Having kids, especially young kids, takes up a lot of time. Kids have a lot of needs, both physical (my two year old duckling can't change her own diaper and my five year old isn't really able to make her own lunch) and emotional (they've never met a cuddle and a story they didn't like). And sometimes in the divide-and-conquer world of team parenting, parents can start to feel less connected. It happens. We get pulled in a lot of different directions and often, it's time spent on our marriage that tends to get dropped.
So is this about to turn into a blog on the importance of date night? Not really. Date night is great but it's not the "getting out" part that's important. What matters is the effort we make in intentionally connecting as spouses. My wife and I are homebodies, so the idea of "out" is much less appealing than sharing some ice cream and watching an old episode of The Office. It's not the activity that matters but the time to connect. Even if it's only in 15 minute chunks.
Why am I talking about marriage on a website about parenting? Because whether we realize it or not, we can't be good parents without first being good husbands and wives. If I were to say that I was disrespectful and rude to my wife but was really a great dad, people would find that hard to believe.
Marriage affects our kids in two ways. First, if the spouses are getting along well, the home is calmer and more peaceful. This is a better environment for kids to grow up in than one with a lot of yelling, screaming or violence. Second, our kids base their model and expectations of marriage on how they see their parents interacting. Sadly, I’ve seen situations where clients will talk about why they tolerated domestic violence in their marriage for years was because they saw their dad abusing their mother and just assumed that was a normal, albeit upsetting, part of marriage. Because they grew up in a home where spousal abuse was common, they didn’t realize that domestic violence is never an acceptable part of a healthy relationship.
When we model warm, loving, respectful and affectionate relationships with our spouse, we teach our kids about the healthy and appropriate relationships that husbands and wives should strive for.
Today, think about the sort of marriage you hope your child will have one day, and what positive examples can we give him or her now?