. Be supportive: Back up your spouse’s decisions with the kids…even if you don’t agree with it. Kids are master manipulators. It’s in their nature to push boundaries. Best case scenario you will discuss important decisions with your spouse ahead of time. If your children catch you by surprise try to put it off until you can talk to your spouse. That shows the children that your spouse opinion matters more than fulfilling their immediate wish. If one of you makes a decision that other doesn’t like don’t correct your partner in front of the children. Supporting your spouse’s parenting enhances self-esteem and creates a sense of teamwork.
3. Show PDA: Make a point to go hug and kiss your spouse when you meet at home. Kids will usually run to hug you first – at least the little ones will do. Give them a quick hug and kiss then let them know you need to get to mom or dad to give them a hug too. Spend a few minutes giving your spouse attention before moving back to the kids.(Check out this article from our clinical director on Huffington Post, on other benefits of PDA).
4. Don’t allow your children to interrupt you all the time. It is hard to ignore a screaming toddler, but make an effort to finish your conversation with your spouse before addressing the kids. By prioritizing your interaction with your spouse you will also be teaching the children to be patient and how to delay gratification. There is nothing worse than feeling like you don’t matter to your partner when every interaction is allowed to be interrupted.
5. Cultivate each others interest: We often focus on our kids’ needs and forget to cultivate our own interests. Talk to your partner often about their interest. Plan time to enjoy those things together. It is not about ditching the kids for “adult time”, but to remember that you and your spouse have other interests besides going to the park or the zoo.
6. Have a date night/day/afternoon/hour: it doesn’t matter when, what or how long…make time for each other! Take advantage of willing friends and relatives if you don’t want to hire a babysitter. Go get lunch together once in a while just to connect over a tasty meal.
7. Keep Your room your Sanctuary. Often our children will end up in bed with us because easier than being up with them. Don’t make it a habit. You and your spouse deserve to have your own space for relaxation and intimacy. Sometimes bedtime is the only alone time parents get. Set the boundaries and dedicate that space to your relationship.
Keeping each other at the top of your priority list will not solve every problem. It will most definitely keep you two connected so you don’t lose sight of the importance of the relationship. Remember, you chose each other to be life partners so ahead and make your life happier!