As a social worker, Julia Pryce thought she would be immune to the stresses that a new baby brings to a relationship. “I’ve read all the books and know what we need to do to prevent problems from occurring in our relationship,” explains the Chicago-based mother of a one year-old. “But after Clara was born, the sheer amount of work we need to do at home, combined with all the attention Clara needs and the strain of us both working full-time, have really taken a toll.”
It’s not uncommon for your relationship to get placed on the back burner after kids enter the picture, acknowledges Carol Lindquist, Ph.D, author of “Happily Married with Kids”. “The dynamic in a marriage changes drastically because your priorities shift from yourself and your spouse to your child,” she says. That’s especially true in our age of helicopter parenting, where parents worry that not enrolling Junior in every available art or tumbling class will mean a rejection from Harvard. “But the best gift you can give your children is to have a happy marriage,” says Lindquist.
Here are her tips for getting back on track — and staying there.
1. Sweat the Small Stuff
Grand romantic gestures, like whisking your loved one away for the weekend or nabbing a table for two at the latest hot spot, were great in your dating days but not as feasible post-kids. Luckily, it’s the little things that make a big difference in a marriage, says Lindquist. Taking the time to brew your wife’s coffee in the morning makes your spouse feel loved and appreciated.
Not sure what to do? “Create a ‘care list,’ outlining what your spouse already does that makes you feel cared for,” she says. You might find tasks (like keeping the cars in good condition and paying the bills on time) are the new forms of flirtation. If you’re coming up short on these free tasks, create a list of all the house chores and ask to re-assign them. The goal is to appreciate the small ways you both take care of your family. (Read More)
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