“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” ~ Matthew 19:6
Marriage is hard work. Adding kids can sometimes make it even more challenging. Having kids does not hurt your marriage, but just adds another element to it.
Kids truly are a blessing from the Lord and they have enhanced our family in so many ways. However, it caused us to be a lot more intentional about our relationship with each other.
I was fortunate to see many marriage relationships when first having kids. Some of them, I avoided using as a model for my relationship. I constantly saw women clearly obsessed with their kids way more than their husbands. It was very apparent in their actions and communication. Even when the family was all together, it would still look like dad was on an island alone and mom & kids were on another together…rather than a family unit.
Throughout the years, I’ve realized this dynamic was created by the mom in many instances. I’ve gone through times where our family dynamic looked the same. I was nothing short of obsessed with my 3 little guys and poured EVERY single ounce of me into them. The thing about being a mom is that even after you birth them they still feel like part of your body and you willingly sacrifice daily for them in so many ways.
God convicted me. This “normal” mentality was not the model He created for the way things should run in a family. Here, I am reminded of something important I have learned. Doing things God’s way always bring everyone more joy and happiness. My way just wasn’t working.
Over time, He showed me some important ways we could still have a great marriage, while having children, keeping our marriage in the proper place.
1. Set a firm bedtime for your children.
Almost every single night, after the kids are in bed, we sit on the couch, taking time to vent and share our feelings on different things that happened. This is so life-giving to our relationship. For couples with little kids, this can be a tough. We feel like we don’t have the time to do this because our children are always around. I see many parents struggle with this. I did too.
I didn’t want to embrace the hard nights of getting them to adjust to a consistent bedtime, and the accompanying fits of intense crying. However, after reading many books about sleep and what children need, I realized how I was hurting them. They weren’t getting the sleep needed to be healthy. For every child’s age, there is a certain amount of sleep they need to develop correctly. Left to themselves, the kids just weren’t going to get it. So…we sleep trained, enforced a consistent bedtime, and followed this process until it became our new normal. The children realized this was going to happen every single night in this house.
This benefited everyone. They were happier kids because they were refreshed. We were happier because our relationship wasn’t drowning anymore. We were able to spend quality time together every day.
2. Do special things for each other.
The daily hustle and bustle can take our attention away from the relationship God intended to be the most important here on this earth. Whether we want to admit it or not, everyone likes to feel special. No matter the personality type, men and women want to feel special.
It is important to know what your spouse likes, what makes them feel important, and what makes them feel loved. This could be picking up their favorite candy bar, giving them a massage at night, or making their favorite meal. There are many simple things you can do a few times a week that will let your spouse know they are special and not at the bottom of your to-do list.
3. Be vulnerable and honest.
Have “Check-In’s” with each other about your struggles and specific needs within the marriage relationship.
Be honest. Be open.
There were many times I didn’t share areas I was struggling, thinking “I’m keeping things peaceful in our marriage” and didn’t want to ruffle the waters. However, that does more harm than good to the relationship.
The blessing truly comes from being honest with each other about your struggles in life, challenges in parenting, and obstacles within the marriage relationship. This brings a deeper level of closeness as you share the good & bad feelings you experience. Nothing should be at a surface level in our marriages. Sharing at a surface level exposes us for the enemy to work in our hearts and minds.
We have learned to be open, even if the response is not be perfect. It is worth pursing the depth God has intended for our marriages.
4. Pray about it daily.
This seems simple, but there were many times I did not pray about my marriage. I wondered why chaos was slipping in. I would pray about my kids, my friends, all of my needs and wants…but not my number one ministry on this earth.
After 12 years, we have been through our share of super highs and overwhelming lows. In all seasons, I realized prayer was the key. Many times we want to fix things and have a plan for doing things to revive our marriages, but the most powerful thing we can do is pray.
Simply giving all my concerns to God, asking him to help our marriage, praying for strength in our relationship, being a light to this world, and leaving it in His hands has done wonders.
I have seen Him bring conviction to us both, more grace, more love, more passion, more kindness, and more effort toward our relationships. God is the God of miracles. When we neglect praying for our marriages, our marriages start to naturally decline.
The only key to a happy marriage is keeping Christ in the center. That is impossible without consistent prayer.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Even on the best of days, I need to lift my marriage up in prayer and God will do the rest of the work behind the scenes.
5. Kiss & Hug more.
This seems to naturally go away when you have a child always pulling for your attention and likes to touch you all of the time. Sometimes as mom’s we can forget how much our husband’s need that feeling of touch and love because we were being touched all day by children.
It takes intention to kiss and hug each other more, not just “Hello” and “Good-Bye.” We have totally been there. There are many weeks that I look back and we may have kissed each other once or twice that day.
It literally changes the entire vibe of our relationship. God has created us to crave love from each other. As a wife, you should be fulfilling your husband’s need for this and vice versa. This definitely means physical intimacy on a regular basis, but also sweet touches when you are together.
This is such a great thing for your children to see and experience as well. I grew up with the best memories from the way my mom and dad were consistently affectionate with each other. It was constant and has lasted to this day. Just watching them showed us the importance of keeping the fire burning with how much they adored each other. I grew up desiring that in my marriage and seeking to keep that going.
This also left me feeling very secure about my parent’s marriage even when friends’ parents were getting divorces left and right. Our children are watching us closely. Make sure you are intentional about the messages you are sending them about their future relationships.
By no means do we have this whole marriage thing figured out. Each day we look to God for help. Some days are fabulous and some days we struggle; but we lean on God and He’s never failed us. Having kids does not have to be a downer to your marriage, but you do have to be more intentional in helping it thrive without leaving it on the back burner. I hope these ideas and tips will help you do that!
For another helpful marriage article, check out :“10 tips for spicing up your Marriage.”
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