Do Your Kids a Favor
By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
Put them second-after your marriage. (They want you to be in
When was the last time you had a conversation with your partner
about the kids? If you can't remember, your relationship could be
tough times, says Shirley P. Glass. In her new book, Not "Just
Protect Your Relationship From Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of
(Free Press), Glass argues that even good relationships have
vulnerabilities, and too much "kid time" can cause stress
talked with Glass about getting your grown-up groove back.
Know what you are up against. A child-centered marriage is one
in which a
couple's energy, time and passion are focused on their children's
the exclusion of their own. The adults don't have an
individuals or as a couple-separate from their parenthood; they're
"Mom" and "Dad." You know you fit the profile if:
You never have a private conversation, one in which a child
You can't remember the last time you went out without your kids.
Most of the
laughs you share with your partner are about the children's antics
interests. Your children see you only as their parents, not as a
woman who regularly show affection for each other.
Protect what you have. Parents often feel guilty leaving their
kids at home,
particularly in families with only one child. But guilt-ridden
should know that one of the best gifts they can give to their
letting them see their father and mother being in love with each
Children have so many friends whose folks are divorced that when
their own parents sharing affection and a private life, that is
comforting. They also learn that the best relationships are
rewarding and satisfying.
Schedule deliberately. Responsible parents have to do what's
nonnegotiable. But you can say no to some of the outside demands on
your time and energy. How many extracurricular activities do your
have to participate in? Don't overschedule them, or yourself. In
marriages, the couple considers also, Is this going to be good or
our relationship? You have to put each other on your calendar.
couplehood won't always get the time it deserves, but it needs to
number-one priority in terms of focus.
Try to leave yourselves time alone at night after you get the
kids to bed.
New parents should get the baby out of the bedroom. Older children
be allowed in when the door is closed (unless the house is on
fire!). Get up
15 minutes early in the morning so you can ask each other over
are you doing? What's going on?" (One husband calls it "coffee with
Trust someone else to care for your kids sometimes and let go. If
mornings are full of sports practices and the afternoons are
errands, make Saturday night your night. Hire a babysitter on a
schedule, and take weekends or an overnight away by yourselves. If
never done this before, your kids may offer some resistance, but
ground. Parents need their getaways.
Love is not enough. If you find yourself captivated by somebody
your spouse, or not wanting to talk about that person at home, it's
put up some walls-before you've slid too far down the slippery
need to take action to honor your commitment to your family and
marriage. Also, couples who are trying to recover from an affair
become overly focused on their children. They want to believe that
love for their children will protect them from future infidelity.
naïve. So be aware of the dangers.
Find yourselves. It's critical for couples to socialize with
so they have an identity as a man and woman relating to other
double dates, try hard not to talk about your children all night.
about what first attracted you and your spouse to each other. If
you used to
like to go hiking or biking or dancing together, go back to that.
eye on how much fun you and your partner are having. Nobody just
for work and expects to be successful, so why should you and your
assume that if you love each other, that's all you need? Above all,
Originally published in Working Mother magazine, March
© Copyright 2003 WMAC. Inc.
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