Hopefully, you like your spouse and hopefully you want to be together until death do you part or something of that sort. If so, then you have some work ahead of you. If you had a healthy marriage before children came along, chances are you can still maintain a healthy marriage after those little bundles of joy invade your home, suck your life force out of you, and wipe their snotty noses on your sleep deprived carcasses.
Since we are all human and we have several other influencing factors in life like careers, bills, health issues, and family and friend dramas that can cause us to become stressed, it can become like a reflex to lash out at our spouses or significant others when we are super stressed and exhausted by the demands of parenting. I don’t care if you have one child or twelve, parenting is a difficult job and it is the one job that is never ending.
Parents of multiples often feel overwhelmed with the many challenges we are faced with while taking care of our children. Certainly as time goes on things get a little easier. However, the challenges are still there, they are just different. The first year was definitely the hardest for us, but that is only relative because our twins are not quite two. I have no idea how hard the teen years will be, but I am hoping that if we do our job well enough now, then our teenagers will talk to us and we can help them through some of the difficulties they are going through without too much hormone driven retaliation from them.
We realized early on after our twins were born that if we were not working together towards a solution to a parenting dilemma then we were working against each other. For quite some time we worked against each other! Often times we would yell and fight about something that we both agreed upon in the end, but weren’t communicating in a way which we both understood to begin with. Our stress levels were maxed out. I can’t tell you how much energy was wasted on stupid arguments that should have been easily resolved. Ultimately it took us about fifteen months after our twins were born for us to realize that the real problem was… da dada da… are you ready for it?? We were spending all of our time and energy in all of our various roles expect our role as a married couple. Meaning Chris would work all day at his job, come home and help with dinner and the kids. I would take care of kids and all manner of household responsibilities during the day. At night, after the kids had finally fallen asleep (because we did not have a single child of the three that went to bed easily) we would either zone out watching a TV show or we would both surf the internet on our phones until we were ready to go to bed ourselves. We might converse about our day some of the time. We were cohabitating and sharing responsibilities caring for our kids, but that was about it.
After our realization that our individual needs were no longer being met, the solution became extremely clear…we had to start scheduling time for each other. I know that sounds totally lame, but it works for us. It has kept us totally accountable for our time and for making sure that we are meeting each others needs as well as keeping time for our other responsibilities, ie blogging, gardening.
We agreed on a certain amount of time that is spent as relationship time each week, meaning that we spend that time doing anything we want as long as it builds us up as a couple. Sometimes we cuddle up and watch a movie. Sometimes I spank Chris in a game of cribbage. Sometimes we sit and talk about life; the kids, our pasts, our future. The point is that we spend time paying attention to one another and focus on us. We also picked a night during the week that is a mandatory love making night. This is an absolute guarantee that we will honor each others need for intimacy at least once a week. The rest of the week is open for spontaneity. The best part of our decision is our monthly date night. We hire a babysitter and go out for the night to do whatever we please, absolutely child free! It has only been six months since we started dating again and it is awesome! We don’t have any family that lives close to us, so getting time away from our kids is nearly impossible unless we hire a babysitter, which costs money, but in the end is necessary. The results have been a less stressed Chris and Callie, and a much happier Mommy and Daddy!
The better your relationship is with your spouse/partner, the better parents you are to your kids. I urge you, if you don’t already do it, take the time to build your relationship with your partner. If you already take time for yourselves, what activities do you and your partner choose to build up your relationship?