Keeping Your Marriage Happy After Parenthood

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Forgot that you had another title besides parent? Take a moment to remember what it feels like to be a spouse. 

Is your marriage everything you ever hoped it could be? Or has it been pushed down your list of priorities since having children? Let’s face it, parenthood is a full-time job and it dramatically changes your marriage relationship. But marriage is the foundation upon which your entire family is structured. If your marriage is strong, your whole family will be strong; your life will be more peaceful, you’ll be a better parent, and you’ll, quite simply, have more fun in your life.

Make a Commitment

To create or maintain a strong marriage you need to take the first critical step: You must be willing to put time, effort and thought into your marriage. When I made this statement during a lecture, one woman spoke up. She had a quiet voice, but she spoke with determination, “Elizabeth, I hear you, and I know what you say is right. But I have three preschoolers! I work part time, do all my own housework, cooking, and laundry. I just don’t have any more energy at the end of the day to ‘work’ on my marriage.”

I noticed that several other women in the room were nodding their heads in agreement as she spoke, and they waited for my response. “I certainly understand! I have four children and my own business; I know how busy life can be. But let me ask you one vital question: how would you like to have three preschoolers, work part time, do your own housework, cooking, and laundry, anddo it all as a single mother? Because if you take care of everything else but neglect your marriage, that’s what could happen.”

Suddenly every mother who nodded a minute ago was looking at me with wide eyes. The thought that their marriage, which was at the very bottom of their priority list, could be in jeopardy, hit them very hard. I noticed that I now had the complete attention of several of the fathers who earlier had been seemed lost in their own thoughts.

Let’s take another look at the commitment statement mentioned earlier. You must be willing to put time, effort and thought into your marriage. The ideas that follow will help you follow through on this commitment and will put new life and meaning into your marriage. A wonderful thing may happen. You may fall in love with your spouse all over again! In addition, your children will greatly benefit from your stronger relationship. Children feel secure when they know that Mom and Dad love each other—particularly in today’s world, where 50 percent of marriages end in divorce; half of your children’s friends have gone, or are going through a divorce; or maybe it’s your kids who have survived a divorce and are now living in a new family arrangement. Your children need daily proof that their family life is stable and predictable. When you make a commitment to your marriage, your children will feel the difference. No, they won’t suffer from neglect! They’ll blossom when your marriage—and their homelife—is thriving.

So here’s my challenge to you. Read the following suggestions and apply them in your marriage for the next 30 days. Then evaluate your marriage; I guarantee you and your spouse will both be happier.

Look for the Good, Overlook the Bad

You married your spouse for many good reasons. Your partner has many wonderful qualities. Your first step in adding sizzle to your marriage is to look for the good and overlook the bad.

Make it a habit to ignore the little annoying things—dirty socks on the floor, a day-old coffee cup on the counter, worn out flannel pajamas, an inelegant burp at the dinner table—and choose instead to search for those things that make you smile: the way he rolls on the floor with the baby, the fact that she made your favorite cookies, the peace in knowing someone so well that you can wear your worn out flannels or burp at the table.

Give Two Compliments Every Day

Now that you’ve committed to seeing the good in your partner, it’s time to say it! This is a golden key to your mate’s heart. Our world is so full of negative input, and we so rarely get compliments from other people. When we do get a compliment, it not only makes us feel great about ourselves, it actually makes us feel great about the person giving the compliment! Think about it! When your honey says, “You’re the best. I’m so glad I married you.” It not only makes you feel loved, it makes you feel more loving.

Compliments are easy to give and they’re free. Compliments are powerful; you just have to make the effort to say them. Anything works: “Dinner was great, you make my favorite sauce.” “Thanks for picking up the dry cleaning. It was very thoughtful, you saved me a trip.” “That sweater looks great on you.”

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