“Are you kidding? You are asking me to be romantic with my husband and to flirt with him? I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom sometimes with my 3 kids running around during the summer. Two are in camps, one has to go to junior lifeguards and my husband is at work all day. By the time I am done with my to-do list, I am beat and have no time for romance and sex.”
“It’s just challenging now. There are layoffs coming and I need to work extra hard and basically be more impressive to my superiors than my coworkers. And then when I get home, my wife needs me to go pick up my daughter at dance and my son at soccer. Then I get home and eat a real late dinner and I am exhausted. And then I am supposed to take some time to be with my wife? I need to decompress, maybe watch one TV show and then go to bed.”
I hear variations of those themes almost every day I am working with couples. In the above examples, the kids are getting in their soccer, their dance, their camps and their junior lifeguards. But what they are not getting are parents who show joy to be around each other. If you were to take those children 20 years from now and ask them- If you had one less activity back then but it allowed your parents to have some time together and you got to see them smiling at each other more – would you choose that? I am telling you the answer would be yes. I am not saying that children shouldn’t have activities; as a matter of fact I am fine with them having all the activities and more that I listed above. As long as the couple has some quality time together on a consistent basis.
Maybe it is not a child’s activity that has to go; maybe it is talking less on the phone with your dependent sister. Or maybe you need to be more assertive with your boss and do your best to get home earlier. Or maybe you make just a little less money as an entrepreneur. (I know many people who refused to make a little less money, their lives got out of balance and then they ended up in a very expensive divorce and were financially far worse off than if they balanced their lives out more when married.)
Or maybe you do not have to give ANYTHING up. Being a healthy couple may take no more than a decision to prioritize attending to each other. I recently had one of those overwhelmed moms in my office who had no time for her husband. I asked her to turn towards her husband and make him feel like a million bucks. She looked at him, smiled and gently touched her husband’s face. His face lit up and he smiled back. I asked what was going on with him. He said- I liked what she did a lot! I asked her how long that took and she answered- about 8 seconds. Yup, 8 seconds to a better marriage- sounds like my next book title!
The important point here is that your children will benefit tremendously when you make being a healthy couple a priority. They will be more relaxed and having parents who outwardly show affection and fondness for each other helps children in ways that we may take for granted. I am not citing research in this blog but you can, I am sure, imagine that as children feel more secure because their parents are happy together, they could do better socially, academically and health-wise as well. And here is another benefit- you both become great role models for their future intimate relationships!
So, in a nutshell, take your kids to dance and soccer and also make sure that they see some outward signs that you both like each other and enjoy each other’s company. It all makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it?