Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

One of the most disruptive things to a couples' relationship is having a kid. This is just the way it is, and how could it not be when you suddenly become responsible for a tiny little being so utterly reliant on you for its existence? As wonderful as the experience of having children can be, the parental relationship inherently has to take a back seat for a while.

The problem is, many couples let too much time pass before trying to reconnect and some don't ever rebalance the family dynamic to put more emphasis again on the original love relationship, that of the couple. In my therapy practice, I've seen countless relationships at various ends of the continuum of disconnection as a result of never coming back together sufficiently after having children. Sure, there often are other contributing factors at play to highlight the disconnection but one that repeatedly comes up is the couple not making the choice to prioritize their relationship. Often they are in survival mode, going through the motions of rearing their children and balancing their jobs and life in general. In the flurry of it all, adult time together gets knocked to the bottom of the totem pole. They seek balance but often forget to factor in the very foundation of their family -- them!

Good parenting sometimes means putting your marriage first.

Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D. and author of And Baby Makes Three, who has been studying relationships for years, has observed that the stronger the parental relationship, the more the children benefit. Many children experience emotional distress when parents have marital discord. They feel it when their parents fight or when either of them are unhappy. Unfortunately, kids are notorious for taking responsibility for their parents' distress.

Dr. Gottman's research has shown that two important things can be done to improve the relationship; handle conflict more effectively and become better friends. In my practice, I've found one way couples can stay connected and avoid the build-up of resentment is to regularly check in. The point is for each partner to get an emotional read on each other, clear up any misunderstandings and use the opportunity to remind them of their affection for each other. I have had some couples in my practice who have conditioned themselves out of the loving contact they once had as they manage their kids and other life requirements. Often, all they need is a reminder to prioritize respectful and loving behavior at transitional moments (coming and going, bed time) and mindfully carve out time for their relationship in the form of date nights, walks or time on the couch just talking after the kids are asleep.

As you put more energy into bridging the gap between you and your partner where you each start to feel cared for and secure with each other again, relationship satisfaction and overall happiness can be positively impacted. A boost in marital happiness can impact individual happiness which can only positively trickle down to your children.

Many busy parents feel guilty about allocating time for the marriage in lieu of their kids. According to Christine Carter, Ph.D. in her book, Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps to More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

We don't need to worry that we are spending less time with the kiddos than traditional parents did during that supposedly blissful era of the nuclear family, circa 1965. Research shows that more than half of us feel guilty about how little time we spend with the kids. I'm here to say, let it go. We're not spending less time with our kids than our parents spent with us. Married mothers now spend 21 percent more time caring for their children than they did back then! Dads are stepping up, too: though they still spend less than half the time caring for kids that moms do, they've doubled the amount of time they spend since "Leave It to Beaver" was the gold standard.

If you prioritize staying emotionally attached, you will be modeling a healthy relationship for your children. For example, rather than feel guilty for going out on a date night with your spouse and leaving the kids behind, be sure they understand that "mommy and daddy need special time together, too." You will be teaching them the invaluable lesson of the importance of adult intimate relationships.

The marriage or parental relationship is the very foundation of the family. Parents, give your relationship the time and attention it needs for the sake of you both -- and your kids. The lessons they internalize as they observe your healthy relationship will positively resonate with them many years down the line.

Read more here: Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-29-2015, 01:18 PM
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Re: Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

Thanks for the article. If you focus on your kids to the exclusion of your marriage and end up divorced, your kids won't thank you for it.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 08:01 AM
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Re: Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

This is so true. I wonder though; if the parents don't take the time to connect and instead shut each other out or bicker in front of the kids does it come back to bite them with bad behavior from the kids?
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 09:59 AM
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Re: Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

I think the article could have some credibility on the fact couples never reconnect. I have been married twice now, the first time I was 18 and we were married for 4 years before we decided to have kids. Once our daughter was born, our marriage went to crap. and I left him after her first birthday. This is what I believe happened. For the first part of our marriage it was all about us, we could do what we wanted when we wanted etc. Once she was born we couldn't do those things anymore. I was completely happy taking care of her and spend the majority of my time with her. I also gained alot of weight during pregnancy and didn't feel sexy anymore it took a year for me to loose the weight, but in the meantime, we weren't having sex very much. I was so happy to have my daughter, I forgot about my husband and that is where it went down hill. (just to keep on story line when I left him I found out I was pregnant so we had to wait until she was born to divorce).

So now my kids are 17 and 14 (almost 15) and I am remarried. I have been with my husband for 14 years (married for 3 months) Since I already had kids when I met him he understood the bond I had with them and was able to share in that bond because it made me who I am. We grew as a family unlike my first marriage where we grew apart.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 05:05 PM
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Re: Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

I don't know what I would do if my kids were put ahead of me with my hubby, and he feels the same. Modeling a happy, close, loving relationship is the BEST thing you can give your kids.

Long term relationship of 25 years.
Finally made it legal 10/3/14
Three children 23, 21 and 15.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 05:05 AM
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Re: Parents, Your Kids Need You To Focus On Your Marriage Too

I agree that the marriage itself should be viewed as a main priority by both spouses, because the health, or lack of it, can and will affect not only their own personal well-being, but also that of their children.

Obviously, the needs of young children do need to be prioritized to a certain extent, but I think modern Society places far too much emphasis on the never ending list of apparent wants and needs of children. What children need most (besides food, shelter and love) is a stable, happy home with stable happy parents.

I absolutely agree with:-

Good parenting sometimes means putting your marriage first.

Unfortunately, kids are notorious for taking responsibility for their parents' distress.
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