Keeping the Romance Alive While Raising Kids
by: Ashley Willis
Raising kids is a blessing and a privilege, but it can take a huge toll on our marriage if we aren’t careful. When we stop pursuing each other during the childrearing years, the romance slowly begins to die. My husband and I have known couples who did this and decided to separate or even divorce simply because they “fell out of love” with one another. This breaks my heart because it doesn’t have to be this way.
As I listened to their stories, I realized that these couples all had several things in common that eventually led to the unraveling of their marriages:
1. Each couple had never taken any time away from their kids.
No dates. No nights away. No vacation without kiddos. They just pushed on through the day to day, rarely taking time for one another. They told themselves they didn’t need the time away together. And, it took a tremendous toll on their marriages.
2. Each couple had consistently placed their marriage on the back burner and put the kids first.
As parents, we want to do everything possible to take great care of our children. Putting them first seems like the right thing to do, right? These couples assumed that their marriage didn’t need attention while they were raising their kids, and their relationship suffered greatly in the process
3. Each couple fell into the “zombie marriage trap.”
They hoped their marriage would survive on auto-pilot. They told themselves that they would work at reigniting the romantic flame once the kids were out of the house. Sadly, they were never able to take that time. The marriage didn’t survive.
Tragically, this is a natural pit to fall into in marriage, but there are things we can do to fight against it and keep the romance alive while raising our children.
First of all, we must be intentional about nourishing our marriage daily by talking to each other regularly, showing affection, listening intently to one another, leaving each other love notes, putting the kids to bed early to have some alone-time before bed, etc. When we disagree, we need to hash it out in a loving way and not assume that things will “fix themselves in time.” They won’t. We must keep on talking not only about the kids but also about our hopes, dreams, fears, etc.
Secondly, we need to make a regular date night a priority. Whether money is tight, time margins are thin, or our kids don’t like us being away, we must have a little alone time together. It is like a breath of fresh air, especially when you have young kids or snarky teens. We all need it. So, look for ways to make it happen for your family. If money is tight, swap babysitting duties with some trusted friends, every month. If you’ve had a hard time finding a sitter, ask your neighbors for recommendations, talk to your church nursery workers, or go to the local YMCA or parks and rec to see when their next “Parents Night Out” is happening. It takes a little work, but it is so worth it, and this precious time together will keep your romance sizzling.
Thirdly, we must resist the status quo of putting our marriage “on hold” or “autopilot” while raising our kids. It simply doesn’t work. The very best gift we can give our kids is them seeing and knowing that their parents have a healthy, happy, and loving marriage that they can look to as a good example. We must prioritize our spouse and marriage before our kids to cultivate and maintain a good marriage. We can do this and make sure our child’s needs are met. This isn’t an “either/or” kind of decision. As parents, we foster emotional stability and the feeling of safety within the hearts of our children when they know their parents are prioritizing their marriage and still have it for each other.