How to Prioritize Marriage After Kids
You have lived the life of simple wedded bliss, and that season was beautiful. You had plenty of time for each other because it was just the two of you. No little people running around wanting your attention all the time. It was what you expected for your marriage.
And now, you’ve been blessed with children and the season of life with kids has become your life.
Finding a way to prioritize marriage after kids is often not easy, but it’s essential in keeping your marriage protected from falling apart.
It has to be intentional and involves consistent effort. BUT that effort is totally worth it and necessary to have a happy, healthy marriage.
Let me share the things I have discovered after 7 years of marriage. Some of these are things you can do daily, monthly, and even yearly.
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How to Make Your Spouse a Priority Daily
Practice Open Communication
The first thing all couples need is to have open communication! It seems so simple and yet all too often it is the one thing couples fail to do. Just like any relationship you have that you enjoy, a healthy, open line of communication is a must.
Open communication is more than just, “How was your day?”, or “What do you want for dinner?”.
We are talking about genuine communication that is seeking to stay on the same page with your spouse.
When I was working as a teacher, my husband and I would text throughout the day when we could. Just a, “Hey how is your day?”. It was a simple way to let the other one know we cared and wanted to see how their day was going.
Communication is key to any relationship, but a marriage most of all. You HAVE to be able to sit down with your spouse and be able to have calm, rational, and respectful conversations.
Remember, your kids are watching and they will do what you do!
If you are looking for a good book that will help you openly communicate instead of letting things build up and then explode, I would highly recommend the book, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; the Respect He Desperately He Needs by Emerson Eggerichs.
The basis of the book is this: when a woman doesn’t feel loved, she struggles to respect her husband. When a husband doesn’t feel respected, he struggles to love his wife well. And when either of these things happens, you fall into what is called, “the crazy cycle”. One refuses to meet the other person’s needs, and things start to crumble. BUT if one person can bring themselves to jump off the crazy cycle and put the other person first, great things will happen in your marriage.
Encourage One Another
This one is huge! Ok, so I think all of these things that help prioritize marriage after kids are important, but this is the one you need to make sure you are modeling in front of your kids.
We spend countless hours of our day encouraging and guiding our kids. Whether it be a kiddo who is learning to walk, one who is learning to read, play a new sport, or figure out algebra, we as their parent are their #1 support and source of encouragement.
And, this should also be true for our spouse.
We need to find ways to encourage our spouses. I get it, sometimes it can be tough, and you may feel like you’re digging to come up with something, BUT that one compliment COULD go a long way.
And, your kids NEED to see this modeled. Your kids need to see that you love and encourage your spouse in your partnership that is the foundation of your family.
Be Genuinely Grateful for Your Spouse
I am 100% genuinely grateful for my husband, BUT, being completely honest here, I don’t always do the best job at showing that.
We both feed our time and energy into other people all day long. And it becomes easy to come home and want the other person to handle everything because we have nothing left. BUT, we have to come together and be grateful for what the other provides for our family.
When we aren’t feeling appreciated, communication has to happen right then. You can’t let your exhaustion and lack of energy become something that festers and eventually causes a fight.
Have a discussion with your spouse and just let them know that you feel like you’re spinning your wheels with no cheerleader in your corner. Be careful not to point fingers. It was simply that you felt like you didn’t have a cheerleader/encourager who was helping you feel like what you do is important.
Be honest but also be kind. Cheer for your spouse, they are your 50/50 partner in your family unit.
Listen to Each Other
There can be so much chaos and “noise” in life once you have kids that your spouse can become part of the “noise”, and you begin to tune them out. That isn’t healthy, and you both should really try to make time to listen to each other.
I will admit that I can be found at times to be messing on my phone, or fully engaged in another task when my husband is talking to me. It can be tough to stop what you’re doing and fully engage in conversation, but this is so important.
It is important for your spouse to feel valued, AND it is important to be fully engaged in the conversation.
Your kids need to see this modeled. I would imagine you want your kids to be able to sit down and have a REAL CONVERSATION.
It can be tough to teach them this because I really feel like the world has started to devalue real, genuine conversation, but as parents, we have the greatest responsibility to model and instill this in our children.
Put Down Your Phone
Since I just briefly touched on this, let’s go ahead and talk about it.
Our phones have become our lifeline to so many things. We use our phones as a telephone, calendar, alarm clock, newsstand, a way to stay connected with friends and family, for work, and SO MANY OTHER THINGS!!
We can also use our phones to hide from having any kind of meaningful relationship. You cannot let this become a daily reality with your spouse.
You have to put your phones down to be able to connect to your husband (or wife). I can promise you that your phone cannot help you parent your kids, take you on weekends away, or be the friend you want your spouse to be.
Use Love Languages
What are love languages and why are they important in a marriage?
I’m SO GLAD you asked! A person’s love language(s) is the greatest way a person feels loved. Some feel loved by receiving gifts, some by physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, or acts of service.
My husband and I don’t have the same love languages, and so it takes the effort to meet the other person’s needs.
I AM NOT GOOD AT THIS.
I try, really I do, but because I have a different love language, it is out of my mindset to do these things for my husband. Using your spouse’s love language is hard, but it’s also worth the effort.
The biggest thing you need to know is this: the way a person shows love is the way they want to receive it.
So, if you watch the ways your husband or wife shows you love, then you will likely be seeing the type of love they want in return. For example, if your spouse likes to buy you flowers, chances are their love language is giving and receiving gifts. If you have a cuddler, physical touch is likely one of their love languages.
There are two really great books about love languages- one for meeting your spouse’s needs, and the other for your kids’ needs. “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is the one for couples, and “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman is the one for children.
You MUST be on the same page about how to parent your children.
Even if your spouse makes a parenting call that you disagree with, as long as it isn’t going to affect your child’s health or well-being, you really need to try to support your spouse’s decision.
Now, with that said, it is of utmost importance that you have a RESPECTFUL discussion, just the two of you, to find more common ground on the topic.
Parenting isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but raising your children is a gift that God has bestowed upon you and you should try to be the absolute BEST parents that you can TOGETHER!
It is a one-shot deal and having your spouse along with you for the journey is a HUGE BLESSING!
Be Kind to One Another
This really should go without saying and it should be a simple way to prioritize marriage after kids, BUT, all too often people are kind to others and then disrespectful to their spouse.
We can be super kind in spirit to those we work with, and then come home and have a disrespectful and ungrateful attitude towards our spouse.
Be kind in love towards one another.
Admit When You’re Wrong AND Learn to Forgive
I would have to guess that it’s because of pride that we often struggle to forgive and move on.
Your kids need to see that admitting you’re wrong is good and healthy, and that forgiveness is how you move forward. This is good for everyday relationships, but it’s also good for your kids to see that this is how mom and dad handle things in their marriage.
Redefine Household Responsibilities
If having kids has thrown your household chores for a loop, now is a good time to re-visit this conversation.
As you notice things that your husband once did aren’t getting done anymore, it’s easy to become frustrated. But, there may be other responsibilities he has taken with the kids that now take the time he once used for those things.
As your family grows, make sure you readjust your household expectations so that things are still getting done without having animosity towards each other when things fall through the cracks.
How to Make Your Spouse a Priority Monthly
Spend (Quality!!) Time Together
I REALLY wanted to put this under the daily category, but I’m a realist and I know that having quality time with your spouse every day just isn’t realistic.
After our first kiddo was born, we still did a pretty good job of finding ways to spend quality time together. Even with both of us working, we still found the time for one another.
Fast forward to baby number two, and things changed.
Our second didn’t sleep for the first 5 months, and so finding time for just about anything was a challenge.
Much like any hurdle in life, you attack it together, get through it, and then re-evaluate. And this is just what we did.
Once our second kiddo started sleeping better, we were able to find more time to spend more QUALITY together.
How do you make time for your spouse?
You take the kids to someone who will watch them, and go somewhere that can be just the two of you.
You have meaningful conversations.
Together, find a game that you both enjoy playing and you sit down and play.
When you have a babysitter, take advantage of the time that no kid will be knocking on the door, screaming or crying about something, or just want your undivided attention.
When your kids are all grown up, you will spend your free time with your spouse, and it’s important to make sure you know how to spend time just the two of you.
Make Time for Yourself
Although it may sound counterintuitive when making your marriage a priority, you have to make time for yourself. This also means you need to make time for your spouse to have a break as well.
My husband and I both recognize when we need time for ourselves. And we have found that when we take time to fill our own energy tanks, we can be better for our kids and each other.
Go hang out with your friends, take a walk by yourself, spend time with your family, or one of my favorites- some personal pampering!
A healthy mommy is a happy mommy, and the same can be true for a dad. Each of you needs to take time for yourselves. You will be much better as a team when you both take time for yourself and balance your time away with your time together.
Maintain Your Finances Together
Two of the most complicated things in a relationship are money and sex.
Let’s talk about money first.
You may have a little, you may have a lot, and you may be in an extreme amount of debt. Regardless, you’re managing money every single month to pay the bills. Be sure this is something you’re doing together. And if you aren’t working through the budget together, at least have a conversation about your finances every month so that both parties are informed of your current financial situation.
There is no “your money” and “my money”, there is “our money”.
Your kids need to see that you work together to make your money work for your family. And, although some might argue that talking about money is not a way to prioritize your marriage after having kids, I kindly disagree.
Money is related to feeling secure for a lot of people. Our kids are some of those people, and they need to feel secure.
They need to feel that their needs are met, and you as their parent are responsible for that. Making certain that the household income is being used in a responsible manner is absolutely important and should be handled as a team.
Do Something Together That You Did BEFORE Having Kids
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean they have to define your marriage. In fact, they shouldn’t. And, you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing things together without them. Find someone you can trust to babysit your kids and go do something together without your kids.
Make time for date night. Make time to do something you did before having kids.
Maybe you ran together, played volleyball together, enjoyed playing board games, volunteered together. Whatever you enjoyed doing together before having kids, find a way to make the time to do that now too.
Make Time for Intimacy
Your time with your spouse likely isn’t what it used to be now that you have kids. You feel scattered and pulled in 100 different directions every single day. Pair that with young kids who want to be in your space and touching you all day, or better yet, a breastfeeding baby, and the last thing you want is to be touched by someone else.
Intimacy after kids can be really hard. You know you need to meet that need for your spouse, but you’re exhausted and over touched. Or maybe, you’re on the other side of this, and you’re the one seeking affection.
As with everything else here, you need to talk about it. Make plans for sex. Make plans for cuddling on the couch. Find ways to be intimate with one another even if it’s not sex. Your intimacy with your spouse is one of the special ways your marriage relationship is different from all the other relationships you have. Figure out how to define and make time for intimacy in your marriage.
How to Make Time for Your Spouse Yearly
Take a Trip Together Without Kids
I wish this could be something you’re able to do every month or every other month, but realistically, I know it’s likely not. If you can find just a weekend to get away by yourself with your spouse, I cannot tell you how much this can strengthen your relationship.
Having time away with just your spouse allows you to completely focus your time and attention on them. Imagine a trip where you’re not stopping for bathroom breaks, opening fruit snacks, changing diapers, watching cartoons, etc.
Taking a trip alone with your spouse is a magical experience that allows you to reconnect in a very healthy way. Try to do this at least once per year.
Have a Goal Setting Meeting
Being on the same page in your marriage is what makes your marriage work and function in a healthy way. Every year try to have a planning session where you set financial goals, personal goals, relationship goals, and even goals for how you want to improve your parenting of each of your kids.
This may sound silly, but I am telling you that living your daily life together is so much more enjoyable than constantly feeling like you and your spouse are living in different worlds.
A Healthy Marriage is a Happy Marriage
I hope you have found some advice for how to make your marriage a priority after having kids. Kids are an incredible blessing, but you still need to maintain your marriage relationship with your spouse.
Take the time to have the hard conversations. Make the time your spouse needs to feel connected to you. Find ways to connect with each other daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
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