For many childless couples, the thought of getting pregnant can create a great deal of anxiety. However, anticipating change in a marriage before the baby arrives, helps the couple plan and better cope with fluctuations in marital intimacy, which often follow delivery. Expecting frustration due to a crying baby as well as sleepless nights with less sex, can cause a couple to band together and face the challenges as a team rather than fight over the difficulties of raising a newborn.
Married couples who are struggling to find quiet time away from the kids are not without hope. Marci recommended several practical ways couples can carve out time with each other while maintaining a quality relationship with their children. “Date night” once a week can provide the ideal opportunity for a couple to show their affection toward each other and can come in many forms including a fancy dinner, dancing, shopping or a more economical walk through the neighborhood or drive to an unfamiliar place close to home. To help further cut down on the costs of having a regular date night, couples can swap babysitting duties with other couples (i.e., watch another couple’s children one week and the next week have that couple watch your children). If money is not an option, then there are a plethora of professional nanny and babysitting services from which parents can choose. Some of those resources are listed on the right site of this blog under both the “New Links” and “Relationship Tools” sections.
If apprehensive about using a babysitter they are unfamiliar with, married and single parents can after checking a potential sitter’s references and background, test him or her out for a few hours while they run errands or go to a movie. If the children are old enough and do not report any misbehavior on the part of the sitter, then the couple should feel comfortable enough to hire him or her a second time. There’s also the option of skipping a babysitter altogether and sending the kids, if they are old enough, to a camp with trusted adults or school or church sponsored retreat. If the children are young and the parents and prone to separation anxiety, it’s extremely important for both parents to be firm, according to Marci, to avoid long explanations or reasoning with the children. Doing so will only prolong an anxiety-filled child’s tantrums.
Once the children are comfortable with their parents being gone for a night to a few days, then the married couple should feel confident enough to take a week or two vacation. However, married couples and even single parents should not neglect to plan vacations or date nights with the kids. A “family fun box” or a shoebox or even a Ziploc bag that is filled with slips of paper containing handwritten suggestions for free or low-cost activities contributed by each family member, can be a great way to get parents and kids involved and spend time together while emphasizing the importance of the spousal and parent/child relationships. For more ideas in creating balance between married partners and their kids, watch the clip from the latest episode of Relationships360, which is available on this page or click here.