We Have Kids! – Now What About the Marriage?
How to avoid the drained and strained
By Klaus Klein MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor
While working with a couple in my office, something became very clear about their relationship.
This couple had the idea that the marriage would just naturally continue be fine in the middle of all their daily busyness.
The expectation was that since they were working together to take care of their home, finances, and child raising — meant that the marriage should be working just fine.
However, they felt very much apart, isolated and losing the relationship.
Ever since they had their first born child, life became hectic (most of us can relate to this), and they found themselves dis-connected.
In my office without the distraction of parenting, paying bills, going to work, preparing dinner, cleaning chores, etc., they were able to connect in a meaningful way quite well.
What struck me was they didn’t know what ‘nurturing the relationship' really meant. Especially back at home in the ‘real world’.
I saw several key elements that this couple needed to consciously and intentionally practice at home.
This would also be for the sake of their children as well.
Otherwise in a few years time there may not be much of a relationship left to even build back up to save the marriage.
Dealing with household chores separately or together, paying bills, and handling the challenges of parenting is NOT the same as 'nurturing the relationship'.
4 Elements Parents Need to Consider:
- Practice creating a time and space to 'de-role' yourself from the business side of living together and from being a mom and dad.
- Practice being with each other as adults is vital to nurturing the relationship.
- Actually talking about something interesting, exciting, like how you did when you first met — not finances or children.
- Laughing together (kids love to see parents laughing together — it makes them feel secure).
With all that needs to be done in busy lives — couples often sacrifice or forget the nurturing aspects of a relationship for the sake of 'just getting things done'. — Very common in modern times.
This kind of 'habit' over time can lead couples to totally dis-connecting from each other. This can ultimately lose the original meaning, purpose, and love that brought them together in the first place.
Having to work together with the finances, parenting, and household responsibilities is like a business like relationship.
The business side of living together and raising kids DOES need to be done. BUT this is NOT the same as 'nurturing the marriage relationship'.
Nurturing your relationship is not only going out for a few hours once a week, once a month, or once a year.
It is also the simple little actions, such as kind/ validating/ acknowledging words on a daily basis.
A hug, a few INTENTIONAL minutes to really say 'hello' and being present (mindfulness) with each other etc., can make a difference.
Over time even simple actions can really add life, meaning, and energy to the marriage relationship. This is vital to a core parenting foundation.
If parents don't do this — then over time the life, meaning, and energy of the marriage relationship gets drained, and the parenting core gets strained.
By Nurturing the ‘marriage relationship’ the parenting core remains solid which provides kids with the kind of security and atmosphere they need to grow and thrive.
One resource I recommend is:
5 Love Languages - Updated: The Secret To Love That Lasts
by Gary Chapman
Chapters Books Online Page
Klaus Klein, MA, RCC
KDK Counselling services
for Vancouver and the Burnaby area.