When you were first married, spending time together was your greatest joy. And you paid each other loads of attention. But just a few years later, that’s probably all changed. Because neglecting each other is the most common mistake married couples make. Until suddenly the connection between you is gone.
Men usually get that way by over-prioritising their work and social life. Some women do the same, of course, but much more often, women really start neglecting their husbands once the children arrive. And that really matters. Because relaxing, talking and being affectionate together is just as important as everything else that you do. You fell in love because you spent time together. You’ll fall out again if you stop.
In fact, more women wreck their marriages by putting their children ahead of their husbands than any other way. It’s understandable because child-rearing is very demanding. And nowadays we somehow feel guilty if we’re not heavily involved with our children.
But actually, modern men and women are more involved with their children than ever before. And nowadays working mothers often spend more time with their children than stay-at-home mothers did a generation ago.
But all those hours don’t really help that much. Because what children really need is to see their parents being happy together. That’s what inspires them to learn the skills that they will need to have good relationships of their own.
What else matters? Being warm and sensitive. Reading together. Eating together, and talking one on one. Because children do need lots of attention and encouragement. But give it to them in five-minute bursts! And listen to them without criticising, so that they tell you everything. They’ll remember those moments forever, and you’ll head off no end of problems! Like realising that they’re falling in with the wrong sort of friends, for example.
Be a good role model, because that teaches them your values. And helps them appreciate how hard adults have to work. Praise their efforts just as much as their achievements, because learning to work hard, for example at schoolwork and chores, is a key success factor in life.
Help them learn to make good choices. Set clear expectations, and enforce them. And keep your promises! Because that’s how children learn to control their impulses and to work towards distant goals.
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And be flexible about your role in your marriage. Neither of you arguing that your career’s more important, or insisting on controlling any other aspect of your lives. Like housework or parenting.
That can be surprisingly difficult, especially for women, because they usually want to set the standards at home. But do try, because your husband won’t help at all if you criticise! Instead encourage him to take part by complimenting his work, even though he does things his way instead of yours. Don’t assume you’re the better parent, or impose your priorities on him. And you’ll quickly be surprised how much more fun you’re both having. He’ll even become better than you at some things!
What else can you do?
Take care of yourself, and don’t try to do too much. Eat well, exercise, and do just about anything you enjoy! From five minutes with your feet up to an aerobic workout.
And spend time with your husband! Especially being intimate together. Because when the kids go to bed, your husband still wants to see a hint of that lovely wild girlfriend he fell in love with.
Like when did you last really kiss? How often do you hold hands? Really laugh together? Express your commitment to each other. Talk about what you like doing in bed.
Good couples protect their emotional lives from the demands of work and family. And they find ways to talk together without the children. Because children don’t only prevent you from making love. They wreck the intimate chatter that’s crucial to a marriage. So don’t let your children have the first call on you, especially when you’re talking together. Kids do get that, I promise.
Modern working lives also mean that you’re exhausted when you get together again in the evening and can find yourselves clashing all evening.
So the moment you’re both home, sit down and spend a few minutes together over a small snack. That sends your body the message that it’s time to wind down. Tell the kids to stay out of the way, make small talk, or just sit close and enjoy one another’s company. Soon you’ll be more relaxed and back in tune with each other.
And do prioritise your love life together. Act on even the most fleeting impulses, and make sure you create opportunities to be passionate. Because figuring out how to be more intimate together is the first step towards a much happier life for you both.