How to Prioritize Partnering Over Parenting

In the last post, we talked about how parenting can take its toll on partnering. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to check it out.

To quickly summarize…without proper care and attention, children can turn you from playmates to roommates. You can wind up focusing so much on being good parents you forget how to be good partners. This is how marital drift often starts.

But the good news is you can turn this around. Although the sooner the better, it’s never too late to prioritize your partnering over your parenting.

PRIORITIZING YOUR PARTNERING OVER YOUR PARENTING

There are many ways you can start to reclaim your partnering. Here are just a few:

Maintain a Regular Date Night.

I’m talking about a planned, scheduled, just-the-two-of-you date night. If you have to stop and think about when you last did that…it’s been too long! Budget for, and reserve, a regular sitter…even if you have to cut back somewhere financially to make this happen. It’s that important.

Carve Out Time to Be Together Each Day.

I know this is hard, but be creative. You may need to put the kids to bed a little earlier. I’m surprised by how many parents sacrifice time together just because they don’t want to go through the hassle of putting their kids to bed a little earlier.

There are other things you can do. Maybe you need to withhold the kid’s favorite videos so you can use them for those times when you want to spend some time together. My wife and I would take our kids to the park or the indoor playground at McDonald’s where they could play while we sat and talked. (Bring a friend for them to play with.)

Use your imagination, but do whatever you have to to get some daily time together.

Repeatedly Show Your Kids That Your Spouse Comes First.

When my kids were little and I would come home from work, the first thing I would do when I came through the door was to pull my wife close, give her a kiss, and hold her while we spent a few moments talking. When this happened, my children would try to worm their way between us, vying for our attention. But, like a mean father, I would make them wait their turn. (They hated it.)

This didn’t change when they were teens. They just changed their tactics. They didn’t try to worm their way between us anymore. Instead, it was, “Dad, can I have $20? Mom, would you drive me to my friend’s house? Dad, can I have the keys to the car?“ Again, I would make them wait their turn. This finally aggravated them so much they blurted out, “Why do you do this to us?!”  I told them, “Your mom was here before you were here, and she will be here long after you’re gone. You’re short-timers here and you’re not even paying rent! So you can wait your turn.” (Needless to say, this didn’t go over very well.)

There are other ways you can impress upon your children (and your spouse) that your spouse comes first. Opening the door for your wife. Giving your spouse first choice. Sitting close together and occasionally making the kids find somewhere else to sit. Always defending your spouse in front of the kids. Again, be creative, but show your kids that your spouse comes first.

Lock Your Bedroom Door.

You cannot say you’re prioritizing your partnering if you’re not prioritizing your sex life.  And one of the ways you do that is by locking your bedroom door. If you’re one of those people who feel it’s cruel to lock your children out of your bedroom, think about this…

I read a story about some parents who, after checking to ensure their child was asleep, decided it was safe to have sex. But just when things were at a climax (pun intended) they looked over to the side of the bed to find their child jumping up and down saying, “Can I ride too?!” The story ends with this couple promptly installing locks on their bedroom door.

Locks are necessary when you have small children who forget and who occasionally get scared at night. If you’re afraid they might get sick and you won’t hear them, then install a monitor. Just make sure it only works one way!

If your children are teens, locks are still a good idea. But the biggest deterrent is to tell them, “If our door is closed, you don’t want to go in there, because you might see something you can’t unsee.” (Wink, wink.) That will scare them off!

These are just a few of the ways to get your partnering back in front of your parenting. I’m sure you have others, and I would love it if you would leave comments and suggestions to help the rest of us out!

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is…yes, you should love your children and yes, you should sacrifice for your children. But you shouldn’t allow your parenting to take priority over your partnering.

And the biggest reason why is that one day, your children will consciously or unconsciously pattern their marriage after yours. So set a good example of putting partnering ahead of parenting.

Marital Drift and How to Stop It.

Have you ever had the experience of looking at your spouse in thinking, “We use to be so close. How did we drift apart? What happened?” If you have, you are not alone. I think that thought crosses the mind of nearly every spouse at one time or another.

Marriage can be like a boat without an anchor. It has a tendency to drift. In the beginning, when you’re close to shore, it doesn’t seem like a problem. But the further you get from shore the more prominent and problematic the drift can be. You start to experience things like:

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The Silent Killers of Marriage

“Acting for the first time in 14 years, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90. The change means that 46 percent of US adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive.” (bostonglobe.com)

High blood pressure is considered the “silent killer,” because when you have high blood pressure, there are typically no obvious signs. Many people who have high blood pressure feel just fine.  But the undetected increase in blood pressure puts them at increased risk of heart disease, disability, and death.

What does this have to do with marriage…beside the fact that I’m going to have to change my diet and exercise? Just like high blood pressure can be a silent killer physically, there are some things that can be silent killers to your marriage relationally. Here are a just few…

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Is Your Marriage Boring or Confidently Comfortable?

My wife and I recently returned home from a five day trip to Washington D.C. Actually, if you include a day to drive there and a day to drive back, it was more like a three day trip to D.C.

After three days of walking over 13 miles to see the iconic sites, and two days of traffic laden driving, we were glad to be home. After unpacking, my wife sat in her chair and I sat in mine, enjoying a very boring evening of quietly surfing social media.

If you read stuff on marriage (including my stuff), you can easily walk away thinking that a good marriage is one where you and your spouse are regularly:

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The Changing Seasons

We’re in the middle of some crazy weather patterns. It’s in the lower 80’s one day, and then the lower 30’s the next. It’s like going through all the seasons in the span of a week or two.

Marriages go through seasons, and each season requires something different from spouses. To have a long and happy marriage, you must learn to navigate seven seasons…

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Is Your Marriage Approaching Zero Gravity? – Part 1

When I hear the word “gravity,” I think of different things. I think of an apple falling on Newton’s head. I think of the John Mayer song, “Gravity.” I think of giant pieces of space junk falling from the sky and wiping out my house…and my homeowners insurance refusing to cover it.

But I don’t usually think of marriage when I hear the word, “gravity.” What does gravity have to do with marriage any way…aside from the fact it bears down on all of us, causing us to shrink and sag?

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How to Move From a Marriage That’s Stuck to a Marriage That Sticks

Ok, confession time. When I was a teenager, I got stuck parking. I’m not talking about parking your car in a parking spot at Walmart. I’m talking about getting stuck on some deserted back road because I wanted to “spend some time” with a girl.

I will avoid the details to spare myself the painful self-disclosure, but I remember that feeling of being stuck. My first thought was, “This is no big deal. I’ll just get out and rock the car a little.” When that didn’t work, I thought, “Ok. I just need a little traction.” So I put rocks, limbs, and anything I could find under the rear wheels to give me some traction. Then I got behind the car to push, telling my girlfriend to give it some gas. Those of you who are smarter than me can guess what happened next. I was bathed in a hail of mud, rocks, and sticks…but the car remained stuck.

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How to Put Your Kids and Your Marriage in Their Proper Place

When I stepped into the waiting room, I noticed that Bryan and Christine (not their real names) were sitting in separate chairs and weren’t talking. As they took separate seats in my office, I asked them why they had come to counseling. The question was met with sighs and silence. After some awkward attempts to get Bryan to go first, Christine finally said, “We’re really struggling in our marriage. ” From there, the story began to roll out.

They were once good friends and playful lovers who talked, laughed, and spent time together. But now they were more like room mates who only talked when they needed to. Christine was focused on their 3 active kids and the mounds of laundry and homework that came with them. Bryan was focused on the increasing demands of providing for their family, and the occasional game of golf. Their time together was spent discussing kids, schedules, or money. This seemed to be the only thing holding them together.

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The Gift of Attention

Attention is like air to our emotional lungs. Without attention, babies fail to thrive. Without attention, children struggle emotionally and scholastically. Without attention, isolated people become loners and sometimes threats to society. Without attention, marriages flame out like cooling fireworks falling to earth. Without attention, the light in a senior’s eyes quickly dims.

Every soul needs attention, but attention is the one thing that we cannot get for ourselves. (Yes, yelling “fire” in a crowded theater will get you attention, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.) Attention – the kind brings life to our soul – cannot be taken. It must be given as a gift.

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Playing With Blocks

Depositphotos_6455618_xsWhen’s the last time you played with blocks? I’m talking about the old fashion, basic shapes, pre-Lego, low tech, wooden blocks.

I was at my granddaughter’s house the other day, and she grabbed me by the hand and took me back to her room. There, among all the toys, was a big bucket of wooden blocks just waiting for us.

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