As the saying goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. But once kids come, the love and marriage a couple has often does not get prioritized. Parents end up so busy taking care of the children that their marriage takes a backseat.
Parents tend to think that their children should always take priority. While children do require a lot of hands-on care, especially in their younger years, this does not mean that everything else in your life should come last. Raising children and staying married are both long-term tasks, so what do you do? How do you find the time to focus on both?
Parents need to be intentional about their marriages. It is easy to get caught up in child rearing, but it is important to spend time together as a couple as well. Children eventually grow up and leave the nest, leaving you and your spouse together in the home alone. What now?
You may have noticed the rise in gray divorce, in which couples in their 50s and 60s get divorced after being together for decades. Many of these divorces occur as part of empty nest syndrome. The children leave the home and the spouses are left together. In a lot of cases, they do not know what to do at this point. They have nothing keeping them together. They have no shared interests. They do not talk with each other. At this point, they may not even like each other anymore.
Is this what you envision for your marriage? If not, then you need to take action now – while your children are still young. Otherwise, the end of your childrearing years could also signal the end of your marriage. Prevent divorce by prioritizing your marriage now – not later. Here are some reasons why.
It Will Improve Your Relationship
Relationships are not just about intimacy. The typical relationship has three parts, or roles: lovers, friends, and partners. The lovers’ part focuses on sex and physical intimacy. As friends, you are focusing on common interests and doing things together. As partners, you two are running a household together.
Once children are born, you and your spouse are mostly focused on the partnership role. You are working together to take care of the kids and keep the household running smoothly. Being friends and lovers takes a back seat.
But it shouldn’t. Yes, parenting can be hard and stressful. There is a lot involved, but the trick is to not overfocus on it. It is important to ensure your children get the care they need, but many parents go way overboard in their department. Make sure to dedicate time to your marriage as well. Even 10 to 15 minutes a day can help create a foundation for your marriage.
It Creates a Healthy Environment
Children thrive in healthy environments. They need a loving, positive environment, and their parents need to work to help provide that for them. This will go a long way in helping kids understand what a healthy relationship looks like.
Children tend to mimic their parents. What kind of example are you to your children? Are you showing them that marriage is all work and no play, with a focus on productivity? Or are you showing them that marriage can be loving, positive, and playful?
It Models Intimacy
Prioritizing your marriage is good for children. It shows them that you and the other parent have a healthy relationship. You are showing them that relationships take a lot of work, but in the end, they can be rewarding. Your children will see an intimate relationship in action, which will be helpful in the future when they choose a partner who truly loves and respects them.
It is Liberating for Your Children
When parents are overly involved with their children, it affects the kids. They feel like their sole purpose is to please their parents. They may be afraid to hurt their parents’ feelings, which can be harmful as they get older. Instead of leaving the nest and focusing on their own romantic relationships, children may become overly involved with and attached to their parents. They end up being called people pleasers, mama’s boys, and other derogatory names.
You want your children to forge their own identity. You want them to be independent. Making them too overly dependent on their parents only harms them, as they should not be in charge of their parents’ happiness.
It is a Long-Term Investment
Marriage is an investment, so treat it that way. You are investing in yourself. You are getting a relationship where there is love, laughter, companionship, and intimacy.
Parenting is also an investment, but it is also demanding and one-sided. Your goal is to raise smart, self-sufficient children who are prepared to take on life’s challenges. Legally, your role ends when your children turn 18, although your relationship will last a lifetime.
The relationship you have with your spouse is different from the relationship you have with your children. The relationship with your partner existed before the children were born. It takes a lot of effort to maintain that relationship so that it continues to exist once the children leave the home.
Seek Legal Help
Once children come, it is easy to get so caught up in parenting that the marriage takes a backseat. You need to be intentional and proactive about your marriage or else it will end in divorce.
Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler has 30+ years of experience with divorce. We understand all the legal and emotional aspects. Schedule a consultation with our office by calling (954) 346-6464 or filling out the online form.