Maintaining a strong marriage through parenting challenges isn’t easy … but it’s possible. (Especially with these four tips!)
Guest Post by Esther Littlefield of WellnessMomLife
Maintaining a strong marriage can be difficult without any added pressures. Once you add kids into the mix, the stress can increase. And when your parenting doesn’t look like what you expected, this can often be a source of conflict for for many couples.
There is definite evidence to show that marriages struggle when a family experiences the loss of a child. It makes sense, then, that marriages could also suffer when there are unexpected parenting challenges.
- Perhaps you have a child who has struggled with depression or anxiety.
- Maybe your child has been diagnosed with a major illness or developmental disability, which you were not expecting.
- Perhaps you have a child that is particularly intense, and requires a lot of mental and emotional energy to parent.
All of these parenting scenarios, along with numerous others, can cause your marriage to suffer.
You may put your relationship with your spouse on the back burner due to your child’s health needs. Or you may be so exhausted from caring for your children that you have no energy for physical intimacy or emotional connection. Maybe you and your spouse have extremely different views of your child’s behavior, and you cannot agree on how to handle it.
Here are 4 Ways to Maintain a Strong Marriage Through Parenting Struggles:
Make Time for One Another
When experiencing parenting challenges, making time for each other as a couple can be a stretch. It often requires extra effort and planning. It may require financial resources, because you’ll need to get a babysitter or spend money on date night.
Making time for each other doesn’t have to mean big stuff, like a weekend away or a fancy night out. It can be as simple as choosing one evening per week that you are committed to connecting with each other, even if it’s at home. It could be playing a game together, or chatting for 15 minutes, instead of immediately turning on the television after a long day.
Get and Stay on the Same Page
If you have a child with special needs, health concerns, or a highly intense or strong-willed child, it is absolutely essential that you and your spouse get and stay on the same page.
It’s healthy for children to see their parents disagree in a positive manner. But when it’s about parenting issues, these discussions are much better done in private.
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You must present a united front to your child, even if you don’t always agree behind closed doors.
When your child has an issue that needs to be addressed, and it’s not clear how you and your spouse want to handle it, you can simply say, “Mom and Dad need to talk about this, and then we will discuss it with you.”
Appreciate One Another
Another area that can be tricky when experiencing parenting struggles is when both partners are pouring a lot into the relationship, but neither one is feeling appreciated.
My husband and I went through a period when this was the case, and it was really difficult. Neither of us was taking the time to acknowledge what the other person was doing for the family. We both ended up feeling unappreciated and unloved.
When going through unexpected parenting challenges, often there is added stress on the relationship, as well as physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion.
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If you don’t already do this, take time each day to acknowledge and appreciate one thing your spouse does.
Get outside input or support.
There may be times that the challenges of parenting are too much to handle on your own. It may be helpful to get into counseling, a parenting support group, or a small group at your church.
Connecting with other people who have been through similar experiences, or a neutral third party that can help navigate the way, is incredibly valuable to your marriage.
Sometimes it can seem counterintuitive to add another thing to your schedule, especially if you are already feeling stretched thin. But there are times that getting this outside input is truly what will help your marriage stay afloat.
If you want to have a strong marriage and be able to actually enjoy marriage through the midst of parenting challenges, then don’t be afraid to reach out and get help when needed!
Maintaining a strong marriage through parenting struggles can be a challenge, but it can also be highly rewarding. When you experience a particularly difficult day with your kids, it’s incredibly encouraging to have your partner to turn to and rely on for support.
If you’re looking for a book to help encourage you to put your spouse before your kids in order to grow your marriage, check out Patrick and Ruth Schwenk’s new book, For Better or For Kids. Erin had the opportunity to read this book before it released, and this is what she had to say about it:
“In a countercultural move, For Better or For Kids, addresses an increasing epidemic in modern American homes–child-centered marriages. With both humor and vulnerability, Ruth and Patrick share how having children changed their marriage–and how learning to focus on each other first not only made them better spouses but also better parents.” ~Erin Odom
What has helped your marriage survive parenting struggles?
Esther Littlefield is a feisty pastor’s wife to her husband, Scott, and mom to her spirited daughter, KJ. They live in Maine where they enjoy as many outdoor adventures as possible in the midst of homeschooling, business, and church life. Esther is the founder of WellnessMomLife, helping moms balance marriage, motherhood, and ministry by caring for their personal, physical, spiritual, and relational wellness. Esther offers a free marriage challenge for moms to help them improve their attitude in their marriages.