Q&A: Spending too much time as parents

Q: Sometimes I feel that my wife and I spend so much time in our roles as mum and dad that we neglect our own relationship. Do we just need to recognise that our needs as a couple have to be put on hold until our children are older and less demanding?

A: Most couples with children can relate to your dilemma. A household can only be as strong as its component parts — namely, husband, wife, and children. Healthy families are made up of healthy individuals, and happy, successful marriages tend to produce thriving, well-adjusted children.   

Since loving, connected spouses make the most effective mums and dads, the best thing you can do for your children is to concentrate on creating the strongest possible bond with your spouse. There are at least twelve distinctive qualities we’ve identified here at Focus on the Family that are vital for successful marriages. Here’s a brief look at them:

  1. Lifelong Commitment. Marriage is a lifelong adventure, filled with triumphs and defeats. Couples who understand this enter their relationship with the attitude that despite the challenges of life, they are dedicated to one another and won’t throw in the towel when times get tough.
  2. Shared Values. Shared values are a strong predictor of marital success. Thriving couples who share common values have more satisfying relationships and deeper intimacy. For couples who share few common interests, what bind them together are the values they share.
  3. Respect Each Individual’s Uniqueness. Don’t lose sight of what drew you together before the children came along. Parents who know who they are and where they’re going naturally encourage every other member of the family to make the same discoveries. They motivate children to search out and follow their own paths and to develop their special interests and talents. 
  4. Positive Communication. Communication is the heart and soul of any vibrant relationship. It’s important for husbands and wives to spend lots of time talking and trying to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings.
  5. Healthy Conflict Management. The key to marital success lies in the way a couple handles the inevitable conflicts of marriage – i.e., by keeping short accounts and not letting anger fester.    
  6. Spending Enjoyable Time Together. Thriving couples are intentional about spending enjoyable time together.  They schedule regular date nights and develop meaningful family traditions. 
  7. Cherish. Successful marriages are made up of two people who treasure and honour one another. You can do this by writing down a list of the things you value about your spouse, reviewing it often, and sharing it with them. 
  8. Nourish. Nourishing is a matter of discovering your spouse’s “love language” and learning to use it to express affection. 
  9. Shared Responsibility. Couples with vibrant relationships talk openly about their roles in the home. They devise a workable plan that preserves fairness in the way it divides household tasks and responsibilities. 
  10. Mutually Satisfying Physical Intimacy. Thriving couples regularly celebrate their marriage with physical intimacy. They understand that this includes affection, tenderness, warmth, and physical touch. 
  11. Coping with Change, Stress, and Crises. Successful husbands and wives recognise that external trials and pressures will come upon them. They prepare for hard times and make provisions for seeking outside help when needed. 
  12. Community Minded. Healthy marriage partners realise that they need other people and other people need them. They are involved in supportive communities where they have many opportunities to give and receive encouragement. 

If you’d like to know more about how to implement these “Traits of a Thriving Marriage” in your own home, explore our Articles. You’ll be glad you did. So will your children!

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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