The Best Secrets to a Happy Relationship (Even With Kids)
Relationship data is depressing if you’re a parent.
Studies show that couples without children are in happier relationships.
Downer, right?! (We’ll make it better…)
One study found that 2/3 of couples experience a sharp decline in the quality of their relationship within the first three years of a child’s life.
Uh, bummer for millions of people. So, why is this happening? Well, the possibilities for conflict (and exhaustion) are endless when you are responsible for human life. Obligations multiply. And, often the partner relationship gets put on the back burner.
But we LOVE our children. They fulfill us. They make us better people. And those precious beings aren’t going anywhere. So, where does that leave us with our happy partner relationship?
How can we find the fulfillment our childless peers enjoy?
Let’s check it out.
Habits of Happy Couples
The happiest among us share these effective habits. Make them a priority and watch your connection soar.
1. Make Time
First, children DRASTICALLY cut the amount of quality time between partners.
And, no. Throwing nuggets across the table doesn’t count. When was the last time you were alone with your spouse? No kids. No technology. No scheduling.
The quality of your time = the quality of your relationship. Check out four easy ways to get more.
Start a Daily Check-in Time
Daily check-in time is important for many reasons. Of course, communication for family dealings is important. But, this is also the best time to talk about your day and connect in a way you can’t in front of the kids. Open up, hash things out, or just relax together for a few minutes after a long day.
Schedule Date night
Childless couples no doubt enjoy more satisfaction because they regularly do things together (alone). Unfortunately, this doesn’t magically happen after kids. You have to MAKE it happen.
If money or resources are tight, start with an easy at home date night. But plan for dates out of the house as well. Every couple needs time away from their home environment to be partners, not just parents.
At our house, the goal for the year is one date night out per month. No excuses.
When was your last date?
Plan a Technology Free Night
Technology is a major problem when building amazing relationships. It sucks us into the rabbit hole in a moment’s notice.
So, pick one night of the week and make it screen-free. Put everything away and enjoy games, conversation, or plain old quiet time. Not only will you feel closer to your spouse, but you’ll benefit from unplugging from social media as well.
Add Adult Vacations
Adult getaways are a great way to bring you together in a short time.
My husband and I took our first trip alone in eight years, and it was shocking (and SO good for us) to step into a fun-loving adult role. It certainly strengthened our relationship.
When is your next adult vacation? An overnight stay counts if you’re short on time or money!
2. Have Defined (& Shared) Responsibilities
We each come into parenting with our own ideas of what child-rearing and managing household tasks look like. Talk through these ideas, and decide on a compromise before an argument happens.
But make sure that responsibilities are shared. There are too many exhausted moms today!
If that sounds like you, consider that your marriage would be BETTER if you loosen up on what you do. No one will notice if you don’t fold the kids’ laundry. And even if your husband does something imperfectly, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT.
3. Find What Your Partner Needs
When you’re constantly focusing on your kids, it’s difficult to make your partner feel valued. But it’s worth it to figure out what your partner needs. Often, the way we communicate or give love is not the preferred method of our spouse.
Does your partner need to be touched? Does he like doing shared activities together? Does she feel loved when you compliment her?
4. Have Sex Often
What does “often” mean? Well, it depends on a lot. If you have a baby, often is not often. And that’s ok. It’s different for everyone.
However, it should never feel like you’re roommates. If it does, try scheduling your intimate time. While perhaps unromantic, it is an effective way to get back in the groove (speaking from experience).
5. Be the Friend You Should Be
One of the secrets to a happy relationship is having your partner as your best friend. We all need a great confidant and cheerleader. But, what if you struggle with this?
Support, listen, and cheer! Get that quality time in and LISTEN to how he is doing.
Share a vision with her of the future. We love the 5 Year Plan to open up deep conversations.
Celebrate his accomplishments as your own. You are a team! Make your partner feel good by being wildly enthusiastic about his or her progress.
6. Communication is Key
Your ability to communicate effectively drives every happy relationship in our lives.
Yet for most of us, kids are in numerous activities, work looms large, and the household to-do list is through the roof. It’s difficult to stay connected.
Start with a simple “love you” message to your spouse throughout the day. Then, communicate with your partner in person through your check-in time.
7. Prioritize Your #1 Relation
The state of your relationship massively impacts the well-being of your kids. If you are disconnected or angry, they feel anxious and threatened.
Therefore, the number one relationship in your life MUST be with your partner.
Something to Consider with a Happy Relationship
As a fellow parent, I can guarantee that putting your marriage first will not be easy, or always go smoothly. However, it’s worth the pursuit.
In 5, 10, or 15 years, your kids will leave the house. And you’ll be staring at the partner across from you. What will that scene look like? How will it feel? Will you be in love?
You deserve a joyful relationship for the long haul. Start now. Tell your spouse you love him or her. And start building on that feeling.
Need some Valentine’s Day ideas?