Partners Before ParentsBonar & Irene's family by Ivan
Most parents will tell you that having children is the best thing that ever happened to them. And while they can tell you the ups and downs of child-rearing, you won’t truly understand it until you’ve lived it. There are more ups than there are downs, I can attest to that. But I found the biggest challenge to be the strain child rearing has on a marriage. Having children is like a relationship boot camp – it changes a person so much that you won’t even recognize the person before that baby came along, but when a relationship is strong, sharing a baby will bring you closer together.
While I am not the greatest dad or best husband, after two babies, I have learned a thing or two about how I can contribute to strengthening the relationship with my wife.
1. Generosity is always the way to go. If you’re tired after work but still tend to the baby anyway, that’s generous. If you tell her how beautiful she looks even if she hasn’t got the time to get all dolled up (and mean it!), that’s generous. Be generous with praises, with compliments, with aid.
2. Words of praises go a long way. Enough said.
3. Find reasons to celebrate her. Nothing can bring a woman down faster than being taken for granted. I’ve learned that moms don’t have the easiest job in the world. And so even if she’s happy and chirpy about it, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have bad days or rough weeks. Celebrate her once in a while, outside of her birthday or mother’s day. “Just because” is always a great reason.
4. Date night is essential. Pencil in one night a week to take your wife out. Let her know in advance so she can look forward to it. Arrange for childcare so she doesn’t have to worry. Talk about dreams and plans for the two of you. But be careful not to turn your date into a “family business meeting”. Date night is for making her fall in love with you all over again.
5. Be the bigger person. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. It requires aptitude, grace and a newfound level of maturity every day. Marriage requires you to be a larger person (and I don’t mean this physically, although it is almost always the case), even if it means putting your wife’s happiness above your own.
Change the above she/her into he/him and ladies, you’ll have a real hold of your husbands. Learn to be lovers, even after you take on new roles as mom or dad. Because as easy for it to be forgotten in the midst of the wild ride childcare takes you, you were partners first before you became parents.