Here’s what’s next on my must-read list: To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First by David Code. The title alone sells me on the book, as this is a philosophy I firmly believe in.
Code was interviewed in the July issue of Today’s Parent magazine, and asserted that he thinks parents today pay too much attention to our kids (really!) and that some try to ‘escape’ their marriage by focusing solely on the children instead. So true!
One area where I feel my husband and I are quite diligent is making time for “us”. We think it’s important to, as Code puts it, “feed and water that relationship on a regular basis”. Who can argue with the fact that a stable marriage has a positive effect on the children? And it certainly doesn’t always come easy; it takes a concerted effort to work on it.

I’ve met moms before who brag that they’ve never left their children (who may be a few years old!) with anyone else. I think they are expecting glory and praise, but I have to stifle my first reaction, which is always “I’m so sorry to hear that!”

I’m sure Frannie was only a few weeks old when we enjoyed our first quick dinner out, and only four months old when a teenager kept her so we could clean out my husband’s new classroom for a couple of hours. (Not exactly romantic, but time together nonetheless!) We’re fortunate that we can afford babysitters, and we go out at least once or twice a month without the kids. Sometimes it’s some sort of social obligation, like a wedding or work party, but more often it’s a date-standard like a movie. Either way, it’s some time away from our responsibilities. While the girls were infants it was more difficult, especially when breastfeeding a lot and sleeping a little, but we managed to get through on the ‘banked’ time we had previously invested.

We only go away overnight a couple of times a year, but that’s more than many parents, and of course only happens because we’re lucky enough to have Grandma and Grandpa who are able to keep the girls. Next on our list is to take an actual week away for the first time since our honeymoon (I’d like someplace touristy, but my husband’s insisting on rest and relaxation somewhere south) but that’s just not in the budget this year.

Code stresses though that it’s the little things that are the most important: everyone can’t do the whirlwind trips to Paris, and it’s the small, regular habits that make the biggest difference, like sitting on the deck and enjoying a glass of wine after the kids have gone to bed, or even while they watch a video or just play quietly in their rooms. Kids learn independence and problem-solving when they have to entertain themselves.

We often take advantage of afternoon nap time, and get a sitter or just enjoy a movie rental while the girls sleep. (Well, Maggie sleeps, and Frannie plays in her room.) That way we’re not losing out on valuable family-time, because the alternative would be doing chores or schoolwork while the girls have their downtime…tasks which sometimes need to be firmly placed on the backburner. (This is very hard for me! If I haven’t crossed five things off my list, I don’t consider naptime productive. Maybe I need to write down couple-time, so I have the satisfaction of crossing it off!)

A goal that my husband I need to strive for is to talk less about work during our time together, which will be easier over the summer holidays, but is a challenge during the year. We are both in education, so when we’re not talking about our own children, we’re sharing stories about our staffs and students and catching up on each other’s work lives.

Now, let’s be clear: we love our kids, are thrilled to be parents, and enjoy spending time with our beautiful daughters. But not every waking minute of every single day. I truly believe it’s healthier for our kids when we have some time together, and for that reason I’ll be reading “To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First” this summer.

Then there’s alone time for mommy…a whole other topic, and fodder for a future post here at This Mom Loves!

How do you and your partner make time to be together? Do you get enough? Do you even see it as a priority when your children are young, or do you disagree with me (and the author) completely? Share your thoughts!

5 comments on “To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First”

  1. Great post! I saw the article in Today's Parent as I'm subscribed to it. The article had great tips. I don't think I'll have time to read the book but we do try a bit and I know we should try harder. We're guilty of being in completely different rooms for hours after the kids go to bed and then we go to bed at different times too.

  2. This is my favourite post yet. I really feel that it is something that takes practice and can often be overlooked, and I have even seen a marriage fall apart because of this very issue (not mine!). I will be reading this book as well. Now that we know what your thoughts are 'Before' reading, perhaps you can also give us your 'After' insights as well?

  3. Oh yes, it is definitely a priority. Time away together, away from the children makes us better parents. We come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of being parents/ Good luck on getting that week in! We left the girls for 6 nights a few months ago…the longest to date. I missed them terribly, but they had fun at grandma and grandpa's house and we had a blast in Cabo!

  4. Time away from your children is good for both. For us it hasn't always been easy to come by with both families living so far away, but as of September that will all change and I am sure Joe and I will take more date nights while Grandma and Nonno babysit.

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