Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought it was an appropriate time to write my first post about marriage after kids!
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One of the hardest things for me after Aidan was born was making sure that Levon felt like he was still #1 to me. New moms (and not-so-new moms) have a lot on their plates. Babies require constant care and attention, and it’s easy to put your marriage on the back burner.
However, I knew that it was so important to resist the temptation to let Aidan become my sole focus. For the sake of my marriage, and the stability and security a strong marriage brings to the whole family, I knew I needed to be intentional about putting my husband first. Levon was here before Aidan came along, and he will be here long after our kids are out of the house. Maintaining a close connection is an investment for our future.
Plus, it’s in the best long-term interest of our kids. Family researchers agree that strong bonds between parents contribute to happier homes, less stress and discord between family members, and children who are more well-adjusted and less self-centered and entitled.
It’s not always easy, that’s for sure! After working, taking care of our kids, fulfilling our domestic duties, participating in church or community activities, and everything else we have to do, it’s easy to feel as if there’s nothing left to give by the end of the day! But making your marriage a priority is too important to ignore. And it doesn’t always have to involve a lot of time or effort. I’ve made a list of ten things that I have found go a long way in making Levon feel loved and important. A few of them require more work than others, but several of them are really quite simple, and only require a little thought and intention.
Here are 10 Practical Ways to Put Your Husband First:
- Greet him when he comes/you come home.
This is such a simple thing, but it is a big deal to my husband. No one likes to be ignored, especially by the one person that you care about the most. No matter what I’m doing when he comes home, I try to at least look up and greet him when he comes home. If possible, I also give him a hug and kiss. When I’m the last to come home, I make sure to greet him first before Aidan. It’s such little thing, but it really shows that I care and am glad that he’s home.
- Have date nights.
I’ll admit that this is one we haven’t always been good about doing. It’s hard sometimes to find the time and money to go out together regularly. But it’s important to spend some adults-only time without the kids. I’ve made a resolution this year to have a monthly date night with Levon, so I’ll keep you posted as to how that’s going!
- Talk to him.
This is another simple but effective way to show your husband you care. Carve out time during the day to talk to him. Discuss your days, your feelings, and your hopes and plans for the future. Talking regularly is a key way to maintain and strengthen your connection. Without it, you will quickly begin to drift apart and find yourselves leading separate lives.
- Make sex a priority.
This can be a tough one. As I said earlier, after you’ve fulfilled all your other responsibilities for the day, you probably feel spent and drained. However, if I’ve learned anything about men and marriage it’s how vital a healthy sexual relationship is to a vibrant marriage. So do whatever you have to do to make it a priority. If you are too exhausted at night, try getting up earlier in the morning, or making good use of nap time on the weekends! Or, if it works for you financially, have regular adults-only getaways for a night or two. You could also encourage your husband to help more around the house or with the kids, explaining to him that the more rested you are, the more eager you will be for fun activities later. 😉
Here are a few excellent books on the subject that I highly recommend:
- Take interest in him.
Ask him about his day, about his friends, or about what’s been on his mind lately. Take an active interest in him by learning about his hobbies and occupation. Spend a day with him doing what he likes to do. Levon loves it when I go to the shooting range with him or ask him questions about his job. He likes knowing that I’m still interested in learning more about him.
- Have kid-free conversations.
Make sure that not all your conversations revolve around what the kids did or said that day. And have conversations that aren’t peppered with interruptions and interjections like, “Eat your peas!” “Don’t throw your grapes!” or “No, you can’t put Mommy’s necklace on the dog!” Spend time talking after the kids go to bed, when you can give your husband your undivided attention.
- Be physically affectionate.
Levon’s top love language is physical touch, so this one is HUGE for him. A simple touch, hug, or cuddle means so much to him, and it doesn’t require much of a sacrifice on my part. It’s an easy way for me to show him I love him. All it requires is being thoughtful of his needs and following through.Your husband may not enjoy physical affection as much as mine. Spend some time learning about your husband’s love language, and then find a few ways to show your love in that language. If love languages are an unfamiliar concept to you, I highly recommend reading the book The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. You can even take an online test to find out your particular love language at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/.
- Involve him in the childcare.
This is especially important right after a new baby comes, when many dads feel insecure about their new role in the changing family dynamic. In general, men are doers and enjoy feeling needed. So much of pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care is heavily mother-oriented, and I saw firsthand how left out dads can feel. It was me who carried the baby and felt all his movements for nine months, me who labored and delivered him, and me who could nurse him after he was born. So it was nice for Levon when he could give him a bottle once in awhile or rock him to sleep.
Now that Aidan is older, Levon is able to take an even more active part in his care, and they are able to have a lot more quality bonding time together. During their time together, I make a concerted effort not to instruct, comment, or critique. I show Levon I trust him and his parenting abilities when I allow him the freedom to care for and play with Aidan how he sees fit without a comment from the peanut gallery!
- Present a united front in front of the kids.
Levon and I made a commitment long before we had Aidan that we would always present a united front in our parenting. This means no arguing about parenting decisions in the kids’ presence, no contradicting what the other has already said, and no talking negatively about the other to our kids. I try to support whatever call Levon has made, and he supports mine. If we don’t see eye to eye on an issue, we wait to talk about it in private. I also make it a habit to esteem Levon in front of Aidan, and he does the same for me.
- Continue to be his cheerleader.
When people have kids, they attend every concert, videotape every recital, and cheer at every game. It’s natural to want to encourage your kids in their endeavors. Do you put the same enthusiasm into being your husband’s cheerleader? I’m guessing that before you got married you supported his ideas, praised his ingenuity, and cheered him on as he pursued his life goals. Are you still his biggest advocate? After the kids arrive, it’s important to make sure that we continue to cheer on and support our husbands.
*Bonus* Keep your bed kid-free.
I’m calling this a bonus tip because I know it’s not a choice that everyone chooses to make. All I can say is that for my marriage, keeping our bed a special place for us at night is very important. Your husband may not mind, and if not, then by all means, do what works for you if you both agree! For Levon, however, it’s one of the most important ways that I can show that my relationship with him takes precedence over our kids. If your husband has expressed any displeasure over your sleeping arrangements, I would encourage you to seriously reconsider keeping your bed kid-free at night.
None of this is to say that our children are not important to us, of course. Aidan is one of my top priorities in life, coming third only to my relationship with God and my relationship with my husband.
But it is so important that while we raise our children, we also continue to invest in our marriages. Putting our husbands before our kids is not only good for the health of our marriage, but also for the well-being of our kids and the overall joy in our homes.
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