If you want to put a strain on your marriage, have children. As most parents know, having kids is hard. It disrupts any flexibility and freedom you once had, and it completely rearranges where most of your energy goes. From the sleepless nights of newborns, to the seemingly endless activities of older children, it’s a wonder how any parent makes time for their spouse.
As impossible as it might seem, it’s crucial for parents to maintain intimacy in their relationship. Not only is it essential for the marriage, it’s also important for the children. Here are a few tips to help parents keep the spark alive in their marriage.
Get your children in bed at a reasonable hour! Not only do children need sleep (and get their best sleep if they are in bed before 7:30pm) but parents need time after the children go to be to reconnect as adults. Putting your child to bed around 7:00-8:00PM will allow you and your partner to have time together without the constant interruption of your children (hopefully), and will help give your children the rest they so desperately need. Although this may sound like an impossible task to some, it is doable.
Check in on each other during the day. Sometimes it’s nice to know that your partner is thinking about you. A quick phone call, text, or an email message can go a long way, especially if your spouse is having a long or bad day. Checking in helps your partner know that you care about them, and that they’re on your mind.
Take a few precious hours and go out and spend some time together. Even if you can only afford it once a month, get a babysitter or ask relatives or friends to babysit. There’s no need to make it an extravagant night. Simply going to a local coffee shop and catching up can make for a meaningful experience. Don’t try to do things that will keep you from talking and being together. For example, don’t go to a movie, instead opt for going for a walk or eating dinner together. If you are only able to get some alone time one a month, I suggest that you not stay at home. Household duties might distract you from real intimacy.
Surprise your partner with a meaningful gift or a night out on the town. Planning something special is an excellent way to infuse romance into your relationship. Sometimes even the smallest surprises can feel like the biggest.
Staying on the same page, and being consistent in your parenting styles, is actually a way to maintain intimacy. Through taking the time to discuss how you want to parent your children, you learn more about each other and often times feel closer. Consistent parenting styles result in less stress and conflict at home, resulting in more quality time for each other and the family as a whole. Also, consistent parenting styles can result in better behavior, which can lead to less stress as a whole.
Write a letter to your partner to let them know how much you appreciate them. Letting them know how much you appreciate all they do for your family can help re-ignite feelings of closeness and self-worth.
In addition to the above suggestions, here are 25 quick and easy ways to help strengthen your relationship and show that you are committed to growing your love.
1. Complain less, compliment more.
2. Be sincere.
3. Wake up every morning fifteen minutes early to cuddle with each other.
4. Always look into his/her eyes when he/she’s talking to you.
5. Remember that your partner has feelings too. Respect them!
6. Sit down and write your goals together.
7. Take a bath together.
8. Create your own homemade card for special occasions. It means so much more.
9. Create a card for no reason other than to express your love.
10. Laugh together and find humor in your relationship – even during the tough times!
11. Ask the question, “What can I do for you today?” Follow through with whatever request is made!
12. Hold his/her hand whenever you walk together.
13. Be supportive of your partner, no matter what!
14. Compliment your partner.
15. Steer clear of “I told you so.”
16. Never undermine your partner in front of your children. Discuss your concerns at a later time.
17. Tell him/her that he/she is the best thing that has ever happened to you in your entire life.
18. Learn to have the last word in arguments, “I’m sorry.”
19. Make a list of 25 reasons why you love your partner.
20. Thank your partner for just being who they are.
21. If you are prone to sporting the casual look, get dressed up for no good reason.
22. If your partner is stressed out, let him/her take a nap and keep all distractions and emergencies away during that time.
23. Say, “You mean the world to me.”
24. Write a personalized love story and have it bound.
25. Say, “I Love you” three times a day for the rest of your life.
Were those suggestions too serious for you? Well, here are 10 cheesy ways to express love to your spouse/partner. Yes, some of these are totally ridiculous but guaranteed to be memorable!
1. Leave a love note under his/her windshield wiper.
2. Give him/her a key with a note that says, “You have the key to my heart” or, “You’re the key to my happiness.”
3. Pack “I love you” notes in his/her briefcase, backpack, suitcase, lunchbox, etc…
4. Give a map and write something on it like, “I can never be lost with you around.”
5. Turn the A/C on and enjoy a fire – in the summer.
6. Give a fish & fish bowl with a note attached that reads, “Out of all the fish in the sea I picked you!”
7. Create a jar filled with “Love Coupons.” Make the coupons redeemable for hugs, kisses, back rubs or any number of special favors. Give the jar to your lover and let him/her redeem the coupons over time.
8. Place a card on his/her steering wheel that says “You drive me crazy!”
9. Unplug the TV and leave a card on top that says “Turn me on instead.”
10. Put an “I love you ad” in the classified section of your paper.
Remember, your children are observing and evaluating your every move in your relationship with your partner. Your children’s future relationships hinge on the model that they were provided with. So do take the time to make your marriage strong and healthy. I hope that some of these suggestions help!
Jennifer, author of Hybrid Rasta Mama, lives in the Sacramento, CA area with her husband and can be found blogging about breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed-sharing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, a Waldorf approach to education and parenting, playful parenting, getting children outside, as well as cooking and eating Real/Traditional Foods. A life-long lover of reggae music, Jennifer takes a little of this and a little of that and blends it all together into something that works for her family.