A reader asked what I would suggest as ways to prioritize your spouse, and I decided to put all that information in a post because my reply is too big for a comment box! haha. So here’s my reply to my previous post: “Prioritizing My Spouse.”
The idea of growing apart happens gradually over time. When you think about it, there will always be sudden situations that come up where you do need to be there for your kids over your spouse, but I think the problem starts when this is happening frequently. Below are a few little and big ways you can prevent this from happening.
Celebrate your spouse. Be proud of them in the big victories and the little victories! Take the time to express appreciation each day! Anyone has time between diaper changes to send a text message that takes 10 seconds to type. Compliments and appreciation can be huge, and it can show your spouse that you are willing to pause whatever else you were doing to tell them that.
Make your spouse your first topic of conversation when they come home from work. Show you care about how their day went before jumping into talking about what you did throughout the day, or the bad things that happened. I know that my husband has had to tell me that it’s stressful when he walks in and I immediately tell him a bunch of things that happened, especially if they are stressful things that he has to deal with now. I also think that by putting your spouse first, and even letting them vent first (if that’s needed), can help them listen better when it’s your turn to share your day :)
Find a healthy praise ratio of child and spouse. I had a friend who posted so many pictures of her and her daughter on Instagram with almost no pictures of her husband, that it actually made me wonder if they were even together, still! That’s sad. Children go through so many little milestones that make us happy and want to brag about! But maybe our spouse deserves to be praised for eating all their vegetables, too! haha. But seriously, some spouses can feel neglected, especially with the first baby, so we need to continually appreciate and even brag about them, too!
Establish a consistent time to spend together. I had a teacher I really looked up to in high school who told us that him and his wife go out on a date every Thursday night. They were able to keep up this consistent schedule with the help of the older kids being able to watch the younger ones, but they basically said to all of their children: “hey, having this time on our own is important to our relationship, so be on your best behavior while we’re gone, please.” I love this example because this weekly commitment was not only something to look forward to, but they saw it as an investment in their relationship AND in their family.
Minimize how many commitments your children have. There’s only so much chauffeuring a parent can do in one day or week, and by the time a parent gets home to do all the other things like make dinner, clean up the kitchen, etc. they may be too tired to do much with their spouse. Outside of school activities are so great for kids to be involved in, but there has to be a good balance between home life and these activities or else you’ll all go insane :)
Being willing to sacrifice your own free time to be there for your spouse. Again, I don’t have kids yet, but I know the exciting feeling of having that coveted free time to work on a project. But when a spouse is needing you more than normal and you can’t take the time away from other areas, it says a lot when you are willing to give up your personal time.
All of these ideas just come down to making time for each other on a daily, short-term basis as well as in the long-term. I’m a huge advocate of date nights because it’s the perfect way to get away from the stresses of life and just have fun! So of all these ideas, my favorite is establishing a consistent time to be alone together.
When you think about the strategies in sports, every team uses their time-outs. Teams have to regroup every so often to talk about what’s going on in the game, re-strategize and take a breather. Having a date night or daily time at night together is like utilizing your time-outs. The best part: as a couple, YOU get to decide how many time-outs you make (infinite number here!), and YOU decide when you want to take them :)
What are some other ways that YOU prioritize your spouse?