If you are a parent and have a spouse, then one of the best things you can do for those children is to guard and nurture your marriage. Loving your spouse is a gift to your children. Make it a priority.
Guarding your marriage has unmeasurable benefits. I hold in high esteem the joys and responsibilities of parenting. But parenting children is a season of life. Hopefully your marriage began before you were parents and will continue for decades longer. It should not be put on hold during the season of parenting children or you may emerge on the other side with an empty nest as strangers.
It is a united front before the children. Unless your spouse is about to be abusive with the children don’t interrupt when he/she is correcting or disciplining the children. If you really don’t agree with their methods or ideas then discuss it with them privately. Support each other’s decisions and don’t allow the children to wedge between you.
It’s you believing and saying positive and affirming things about them and to them in front of the children. If you are the stay-at-home parent, be excited when the other arrives home. (not because you are at your whit’s end and need to be relieved, though this will happen, but because you are genuinely happy to be with them) If both parents are employed outside the home, then you can both be happy to be at home together.
It’s you both choosing each other. You chose each other as mates now choose to be with and do things with each other and for each other. Make each other a priority. Let the children see you being appropriately affectionate with each other. They may gag and act like it is gross but it also keeps at bay any doubts in their minds about the security of your marriage and hence their home.
Continue dating. Whether it is once a week or only once a month, do it. Dating does not have to be expensive. A date can be a bike ride or a picnic or a trip to the library. A date can be a dinner and movie or a visit to see a friend. We have a modest entertainment category in our budget. Even if you have zero dollars for a babysitter or entertainment, you can be creative and plan a date at home. After the kiddos are in bed plan a time to be fully attentive to each other and have conversation not centered on the children. Perhaps you could have a special dessert only for two.
My husband wanted to try cross country skiing for a number of years.He thought it would be great exercise and easy. Our park district offered an inexpensive beginners class at the local golf course (think small inclines). We signed up. We went. We fell over and over and over again. Actually I did most of the falling. We laughed. Neither of us has tried it again. But we still love hiking, bicycling, and canoeing.
Here are a few more date ideas:
Bowling, Roller Skating, Mini-Golf, Golf, Driving Range, Shooting Range, Bicycling, Walking, Wall Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Park District or Community College Classes, Car Race, Shopping, Theater (community, high school, professional) Bible Study/small group, volunteer or service projects. Large cities have all kinds of tours. Be a tourist. Go to museums, planetariums, aquariums. Attend community festivals. Visit ethnic restaurants. Keep variety.
Unless one spouse loves planning all the dates and the other does not wish to do so, take turns. Brain storm together to write out a list of possibilities and interests, and then work through the list. Maybe give each other permission to say “absolutely not” to one or two items on the list. Energy, time, and money spent on a date will payback great rewards in your relationship.
I think children feel security and comfort when they see their parents desiring to be together and alone. A strong marriage is a great gift to your children. And it is a good example to them for their future marriages.