When Baby makes 3… Pay Attention to your Marriage – A top tip to protect your relationship during the parental transition.

When our first daughter was just 8 months old, my husband won an award through his business – a trip for two to Mauritius. We didn’t hesitate. We spent three glorious weeks having a second honeymoon in Mauritius – just the two of us. Our baby stayed with my parents who were more than delighted to have her to themselves. She thrived, they survived (very happily), and after the first 24 hours of longing, we had a ball, reliving what it was like to be free and to have a full night’s sleep!

This was the first of three such memorable holiday breaks we enjoyed together before our children were teenagers. Looking back, there is no guilt or regret in any of these decisions to take time out together.

After 36 years of marriage, I feel qualified to talk about the importance of nurturing the spousal relationship, because it is the best thing you can do for your children.

When a new baby arrives, life as we know it changes. Whilst the change is good and yes, we deal with the challenges of adjustment, the one relationship that is generally most neglected is that of husband and wife. It is understandable because of the demands on the new Mom – everything seems to revolve around the baby’s needs. Many of the working mothers I coach raise concerns about what they describe as the deterioration of their relationship with their husband in the first year or two of becoming parents. They comment that they are both too tired to talk to each other except about practical domestic issues, a social life is a distant memory, and let’s not speak of the absence of romantic candle-lit dinners!

So what am I promoting?

I believe that to break the inevitable repetitive pattern of work followed by home chores and possibly more work after hours, it is essential for a couple to build leisure time out together into their weekly or monthly schedule.

It is easier to implement this if you have access to a reliable trustworthy support system. If you don’t have parents or in-laws or other close family or friends who would be happy to take charge, it is worthwhile developing a relationship with a good babysitter, and investing in her services. The value in the time you spend as a couple far outweighs the cost of the babysitter and the cost of the outing.

Time out together could include any or all of the following …

  • Arrange a date night.

Having a date in the calendar once a month as a start can develop into a more regular event.  It doesn’t have to be a big budget dinner; a movie, a casual coffee or breakfast together away from home for an hour or two, is a treat. You might even find after a while that the baby is not the central topic of conversation.

  • Take a weekend break together or even just one night away from home.

This may take more courage to do, but you have no idea how therapeutic it is. Working moms will often give the counter argument that they would feel guilty to do this seeing that they don’t see their child all week while they are working. My response is that a weekend away with your husband will benefit your child more in the long run. I have it on good authority from many women I have coached, that a weekend away restores sanity (in other words they begin to feel ‘normal’ again) and reminds them of why they fell in love in the first place. Happy loving parents are good for the well being of your children.

  • Plan a longer holiday without the kids.

Now this is daring. There will be family holidays, but sometimes the two of you need to recharge your batteries and do some serious team building to keep the family together. If the children are left in good caring hands, they will not notice or measure your absence. In fact for them too, a change is as good as a holiday.

In closing, one of the greatest benefits from my experience of taking time out together was resurrecting my ability to laugh. We get so overwhelmed with life and tend to take everything so seriously, that we forget that laughing is indeed the best medicine. There is no doubt that when you are having fun and laughing together, you are more likely to connect more deeply.

There is something about being away together in relaxed surroundings that helps one to lighten up, see the positive, find the joy in life and rediscover the good in one’s partner.

It is simply the best way to pay attention to your marriage.

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