Marriage: Maintenance Required
What do parents need to know to keep their marriage vibrant and healthy? What practical things can they do to maximize their parenting influence? Here are a few life-action principles to consider:
One: Life does not stop when you have children. It may slow down, but it does not stop. When you became a mother, you did not stop being a daughter, a sister, a friend, or a wife. Those relationships were important before the children were born, so be sure to maintain them afterwards.
Two: If you had a date night before the children came along, get back to it as soon as possible. If you did not have one, start now. You do not have to do anything in particular, nor stay out any great length of time; but it will be good to get back into the habit of dating. Children rarely go through separation anxiety when Mom is with Dad.
Three: Couples often did special things for each other before children came into the family. If there was a special meal you enjoyed preparing, plan that into your meal schedule. Men, when you bring home a gift for your children, bring one home to your wife. Continue to do those things that were markers of your special relationship before the children came.
Four: Invite friends over for a meal or an evening of fellowship. Being hospitable requires a focus on your home for the sake of ministering to others. This healthy distraction allows you to plan your day around serving other people and is a good way for the children to participate.
Five: Make “couch time” a habit. When the workday is over, take 10 or 15 minutes to sit on the couch as a couple. Couch time is to take place when the children are awake, not after they go to bed. Couch time provides children with a visual sense of your togetherness. It is a tangible way a child can measure Mom and Dad’s love relationship and have that inner need satisfied. In addition, couch time provides a forum for Mom and Dad’s personal and relational needs to be met.
Here are some suggestions for keeping couch time working for you and your children.
· Schedule a time that you can be consistent with five days a week.
· Treat that time as a non-negotiable appointment.
· Don’t answer the phone.
· If Dad is traveling, have him call home when the children are not yet in bed. Dad should speak to each child on the phone and then ask for Mom, letting the children know this is their long-distance couch time.
· Have a special box of toys set aside for play during couch time only. If you have preschoolers, start with 3-5 minutes. When they are not interrupting you and play nicely during this time, increase it to 10 minutes.
Please remember, “couch time” is the title of a concept. You can have your couch time on chairs, outside on the patio or in the kitchen. The key to success, however, is your children routinely observing the two of you sitting, talking and enjoying each other.
It is our desire that your family life be filled with joy, abounding in sweet memories and untainted by regret. This is not a statement of idealism, but one of direction and encouragement. Priority relationships are not arbitrary; they are not dictated by circumstances or social fads. Relationships within the family function best when they are orchestrated by the common goals of family love
and unity. From the very beginning, children are to be welcome members of your family, but not the center of it.
If you desire to achieve excellence in parenting, you must protect your marriage. A strong marriage acts as the stabilizing factor against the shocks of life for both you and your children.
This post is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of our book The Life Series.