Marriage is a journey with its highs and lows. For it to be a fulfilling experience, couples need to continually invest time and effort to make it work amidst their busy work schedules and child care responsibilities. After all, a strong marriage is the foundation of a robust family.
Many studies have shown that the key to a happy family lies in the strength of the marriage. Cold interactions and frequent arguments between parents can lead children to feel insecure and stressed, and this may result in them developing behavioural and academic problems.1 According to Dr Vicknesan Marimuttu, a consultant from the psychological medicine department at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, children are better able to handle the pressures of life when they feel secure at home and are confident of their parents’ unconditional love.2
In this article, Family Life Educator, Ms Chang Mun Lan, will share some advice on how couples can rekindle the spark and revitalise their marriage after having children for a more fulfilling family life.
PRIORITISE YOUR SPOUSE
Change is inevitable as one takes on the role of a parent. Yet, it is crucial that you continue to put your spouse first and not let your marriage take the backseat.
“For some couples, as they focus on the children, they pay less attention to the details of their spouse’s life. They have very little sense of the other’s joys, likes, dislikes, fears and stresses,” says Ms Chang. “They become emotionally disconnected with each other in this process.”
Deciding to commit to maintaining and improving the relationship is an important first step to bring back the flame that might have faded.
SCHEDULE TIME TO SPEND TOGETHER
According to a 2012 report done by the University of Virginia on the impact of couple time on couple relationships, spouses who have date nights at least once a week are found to be three times happier in marriage than those who have fewer date nights.3 Having intentional couple time allows for opportunity to reconnect with each other, de-stress, and create novelty within the relationship. It becomes something that both partners can look forward to, away from the children and other distractions.
“For those who are worried, guilty or unsure of leaving their kids behind, they can seek the help of someone whom they can trust to watch over the kids while they have their date,” says Ms Chang.
It is also worth noting that a date doesn’t need to be elaborate; it could be as simple as engaging in light-hearted conversations whilst taking a stroll at the park downstairs. The ultimate goal is for couples to set aside uninterrupted time to connect with each other.
GROW AS AN INDIVIDUAL
While having couple time is important, it is also beneficial to occasionally have time to yourself. By giving each other space to pursue personal interests and goals, each partner can maintain their individual identity and grow as a person. This helps to invigorate the relationship and prevent it from going stagnant.4
“However, both of you should be clear on how much personal time each partner needs and not use it to replace couple time,” advises Ms Chang. Checking in with each other regularly and being mindful of each other will help both of you grow and flourish together.
DO THE LITTLE THINGS
Last but not least – do regular acts of service, be more generous with your affections and find moments to verbally express your appreciation to your spouse.
One of the most effective ways to do that is to embrace each other in a hug three times a day – in the morning, as you leave for work, when you reach home and before you go to sleep. Hugging is an intimate gesture that increases levels of oxytocin, which is the ‘happy chemical’ that helps maintain healthy relationships.5
Another act of service that reaps great returns is helping out with household chores, says Ms Chang. Based on a Pew Research Centre survey, sharing household chores was among the top five most important factors that make marriage work. In addition, a study from Stanford University found that women are 69 percent more likely to ask for a divorce due to frustration from men failing to do household work and childcare-related tasks.6
Even as you juggle parental, work and domestic responsibilities, doing these small actions show that you still value your spouse and your marriage. With intentional and consistent effort, you might even create a spark that burns brighter than it ever did before.
Want to know more about parenting or any family-related support? Contact TOUCH Integrated Family Group at 6709 8400 or click here to find out more.
TOUCH Integrated Family Group (TIFG) is TOUCH’s newest service group, set up in January 2020. TIFG focuses on Family Resources to help families cope with different stressors along their life course, transition of roles in Family Transitions, Relationships & Growth, and building Family Resilience.
With TOUCH’s multi-service experience in meeting the needs of disadvantaged children, youth-at-risk and vulnerable families since 1992, TIFG aims to equip families with resources and enable them to build resilience. This is done through an integrated suite of services to support the family as a unit, with emphasis on education, intervention and advocacy.
1Cowan, C. P., & Cowan, P. A. (2000). When partners become parents the big life change for couples. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.
2The Straits Times, 28 March 2017, How not to handle stress in kids
3Wilcox, W. B., & Dew, J. (n.d.). The Date Night Opportunity: What Does Couple Time Tell Us About the Potential Value of Date Nights? The National Marriage Project.
4Pascale, R. (2017, February 17). Time Together and Time Apart. Retrieved fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/so-happy-together/201702/time-together-and-time-apart
5Lurve. (2020, February 18). A marriage expert on how a daily hug can totally change your relationship. Retrieved from https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/relationships/dating-advice/a-marriage-expert-on-the-10second-act-she-prescribes-all-couples-to-do-daily/news-story/0ad4fbb45a06c3e50b110e06fa463ae2
6Pearce, D. P. D. (2019, May 23). Studies: Divorce, Household Chores Share Messy Relationship. Retrieved from https://mensdivorce.com/studies-divorce-household-chores/