Finding balance in your in your marriage, let alone your life, can be extremely challenging, trust me, I know. Plus, let’s face it, as parents of multiples we know our divorce rate is higher than that of a family with singletons. The added stress of multiples can be too much sometimes, that’s why it’s even more important to find balance.
This was a concept I struggled with after our kids were born. Those first few months were a total blur and we made a pact that we would not take anything to heart during that time. We were both at our breaking point, sleep was limited and Scott had a 90 minute commute (one way) to work 5 days a week. It was enough to make you crazy, and maybe it did a little, I’m not going to lie. When the kids were a year old Scott lost his job and there we were, with nothing. It was awful and seriously I had a lot of rage, anger, resentment, you name it, it was there. Suddenly our marriage was not a priority, it was just there in that big gray area. After he went back to work and we got our life back on track we had to find our way back to each other and once again make us a priority. Scott and I went to counseling and have now found a great balance in our lives and most importantly our marriage. We started taking some of the best advice we’ve ever been given, we started dating again. I know that sounds totally cheesy, but it’s true, you need to date each other like you did before you were married. It’s working for us and has made everything in life so much easier. We have balance and it makes for a happier home.
When I was looking for experts to interview about this topic I got an email from a man named Rob. His last name immediately sounded familiar and it should have been, his wife Kim is in my local twins club. I remember one of the first meetings I went to, Kim was the “big sisters” chair and she was very honest about making marriages work. Before I even read Rob’s email I knew she was perfect to talk to, and I hope you agree. Here are Kim’s tips:
You have to remember that you were a family before your children were even born. In the hierarchy of importance marriage comes before kids. One time Sarah asked Rob “Do you love me as much as you love Mommy?” Rob responded “No, I love your Mommy more!” At first, I thought geez. that was kind of harsh, but the reality is, that is the way it should be. If you put your marriage on the back burner when the kids arrive it will become stale, dried up and eventually will die. If you truly love your children you will love their other parent WELL! You will cherish that relationship first and foremost knowing that the best you can offer your kids is a stable home life with both mom and dad present modeling for them love, forgiveness and commitment. That said, it’s much easier said than done. Cherishing your marriage will not happen by accident. You have to be completely deliberate and intentional especially if you are a parent of multiples. There will always be someone who needs you, other things to spend the money on, and a temptation to give every ounce of your energy to the kids and leave the crumbs for your spouse. Some people are sure to disagree with me but after fifteen years of marriage, a long battle with infertility, carrying a 14 lb. pregnancy and surviving five years of raising twins these would be my top ten tips for being deliberate in putting your marriage first:
*Learn to say “Please forgive me” and be willing to say it often.
*Allow the house to be messy. If you don’t you will spend all of your time and I mean ALL of your time trying to maintain it and you will have little energy left for anything else.
*Exercise each day. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood with the kids in a stroller. You will feel better afterwards and have more energy.
*Shower every day. Even if you have the kids in a pack n play in the bathroom crying the whole time. Showers make you feel human again especially after being up all night with babies.
*Keep your bedroom for just you and your spouse. Just say no to the FAMILY BED concept. Love Dr. Sears but kids need to sleep in their own beds. Do not allow your bedroom to become the dumping ground for all the stuff you have been meaning to organize and go through. Do not pile up weeks worth of laundry in your bedroom. Try very hard to keep your bedroom as a sanctuary for just you and your spouse. We have a rule that no kids are allowed in our bedroom unless they ask first to come in. This is our private space not a common family area. You will sleep better and feel more relaxed if you have at least one space that is just your own and not invaded by toys, clutter and messes.
*Don’t waste your energy arguing about who has the harder job. Husbands do work very hard at their jobs but nothing compares to the stress of staying home with multiple babies all day. He will never fully understand the amount of physical, and emotional stress staying home with small children is. He just won’t so quite arguing about how much harder your job is than his.
*Even if you can only afford to buy yourself one new piece of clothing a month Do it! Do not walk around six month after you’re done breastfeeding wearing nursing bras. Sexy is a state of mind!
*You will feel like having sex again eventually, but you have to be more deliberate about planning time for it. It’s just life that the spontaneity of sex dwindles with having multiples. Don’t live in the past and think about how great sex used to be. Work with what you have now. Talk about when you have the most energy and time and make a “date” for sex. Put it on the calendar if you have to. Sex is only about 10% of your marriage but if you’re not having any it becomes 90% of the problem.
*Go on date nights at least once a month. Find a friend in your local multiples club and trade off once a month. My friend Renee and I did this for a whole year. I would go to her house just after she puts the twins to bed (7pm) and she and her husband would go out until 10pm. The next week she would come to my house and it would be my turn. It worked out great because not only did we get free babysitting but we had the peace of mind that our babysitter was another mom of multiples so we knew they could handle anything!
*Communication is the cornerstone of a good marriage. I call Rob every day and ask one question: “Is there anything I could do to bless you today?” and then I always say one thing I appreciate about him. He follows suit and repeats it for me, usually by email or text. Something as simple as that can do wonders for a busy marriage.
After I read Kim’s tips I couldn’t say anything else but “amen!”. Those 10 tips are some of the best advice you will get on this topic. Thank you again to Kim for writing this and thank you to Rob for suggesting Kim!
Do you follow any of these tips? Are there some that you would like to see added to the list that work for you? How do you find balance in your marriage?