Conquering the divided front

I was shopping a few weeks back when a commotion took my attention from what I was doing and towards the sound. A mother was struggling with her tantrumming child. It was hard to decipher who was having the bigger tantrum between the two. No judgment from me – I have all too often known what it’s like to console a cranky child when they are inconsolable. But then she ordered her husband to take the child, then what he needed to do with the child. And her tone was less than that of a wife and more like that of a mother to her husband.

Marriage is a union of two equal partners.

From the scene I witnessed, I saw two faults being committed. One was a husband who had tuned out the unfolding scene of his wife and son who were going downhill fast in a chaotic battle. And the other was a wife who had forgotten how to ask for help from the person that she loves the most.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon practice. When kids enter the marriage, the whole dynamics of that marriage partnership change. Suddenly there are these little beings that tie up all of our time and attention, and it is too easy to forget about the routine that was in place before kids came into the picture. Remember when your spouse was the biggest person in your life? Remember when you would do anything for them, and make any kind of time from them?

Remember when you heard them? I mean, really heard them?

The romance in marriage doesn’t have to end when kids come into the picture. In fact, that’s when it is needed the most. Kind words, spontaneous gestures of love, a stolen kiss now and then, a phone call just to let them know you are thinking of them… All these things and more are necessary to ensure that the love that brought the two of you together is still there even when you are too tired to even form a complete sentence. And most important of all is thinking of your spouse so highly that you wouldn’t dare to disparage him in front of public eyes or completely overlook her need for some assistance.

I think it was described accurately in the book, Make Love Whenever Possible When Married with Children, by Leslie Kaplan and Peg Melnik:

“I made a mistake early on in our marriage when I decided that since my husband is a big person, he could fend for himself. I made my daughter my first priority and focused on her needs.
“Now I see that this thinking is flawed. It’s not a question of priorities. It’s a question of energy. A paradigm shift in parenting comes when a person realizes that families run on energy, not priorities. If you put all your energy into your children, you won’t have the energy reserves for your spouse, no matter how deeply you care for him/her.
“So if you have a policy of “Children First” at your house, you should rethink it. When parents are too devoted to their kids, a space can grow between couples, and if unattended, it can become a chasm.”

So reclaim that love that you had with your spouse before the kids came barreling into your lives. Raise them together as a united front. Ensure that your marriage is the foundation that holds your family together. Make it a point to really see your wife. Ensure that you speak to your husband with care as the man that you created these children with. And know that life will be easier to handle when the harder battles come along from testing children, that your children will have a positive example to model their own future relationships by, and that your mate will still be your best friend long after the kids are grown and creating families of their own.

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