Parenting is hard, and it can be so easy to let our relationship with our spouse take the backseat when our kids demand so much of us relationally, physically, and emotionally. We are exhausted at the end of the day, and the last thing we may feel like doing is connecting with our husbands– it’s easier to turn on a TV show or do something that doesn’t require even more of us when we are already drained.
But when we neglect our marriage, so many other things will fall apart. God designed marriage to be our first priority after our relationship with Him– not our last. If we don’t nurture our relationship with our spouse intentionally and regularly, we will lose sight of the bigger picture and become much more prone to mental health and other problems, including even bigger marital struggles.
By prioritizing our marriage, we also model to our kids what a healthy marriage looks like. By strengthening our marriage and putting it first, we help our kids feel more secure and safe in the family. This is one of the best legacies you can leave to them!
We touched on some ways we can begin to nurture our marriage in our post Saving Your Relationship After Parenthood, but here are a few more to add to your toolbox:
Build Each Other Up
Oftentimes when we have been married for a while, we begin to notice each other’s flaws more easily than we did at the beginning. Little things that didn’t used to bother us about the other person now get on our nerves, and it can become easy to focus on everything we don’t like about him.
Break this negative cycle by paying special attention to the good qualities that your partner possesses. Compliment and encourage him when he does something helpful or good, and call out growth in him when you see it. As he begins to feel more loved and built up by you, you will also notice your own affections being kindled.
When you get into this positive cycle of affirmation, there is no limit to the intimacy and connection you can cultivate with one another.
Pursue a Shared Passion
Deep connection happens naturally for people who share a passion. Even if you don’t feel like you and your husband have a shared passion, you should be able to find something you both enjoy and do it together. If you can’t think of anything, reach out to a friend or someone who knows you both well.
For example, maybe you both love being outdoors. Plan a camping trip together or map out all of the hikes you want to do and then do one each weekend! Or if you both are foodies, make a plan to try a new restaurant each week together.
Even two seemingly opposite people can find something they both enjoy doing. Spend time together brainstorming what that is for you and then make a plan to do it. Your marriage will be enriched and you will feel closer to each other.
Give Each Other Breaks
A great way to serve each other and ultimately strengthen our marriage is by offering each other breaks. Kids take so much out of us and we all need a break every once in a while.
Whether your husband offers to put the kids to bed so you can enjoy a relaxing bath or you let him enjoy some time out with his friends while you take care of the kids, be creative with the ways you can offer each other a break. You can both talk and plan breaks ahead, offer it when you notice the other is exhausted, or ask for it when you need a break.
Don't get caught up in keeping track of who gets more breaks than whom. Rather, from a serving heart, offer breaks to one another when you feel they need it. When we have an attitude of serving and helping, we experience the fruits of a rich, loving marriage.
Take a Vacation Together
Though it’s not always possible for financial or other reasons, your marriage can greatly benefit if you are able to take a vacation with your spouse, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be an expensive luxury vacation– you can just take a weekend away together while the kids stay at grandma’s.
Getting away together forces you to focus on your relationship because you don’t have the distraction of kids or household duties. It is a time to just be together and enjoy not having any other responsibilities.
It’s okay if a hard conversations come up– use that as an opportunity to work through a problem together. Oftentimes hard conversations will surface when there is the space for them, and those conversations need to be had to get to the healing and growth on the other side.
Keep Working at It
There’s no way around it– marriage takes hard work. You have to be willing to put the work in to reap the benefits. God desires for you to have a rich and fulfilling marriage, but that won’t happen unless you are willing to put in the effort to love your spouse well, and the same for them.
We know it can become discouraging when you feel stuck in your marriage, and we at Florecer Family Counseling are here to help. We work with both individuals and couples and have many tools to help you thrive in your marriage. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.