Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Juggling marriage with children

I've been thinking about my last post and the implications it has for how we conduct our marriages.

I want to say upfront that I don't think this research justifies parents spending a lot of time away, separate from their kids.  I know of parents who never holiday with their children because it is too tiring (I wrote about holidays with kids last year) or parents who always go on weekly dates leaving sad children at home who are unhappy about being left with the babysitter.

It's tricky isn't it?  We're encouraged to strengthen our marriages for the sake of our kid's well-being, but we need to be careful of only doing marriage separate to our children (and at the expense of what is good for them).  It is our relationship that brought these kids into the world.  Our kids shouldn't feel as if they are hindering our marriage.

Watching the way we relate to each other, the way we speak to each other, do housework together, laugh together, argue together (and resolve conflict), holiday together - it all models to our kids what marriage (for good or bad) looks like. I think that's what this article is actually saying - the biggest gift you can give your children is a strong, stable marriage.  A relationship that they can rely on, as life tips them up and down.  But the kids actually need to see that marriage in operation.  If all they see is you disappearing off to do marriage in some other place, what they learn is that our Mum and Dad want to be together, but without us kids.

I have no problem with date nights and time away, but we need to be careful that we don't only enjoy marriage separate to our kids.  They need to see that we can interact happily and enjoy our relationship even with kids around.

However I'm sure there are exceptions to this argument! It is such a situational/personality/type of children/type of marriage issue - we all manage in different ways.

5 comments:

Pip said...

Well said Jenny, getting that balance is hard. I often feel envious of those that have a regular date night away from home, but haven't stopped to consider how this would affect my children, especially while they are young.

Peter Sholl said...

Sarah said...

Our kids say, "Ahh, love birds", any time they see us being affectionate. And as much as I get a little irritated by their mocking, I'm glad that they see it, and know that we love each other.

Jo said...

We have a weekly date night, but have only actually left the house twice in about 6 months. We usually just have dinner later, and watch a DVD. It has been very good for our relationship, and we haven't needed to leave the kids to do it. I can't believe we waited over 10 years to do this.

Jenny said...

I think I wrote a post about this last year Jo - having date nights at home. We really like doing it and our kids are much happier not being left. We haven't had heaps of family around or a supply of babysitters who can cope with 5 small kids on a regular basis, so this has been a nice compromise for us. Plus it is a whole lot cheaper!

Glad you've found it good for your marriage!

simone godde said...

all for date nights in too with awesome asian takeaway in this area we feel totally blessed, I find making a quick dessert can extend time at the table for hours..