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You can’t wait 18 years to Pay Attention to Your Marriage

happy coupleAs a therapist I am surprised how often I ask couples what they do for fun and they can’t answer me. Seems as though some couples are not having any fun-they don’t have dates, they don’t go away just the two of them, they don’t celebrate birthdays or anniversaries. The number one thing I hear when I ask why this doesn’t happen is that they are too busy with the children.

Children are wonderful. Don’t get me wrong-I love my children and I thoroughly enjoy doing things with them as a family. But it is crucial to do things as a couple without them. Now I have heard all the excuses-we don’t have time, babysitters are expensive, we can’t leave our darlings with other people, we can’t afford dates. If you have ever heard what divorce lawyers cost you will realize that babysitters and for that matter marriage therapists are actually quite reasonable by comparison.

It’s wonderful that we love our children and that we don’t treat them like nothing more than cheap labor as in days gone by. However perhaps the pendulum has swung a little too far. Marriages cannot run on empty year after year for 18+ years while all the attention and energy gets focused on the children. I see what does happen-partners not feeling connected, affairs, emotional affairs, parallel lives and sometimes separation and divorce.

There is nothing that compares to going to dinner with your partner and to not have conversation interrupted by children, phones and devices (turn those off by the way and yes they do turn off). And there is nothing better than going away together-to sleep in, to discover new towns or new experiences, to have adult private time without the worry of a child walking in or past your door 500 times. This chance to be playful and enjoy each other like you did when you were dating should not be optional if you want your marriage to go the distance, it is necessary. Marriage needs constant reenergizing to stay strong and healthy and dates and going away together help to do that. And you can’t go out once every six months-go out weekly or every other week and go away together once or better yet twice a year. Yes it can be done. Parents will spend money on tutors, camps, presents, trips, sports for their children yet not spend a fraction of that investing in their marriage. There is no better enriching experience for children than for them to see their parents happy and loving each other. It is an excellent experience for them to know that their patents have lives, that the world does not revolve around them and ultimately that your marriage does not solely revolve around them.

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