Right now you may be a 30 or 40 something couple, married with children, trying to balance marriage and family life.
Sometimes, you look longingly at young couples who seem so in love and have no worries.
You still remember what it was like to be so young and in love, and while you still are in love with your spouse, things are different. You have grown up things to worry about, like a house, jobs, and retirement accounts.
Plus, you have kids. You have a family. Your whole life is consumed—in a good way—to raise these little ones in your life. So perhaps it feels as if you are mostly focused on the children, or that you have almost no focus at all. You wonder, how do people do it all?
Even though you are married, maybe you feel as if you “miss” spending time with your spouse. Even though you see each other and even sleep in the same bed, you’re both so distracted and have so many other demands on your time.
You probably hear it all the time that you need to “date” each other and try making time for your spouse, but do you do it? Do you and your spouse get out of the house and do stuff, just the two of you?
If not, make it your number one priority. You two need to connect one on one on a very regular basis to maintain balance in marriage.
You may think it’ll be too expensive, take up too much time away from your kids, or involve too much energy to plan it all. But here is the answer to all of those worries: it will be worth it!
Also, there are ways around all of those issues. If it’s too expensive to get a babysitter, find another couple to do a “trade” babysitting with. Then go on a cheap date, even just a walk or a drive.
You can do it after the kids are in bed to lessen your time away from them, or you can do lunch dates.
At first, it’ll take some planning, but once you are in the habit, it will take much less time and energy to plan. Plus, you’ll see the value in it. You will love dating each other and wonder why you didn’t start sooner!
2. Date with your kids too
It is not just important to go on a date with your spouse but, it is also vital to spend some dedicated quality time with your kids for balancing marriage and family life.
However busy you are, marriage and family life can thrive for a lifetime, only when you make an effort to spend sufficient time with them.
Try spending time with just your kids at least once or twice a week. Also, all your kids might have different temperaments.
So, it is essential that along with together time, you spend some one-on-one time with each of your kids to know them better and improve your bonding with them.
You could indulge in any activity with them like reading books or playing a game or riding a bike together. The motive is to try engaging in the activities that your kids like.
3. Be vigilant about your family calendar
Go to an office supply store and buy the biggest calendar they have. A desk calendar is great because it has big boxes for each date.
Hang it on a prominent place in your house—preferably the kitchen—and gather your family around. Tell them this is for the whole family to keep everyone organized.
Write down soccer games (if you know when all the practices and games are, go ahead and write them all down now), oil changes for each car, PTO meetings, doctor appointments, and date nights.
When you are all organized and on the same page, things will flow better. When you know that soccer is Monday night, you can get dinner in the crockpot earlier in the day instead of scrambling when you should be running out the door.
In turn, that will help everyone be less stressed, which will help in building strong family relationships.
The beautiful thing about plotting everything on the calendar is that you get to prioritize. As a family, you get to decide in advance what the most important things will be, rather than just passively letting things happen. You know that hike your family has wanted to go on?
Now that you have a calendar, you can quit talking about it and write it down for this Saturday, and do it! Being organized equals more family time and more quality family time.
All of this implies healthy family relationships!
4. Try to take essential decisions mutually
When it comes to making important decisions that might directly or indirectly impact the entire family, make it a practice that both you and your spouse make the decision jointly.
Whether it is about making critical decisions for your kids or something for the household, when one of the spouses does not agree with the decision made, it can affect the harmony and spirit of the family.
The spouses should talk it out mutually or even discuss in the presence of the entire family. It is critical to not miss out on the other’s opinions, which are equally important as yours.
So, for building family relationships and fostering transparency and equality, you must make an effort to make important decisions in mutual consonance.
5. Cuddle, touch and be intimate with your spouse
When you date your spouse, you can connect emotionally. So now, make sure you connect physically. Sometimes you are tired and want to lay around together after the kids are in bed. That’s fine.
If you usually just lay next to each other, start switching things up. Cuddle while you watch TV or unwind before sleep.
Physically touching each other helps you to connect in new ways, and it even releases tension and stress. You’re more likely to talk when you are touching, so that’s a further reason to touch.
And it goes without saying that cuddling can sometimes lead to more; who can deny that a great sex life helps make you feel more balanced and happy?
6. Turn off the screens for one hour a night
Family time is really limited when you think about it.
The kids spend hours at school all day, and then they may even have other activities throughout the week. Parents typically work all day and then have the demands of running a household on top of that.
So prime family time on a day to day basis is just dinner time and a short period of time before and after that. Unfortunately, what tends to be in our homes and cut into that time?
Screens. Tablets, smartphones, TVs, video games, etc.
While those are fun and can sometimes be our family time (Friday night movie and popcorn, anyone?), mostly, they are a distraction from the most important people in your life during your very limited family time.
So, if you genuinely wish to plan on how to have a successful marriage and family life, every night, preferably around dinnertime, mandate a one-hour screen-free time.
It’s only one hour, and in that hour you’ll be amazed and how much quality time you can get in. Because when you are free from distractions, you can all think of stuff to do together.
Perhaps a family bike ride, or just board games. You could even read a chapter of a classic book. Whatever your family wants to do! Even just sitting and talking can prove to be beneficial in balancing marriage and family life.
7. Plan a vacation
Wondering how to keep a family together?
Plan a vacation!
Going on a family vacation effectively helps in balancing a relationship and child, and is also one of the best ways for balancing parents and spouse.
You must make a deliberate effort to take some time off from the routine humdrum. Going on a vacation is one effective way of maintaining family relationships and strengthening relationships with family members.
Marriage and family can be balanced perfectly if you break free from the routine and enjoy some dedicated time with each other. And, what can be better than a great location where there is no work, no mundane activities, and only a great vibe to revive you and your family.
8. Do household activities together
If you are someone who is strongly convinced that you are too busy to spend dedicated time with your spouse and your kids or to go on a vacation, try doing the household activities together.
This way, you can make the boring activities super fun so that each one of you would wait for this time and look up to engaging in these activities together.
For example, the entire family can engage in cooking. Each one of you can take up a designated task and cook your meal together.
Similarly, you can even do the job of tidying up together. Just play some music, pick up your dust mops, and this supremely annoying job can get transformed into an exciting family affair.
9. Do not compromise family time for work
Office work could be your priority, especially if you are the bread winner of the family. It is completely normal to get bogged down with work at times and bring your office work to home.
But, you must realize that as work is a part of your life, your relationship with family is also an important part of your life. So, make an effort to not get into a habit of bringing work home.
Do not compromise with your family time for anything in the world. Although money is a crucial resource for buying the necessities of your life, money can’t buy you the happiness that you can get by balancing marriage and family life.
10. Be flexible
You can’t expect to be rigid and follow a fixed schedule for balancing marriage and family life. Abiding by the work as well as the family calendar is completely alright, but at the same time, you ought to be flexible mentally.
It is okay to practice discipline in the house and stick to a routine. But, it must not be a golden rule that can’t be broken.
There can be times when your kids are in a mood to go out for a movie or a baseball game. Your spouse might not be in a mood to cook at all or might be wanting to go shopping.
It is okay to be flexible at such times for the happiness of your spouse and kids. It is okay to break the rules that do not harm. On the contrary, some sweet surprises are always favorable for balancing marriage and family life.
It’s the little day to day moments that build your family and your marriage, and they are fleeting. Hold onto the moments you can get now.
Date your spouse regularly and cuddle, and do not forget your kids too. Get organized with a family calendar and mandate the no screen hour. If you follow these tips, balancing marriage and family life can be a cakewalk for you.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.