Being a parent takes a lot of time and energy. It’s worth every single second, and there will be just as many laughs and moments of joy as there will be frustrations along the way.
But let’s be honest, sometimes your marriage takes a backseat to your kids.
By the time you’re both done with work and childcare, plus school meetings, sporting events, lessons, summer camp, and selling girl scout cookies, there’s not always a lot of time left over for your marriage.
It’s not uncommon for couples to drift apart as every conversation becomes about family and kids and your relationship gets less and less attention.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Having a successful marriage when you’re busy being parents is possible, and that’s better for everyone. You and your partner will feel closer and happier, and your kids will benefit from being brought up by close, committed parents.
Try to inculcate these eight habits for balancing parenthood and marriage.
1. Make Touch A Part Of Your Day
If you’ve ever spent time with a newlywed couple, you know that touch is a big part of their love language. Couples who are still in the honeymoon phase frequently hold hands, put arms around each other, or sit close together.
As your relationship matures and you get busy being parents, these little daily touches are often forgotten. Try bringing them back – regular touch builds intimacy with your partner.
Make time daily to hug. Hold their hand when you’re out together, or just relaxing on the couch. Put your arm around them. Regular touch is a mood booster for both of you and cements your bond.
2. Don’t Neglect Date Night
Dates can soon become a thing of the past when you’re both busy being parents. Time together as a family is vital of course. Family meals and family days out bring you all closer and give you and your kids regular quality time together.
But what about you and your partner? You need regular quality time together too if your marriage is to thrive.
Make date night a regular event, and stick to it. Get a sitter or enlist a willing family member to take care of the kids at home, or even take them for the night.
You and your partner can get dressed up and go out to eat like you used to do, or even enjoy a home cooked meal and a relaxing bubble bath at home. Nurture your marriage by spending time on it.
3. Make Time To Talk
Adult conversation sometimes goes by the wayside when you become parents! Can you remember the last time you had a conversation that wasn’t about school, outings, how to referee a fight between your kids or maybe, sometimes, about work?
Make time every day to talk about everything else in your lives. Just ten minutes over coffee or while cleaning up the dinner things is enough.
Find out what’s going on with each other. Talk about your hopes and dreams and worries and plans. When you can, make time for a longer conversation. Regular talks keep you close and connected.
4. Stay In Touch Throughout The Day
Remember when you were dating and you would text or FaceTime regularly? You don’t have to stop that just because you’re married with kids.
Take time every day to leave your partner little messages. You can text, call, video chat, or even post on their Facebook timeline (don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see!)
A quick love note, a “hey how are you doing?” or sharing an interesting article, funny story, or video you think they’ll love will keep you in their mind and recapture some romance, too.
5. Look After Each Other
It’s really easy to get caught up in the stress of parenting, work, and daily life. Before long, your partner becomes someone you take for granted or someone you mostly communicate with about who’s picking the kids up from football practice this week.
Put a little energy back into your marriage by taking the time to look after each other. After all, you’re a team, and more than that, you’ve chosen to share your lie and raise children together.
Show each other a little appreciation through simple gestures. Maybe make your partner a cup of coffee, or take them up on the offer of a foot rub.
6. Give Each Other Space
Sometimes looking after your marriage means giving each other a break from it! When you become parents, self care often goes out the window.
But if you put your kids and spouse first all the time, you’ll eventually drain your own battery and feel tired and irritable.
Being worn out doesn’t do anyone any good – you or your kids and spouse. Give each other the gift of a little me-time by taking turns to look after the kids alone for an afternoon or evening.
That way you each get time to do something just for you, whether that’s seeing friends, going for a spa day, or just taking a book to the local park for some quiet time.
7. Make Sure You’re On The Same Page
Having a happy marriage while parenting isn’t just about making time for the two of you. It’s about how you are when you’re actively parenting, too. Disagreements about child raising and discipline are a sure fire way to put your marriage under stress.
If you don’t agree on topics such as discipline, they’ll be more tension between the two of you. In addition, kids pick up on discord and might even try to play you off against each other (knowing that if one parent says no, the other will say yes, for example).
Sit down and agree on ground rules for discipline. Decide on guidelines for every aspect of parenting, from bedtimes to pocket money to TV time.
When an unexpected situation comes up, make time to sit and discuss it together and reach an agreement before taking action.
8. Look For The Good In Each Other
It’s natural to get a bit stressed when you’re both busy being parents, especially as one or both of you will most likely have job stress to deal with too.
Add in family issues, illness, or even fun things like a full social calendar, and it’s normal to feel a bit frazzled.
And when you feel frazzled, it’s easy to snipe at each other.
Looking for the good is a simple way to make your marriage happier. Take time every day to find things you love about your partner. Notice all the things they do that remind you why you love them.
Maybe they’re amazing with the kids, or full of fun ideas for family days out, or always ready to support you. Perhaps they took care of a couple of your chores or cooked everyone a fabulous meal.
Look for the good, and you’ll find more of it. Your focus will shift from all the things that are stressing you out and you’ll be reminded why you love being married to this person.
Even better, tell them! Giving each other regular compliments is a fantastic self-esteem boost and brings you closer, too.
You can be busy parents and still have a vibrant marriage, too. Remember, your kids benefit too if both their parents are happy.
By having a healthy, fulfilling marriage, you’re modelling good relationships for your children and setting up healthy but realistic expectations for their future.
Try out our tips and enjoy feeling closer than ever – and enjoy a more harmonious and happy home, too.
Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support, and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.