Thoughts

Healthy Marriages Begin with Healthy Partners

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According to marriage experts, the first major crisis in many marriages is the birth of their first child. Raising a child can bring parents to the height of joy and the depths of despair. Parenting a child evokes emotional extremes in parents because they love their children and only want the best for them. Parenting is momentous and all-consuming, so to suggest that a child does not come first in a married couple’s life seems counter-intuitive and almost unnatural.

A United Couple Bring Strength to Parenting

A child’s needs are often urgent and immediate, especially when children are young. Parents sacrifice sleep, comfort, and plans to tend to the needs of their children. However, if the marriage is not working, parenting is not working which has a profound impact on children.

Children will reap the benefits of a successful marriage in which both parents focus time on their relationship. Statistics show that children in homes with parents in strong marriages are more successful, mentally stable and have more self-esteem on average than children raised in homes with parents in weak relationships.

Making it Work for You and the Kids

So what happens when children become a source of difficulty in a marriage? It could be a sick child, worries over a child’s path in life, disagreements about ways to discipline a child or many other things that requires extra care borrowed from a couple’s time and energy. Following are some rules of thumb for the most common issues parents face in raising children while keeping the marriage a priority:

  • Daily affirmations (words, hugs, kisses)
  • A weekly date/ arranging to have some alone time
  • An annual get-away (without the children)
  • Determining rules and discipline together

Making a Commitment to a Parenting Partnership

In addition to making the relationship a priority, being united in parenting and co-parenting effectively is also important. Both parents being committed to being just as focused on each other as they are on being parents will also keep the marriage out of crisis. Here are some ways to co-parent effectively:

  • Frequent Discussions: Open communication is vital to success. Discussing schooling, house rules, discipline techniques and other parenting issues.
  • Work Together: Teamwork is crucial. Make sure each parent has equal parenting duties and input. Work together to make parenting goals happen. This will have a positive impact on your child and it can strengthen the relationship with your partner.
  • Support Each Other: Show a united front, if you have a disagreement about a decision, talk about it privately.
  • Always Re-Evaluate: An effective marriage or co-parenting relationship arrangement requires constant re-evaluation. Experiences will change your opinions, perceptions and viewpoints. Your goals and ways of discipline will change over time. Re-evaluating opens the avenues of communication that much more.

Bottom line is that staying married and reasonably happily married after children turn your lives upside down is not easy. It is important to let go every so often, and at other times, recognizing that a little hand holding can go a long way for now.

By Cynthia Theirs, parenting mediator for Alpha Center and a court evaluator in Bucks County PA at the Lenape Valley Foundation

©2016 Alpha Resource Center, LLC

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