6 Ways Parents Can Keep Their Marriages Strong and Happy
Expert advice for parents on how to keep a marriage strong and happy while raising kids.
By: Lorraine Allen
Parenthood will test even the strongest marriage on many levels, both for better and for worse. From the long, sleepless nights and the constant crying of newborns to the defiance, tantrums, and struggles that unfold from preschool through high school, kids often challenge their parents and that, in turn, can strain a marriage. Here to help you stay happily married and strongly united is some simple expert advice not to be missed:
1. Support each other. “Back each other up,” advises Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, psychologist, and author of What About Me? 12 Ways to Get Your Parents' Attention (Without Hitting Your Sister). “When [kids] get a ‘no’ from one parent, kids will often try to wheedle a ‘yes’ from the other parent. Try to be a united front.” This will help keep your relationship with each other stronger and happier.
2. Be accepting. “Accept differences” in your partner, advises Kennedy-Moore. “No two people will ever parent exactly the same way -- and that's OK. In fact, it's beneficial, because we each bring unique strengths and perspectives to the job of parenting.” So try not to correct or direct each other’s parenting methods and value the benefits of your partner’s differences.
3. Plan time together (no kids). “Keeping a strong marriage requires taking care of ourselves as people,” shares expert and author Susan Smith Kuczmarski, EdD, of Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Loyola University in Chicago. She encourages couples to set a regular “date night” once a week, and she cautions, this “is not a time to discuss finances or heavy-duty difficult situations or entertain others.” Date nights should be a time devoted to having fun together and enjoying each other.
4. Treat yourself well. It’s also crucial to make take time for yourself. Kuczmarski says, “Everyone needs space, but parents especially can get overextended.” As a mom to three, she shares that some of her favorite ways to treat herself are to read a book, take a nap, garden, walk the dog, or talk with friends.
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5. Get your Zs: In two different test groups, a University of California Berkeley study published in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science in May 2013 reported a direct link between poor sleep and increased conflict in marriages. The better you sleep, the better you get along. So be sure to rest up no matter how exhausting your kids are!
6. Be intimate often: An empirical study by researchers David G. Blanchflower and Andrew J. Oswald from the University of Warwick in England, which followed 16,000 adult Americans, showed that increased sexual activity strongly correlates to increased happiness levels in married couples. Take the time to snuggle up as often as you can, and your marriage will be happier for it.
How do you try to keep your marriage strong and happy?
Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 5-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.