Marriage is hard. And it’s especially hard with kids.
Knowing how much of a compromise marriage can be – knowing that you have to consider someone else’s personality and feelings other than your own – knowing that you have to work together in this life instead of doing things your way – circumstances can get rocky, trying, and downright difficult.
So, what are some tips on how to strengthen your marriage – especially when your whole life is revolved around your kids?
My husband and I have been married with kids for almost 5 years, and the first 3 years were extremely rough for us. Marriage wasn’t as fun, exciting, or fulfilling as others made it out to be. But, after consistently incorporating these five things below over the last two years, we have reached a place in our marriage where we have never been closer, never been happier, and have never been more obsessed with each other. It’s even better now than when we were dating – and that says a whole lot to the success of these tips to strengthen your marriage!
1. Go on dates as often as possible.
Some people do this once a week – once every two weeks – or spontaneously. But in any case, whatever your work schedules look like and whatever you can do to squeeze in some alone one-on-one date time together, DO IT! Let the dates be something exciting, too – something out of the norm, something you wouldn’t normally do daily with the kids around. Go indoor skydiving, to a drive-in movie, ice skating, miniature golfing, rent segues, and explore downtown on a Saturday. Make these dates fun, exciting, different – a way to make new memories with your spouse that you will remember forever. When you look at planning these dates with the mindset as if you were a couple of high school kids getting to know each other – it brings out creativity, thinking outside of the box with super cool date ideas to strengthen your marriage.
2. Keep your sex life active, fresh, and fun.
One of the most important parts of marriage is sex – if not THE most important part of marriage. Sex brings unity, understanding, connection, and love – a oneness that only this intimate act can fulfill. And sure – let’s be real – with kids, sometimes the last thing we want to do after a long day of screams and spit-up is having sex with our spouse. Realize, though, that to have a strong marriage with children, stepping up your sensual side is highly crucial! Buy some new lingerie, surprise your showering spouse by jumping in too, order an adult toy you’ve always wanted to try, get the latest greatest lubrication and try it out together, shut down all electronics when the kids go to sleep, and have some fun. Trust me – both of you will be so glad you did.
3. Find “your thing” and do it together daily.
My husband and I have our “things” that we like to do – without kids, without friends, without family members – just activities that only the two of us can relate to, that only the two of us enjoy with each other and no one else. Pick a show to watch together on Netflix and watch an episode together every night before bed. Find a bottle of wine that both of you enjoy, and drink a glass each together at night while sitting in the living room discussing your day. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, anything that costs money, anything that anyone else can understand, even. Just strengthen your marriage by finding “your thing” and doing it together, all the time.
4. Purposefully fulfill their love language daily.
If you haven’t taken the Five Love Languages test yet – DO IT. Like right now. And have your spouse do it too! Once you identify their love language, make it a point to fulfill that love language of theirs every day.
For example, if your spouse loves physical touch, walk up behind them, hug them, grab their butt in the kitchen, or give them a passionate kiss during a random part of the day. If quality time is their thing, hire a babysitter on a Saturday night and have a nice steak dinner. If they’re all about words of affirmation, leave them a note expressing how proud you are to be their spouse. If acts of service make them happy, do all of your chores – AND theirs, too. If receiving a gift would brighten their day, have a brand new shirt, set of golf balls, or massage gift card sitting on their nightstand. In any case – once you figure out what their love language is, be conscious of fulfilling that need in their heart every single day, helping to strengthen your marriage along the way.
5. Put your spouse first. Always.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in kids – their schedules, problems, wants, and needs. But while our most important job on the planet is to raise great humans, it’s equally as important (if not more important) for your kids to see how much mommy and daddy love each other. There always needs to be a high level of respect shown between both parents in front of the children. And as hard as it can be with marriage – disagreements on how to raise the kids, arguments over finances, parenting roles, heated moments over mundane problems – remember that this journey of raising kids is a journey for the both of you – together. Chase after peace, compromise, and unconditional love for your spouse. Pursuing those things will always bring harmony and strengthen your marriage at the end of the day.
If you’ve been doing all 5 of these things above, yet you’re still in a rough spot in your relationship – keep doing them, and DO THEM EVEN MORE. Your marriage is worth fighting for – so don’t give up. It starts with you – and the more you do things yourself to strengthen your marriage, the more your spouse will begin to follow suit, too.