“You’ve lived out your fairytale courtship, enthralled yourself with exciting wedding and honeymoon planning, and made a happy home together,” writes the staff of FamilyLife. “Then you found that ‘Happily Ever After’ usually doesn’t end there.”
Adding children to your family brings immense joy with new and exciting experiences, notes the FamilyLife staff. “In addition to the obvious earthly responsibilities, we also feel an immense sense of pride and responsibility – spiritually – as we commit our lives to bringing up our children in God’s Kingdom.”
For some couples though, having children can be a tough transition. We get caught up with tracking milestones, keeping up with sports teams, church activities, taking family vacations, making school lunches and rushing to and from soccer or ballet. However, a hectic life with kids isn’t a death sentence for your marriage! Here are a few tips to keep a marriage – even after kids – alive:
1. Have Meaningful Conversations
It might sound like a no-brainer, but a lot of couples experience “kid brain.” You know that state of mind where all conversations revolve around the kids?
First, it’s important to connect with God individually and then come together with your spouse on a meaningful level. Take 10 minutes each morning to read a devotional book and pray together daily. Mix in one-on-one talks with your spouse while enjoying kid-free activities such as walking the dog, going out to eat, taking a class or joining a couples’ book club.
2. Set Aside Time for the Relationship
Sometimes it can be hard to get in your daily devotion time, or maybe you’re not able to connect with your spouse (kid-free) as often as you need to. Treat your relationship like a savings account and pay yourself first – make sure to set aside time for your relationship first. Set up a recurring monthly date night, pick a weekend for a ‘stay-cation’ or attend a Weekend to Remember event in your area.
3. Keep Your Marriage the Central Relationship in the Home
Keeping in line with your priorities – God, spouse and then children – will make for an inspired and happy marriage. In the end, kids want to see their parents happy and in love – it’s all about balance! Couples who can only relate on matters involving kids will experience a rude awakening years down the road when they grow up and leave the nest. Make sure you nourish your relationship with God and your spouse, not just your children’s parent.
4. Set Spouse-Time Rules
It’s important to set aside “spouse time” without kids, but it’s equally important to set guidelines and rules to ensure you’re connecting emotionally and spiritually. As parents, there will be plenty of times when you need to talk about the kids, but make it a point to have certain occasions where you don’t allow “kid talk,” and instead, you focus on uninterrupted “adult talk” about each other’s jobs, hobbies, and what’s going on aside from soccer practice or ballet.
Keep in mind that date night doesn’t always have to be a lavish production – find another married couple to swap babysitting responsibilities and take turns watching the kids in each other’s homes. This will allow you to have private time without leaving the house.
5. Reflect on Your Spiritual Journey Together
Many times we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and forget to reflect on the journey God has already set in motion for us. Spend time with your spouse remembering and celebrating the milestones in your marriage and times that God answered big prayers for your marriage and family – your first date, your wedding day, birth of each child, etc.
Taking the time to appreciate how far you’ve come in your spiritual journey is an easy and rewarding way to reconnect in a marriage. Dig up old home movies, visit the restaurant where you met or go through your child’s baby book together.
6. Be Intentional About Intimacy
Intimacy in a marriage creates spiritual and emotional oneness with your spouse, ultimately bringing your relationship closer to God. To keep intimacy at the forefront of your relationship, set aside specific intimate time, don’t allow children in the bedroom after a certain age, and make it a point to be romantic with each other. Romantic gestures such as sending flowers to work or surprising your spouse with a clean house or completed chore can go a long way. Even sending a simple text letting them know you’re praying about them sets the mood for physical and spiritual intimacy.
7. Reaffirm Your Commitment
Remember your commitment to God and your spouse. In God’s eyes, being united to your spouse means forming a permanent bond in the form of a lifelong marriage – even when the relationship becomes more difficult or changes. When God says, “become one flesh,” he refers not only to the physical union of a husband and wife in marriage, but also to every other area of life including spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social. Regularly pray together, reflecting on your total commitment to God and to each other.
Life is never going to be perfect, and we all experience trials, rough patches and times when we feel disconnected from God, our spouse or our children. Keep your priorities front-of-mind, make time for and center your relationship with God and your spouse before anything else and you’ll find a marriage filled with love, meaning and abundance. We know that God will honor our marriage and family through His many blessings.
For more than three decades, FamilyLife, co-founded by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, has focused on a mission of using practical, Biblical principles to build healthier marriages and families. They work in over 100 countries to help to transform lives and restore hope through marriage getaways, video events, small-group Bible studies, radio broadcasts, an orphan care ministry, FamilyLife publications and online resources.
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