It’s easy to let your marriage slip after having kids. Kids demand so much from you and it can feel like time with your spouse is at the bottom of your “to do” list. Even though I’m a licensed psychologist and work as a therapist for women and couples, I’m just as guilty of allowing my marriage to run on auto-pilot.
Here are five ways to make your marriage a priority:
- Daily couch time. Yes, date nights are great, but the daily time matters most. I recommend to all my couples in therapy to spend 15 minutes of “couch time” each day. Use this time to check in about your day, discuss any issues, and share your feelings with each other. This daily time to connect will help you feel closer to your spouse over time.
- Don’t underestimate small gestures. We forget that it’s the little things that make us fall in love: how your husband makes your coffee every morning, the flowers he brings you “just because,” the show you love to watch together. Preeminent marriage researcher John Gottman found that happy couples keep a “5:1 ratio” of positive to negative interactions. This may sound daunting, but when you think of all the little things that count — saying “I love you” before bed, sharing a kiss when you get home from work, taking walks around the neighborhood — it’s not too hard to keep a positive, loving vibe in your marriage. Remember each other’s Love Languages, and speak them.
- Share the load. This will look different for every couple, but it’s important that you feel like partners in parenting and housework. It’s too much for any one person to do alone (but major respect to the single parents who do it all!). Sharing the load — dad doing baths or sports pick-up some nights, taking turns making dinner or washing dishes — will free you up in time and energy to connect with your spouse later on. In fact, studies have found that couples who have a more equal division of household chores, have more sex and are happier!
- Adjust priorities. Some days, I realize that I’ve given my phone more attention than my husband! Or it could be work, friends, your parents, or hobbies that are taking either your or your husband’s time away from your marriage. See if you can lighten your responsibilities in other areas — even if that means saying no to volunteering at church or being your kid’s Troop Leader — to refocus on your spouse.
- Ask for help. We need a village to raise kids and our modern world is not set up for it. Still, be proactive about creating a support system for yourself and leaning on it for help, whether that’s a moms’ group, church friends, neighbors, extended family, babysitters, or professional help like a therapist. Have a community around you that encourages and champions your marriage and family. Mom life can be isolating, so we all need our tribe.
It’s normal for marital satisfaction to take a deep dive when kids come along. You’re not alone if your marriage feels like it’s the last thing on your mind. By infusing our marriages with daily time together and small gestures of love, asking for help and sharing the load, and adjusting our other commitments, we can get our marriages back to the top of the priority list where they belong.
Dr. Camden Morgante is a licensed psychologist, writer & speaker, wife, and mom of two. She has a private practice in Knoxville providing therapy to women and couples. When she’s not working, Camden enjoys trying new local restaurants with her husband, doing yoga, reading 3 books at a time, and finding fun activities around town to do with her kids. She is involved with a local church and MOPS group. You can connect with Camden and learn more about working with her on her website www.drcamden.com or on Instagram and Facebook.
Headshot by Holly Catherine Photography.