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How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship When You Have Kids

September 4, 2013

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Having kids can be one of the most rewarding and challenging things a couple can experience together. Children truly have a way of bringing joy and purpose to your life in a way that few other things can.

But regardless of how much love and understanding you and your partner had prior to welcoming your little one(s) into the world, everything changes once those kiddos are in your life.

Kids require constant care, attention, and entertainment. Despite their adorable and playful nature, they can also be demanding and overwhelm your ability to maintain balance in all areas of your life - especially when it comes to connecting with your partner outside the realm of parenting.

Simply making a bit of effort to ensure that your relationship remains healthy and vibrant will not only prevent unnecessary miscommunication and negativity in your partnership, but it will show your children what a positive and loving family dynamic looks like. They are sponges for human behavior, after all!

Here are 5 ways to help you maintain a healthy relationship:

1. Appreciate the sacrifices your partner makes for your family. Even if there’s a part of you that feels that you make more sacrifices, let them know that you appreciate each time they do something special to make you or your children happy. Being recognized for their efforts will make them more sensitive and appreciative of you when you do the same, and will strengthen your mutual love and respect for each other.

2. Make time to get away. Getting away from the responsibilities of home is very important to reconnecting with who you are as people - not parents, chore-doers, or stressed out and sleep-deprived multitaskers, but the amazing people you both are. Seeing each other in a new environment will level the playing field and remind you why you fell in love in the first place. Schedule a weekly date night, go on vacation without the kids, take a fun class together, or simply take a couple’s walk after dinner whenever you can.

3. Maintain intimacy. Many couples forego sex for long stretches of time when the responsibilities of the day leave them too tired to get intimate at night. But sex can go a long way in keeping the spark alive, not to mention reducing stress, boosting immunity, and enhancing self-esteem. If time is an issue, then choose at least one night a week to schedule this priority. Try something a little different each time to add some mystery to your encounters of passion. You’ll feel much closer to each other during trying times as a result.

4. Avoid competition. If there’s any element of competition in your partnership when it comes to the home or parenting, have a talk to put an end to it. Do you count every time you do the dishes versus your partner? Do you feel jealous if your children prefer to have certain experiences with your partner instead of you? Do you have 7am negotiations in bed for who’s going to get up with the kids on a Saturday morning? It’s OK, stop counting. Both you and your partner have special skills and bring something different - and equally of value - to the table. Competition will only make you resent each other, but having a frank discussion about creating balance can facilitate a lasting understanding about each of your vital roles.

5. Take care of yourself. Making time to do things like get adequate sleep, eat wholesome foods, exercise, visit friends, and have alone time can be tough for busy parents, especially ones who also have demands at work. But doing these things can also make life easier because they lower your feeling of stress and make you more flexible, understanding, and at ease in whatever life brings. These qualities will make you feel more fulfilled and balanced, which will enhance your relationships with everyone around you.

What’s your favorite tip for having a healthy relationship with your partner?