They say that opposites attract; in marriage that can be a good thing. With each spouse bringing different skills and talents to the table, as a couple you can learn from each other and have a rich experience together. For example, a more outgoing wife can help a more introverted husband to get out more, and the more organized husband can help the less organized wife get more things accomplished. And the list goes on. Together, a husband and wife can help each other grow.
While this can be a thing of beauty in a marriage, when it comes to parenting, sometimes being opposites isn’t a good thing. Perhaps he is more stern, and she is more lenient; he is more consistent, she is more flexible. When you bring two different people, with two different childhoods and backgrounds together into co-parenting roles, it can get messy.
How do you handle discipline problems? When your child gets a citation at school, how does each parent want to handle it at home? What about how much time to allow them to spend at friends’ houses, or how much time to allow them to use electronic devices? What about chores, or money or using your cars? Truly, there are many, many things to consider.
Marriage and parenting is not for the faint of heart. According to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, basic incompatibility issues and differences over parenting factor into many couples’ reasons for splitting up. It’s important to not take it lightly.
So how can marriage and parenthood coexist in a more harmonious way? It is possible to do both and do them well.
Here are some tips to balancing marriage and parenting without going crazy:
- Be a team. You got married because you love each other. Maybe you have some differences in parenting styles, but know that you both have the same goal—to raise well adjusted, happy children in a loving home. Share the load as you raise your children, so no one feels like they are doing it alone.
- Agree on your core values. Love. Family. Work. Happiness. Whatever your core values are with regards to parenting, write them down. Keep those in front of you so you always have them to come back to. Hopefully these core values will be a good baseline to help you both cover most of the basic issues with regards to parenting; this can go a long way in helping you achieve balance and harmony in your marriage while you go about parenting.
- Connect with each family member for at least 20 minutes per day. Make sure to spend quality alone time with your spouse and with each child. This time will help each person forge lasting relationships that will keep things balanced in your home.
- Don’t fight in front of the kids. It’s really hard not to disagree on parenting decisions when you’re in the moment with your kids right there, but you need to make it a priority. Maybe your 9-year-old son is very impulsive; it drives dad crazy and he wants to yell and punish him by taking away a privilege, but mom is more patient and thinks a less strict punishment is in order. Instead of talking it out in front of your son, excuse yourselves for a few minutes. Talk it out away from your son. Come to an agreement and then discuss it with your son. This will help you work out your differences and also be a more consistent parenting team to your son.
- Negotiate and give up a little. If you are opposites in your parenting styles, then you both need to give up a little of your personal ideals so you can be on the same page. This will require a bit of negotiation and compromise. For example, if your teenager really wants his own iPhone, and dad says no and mom says yes—perhaps you could both talk it out and figure out a way where you both give up a little. If you can negotiate to say, allow your child to get one if he pays for it himself, then if you are both happy, everyone wins.
- Create a schedule that works for everyone. Get all the important stuff scheduled that keeps everyone happy and balanced. We’re talking bedtimes, mealtimes, family outings, sex—yes, even sex. When you bring kids into a marriage, you have to be more proactive with how you spend your time, so scheduling insures that the most important things come first.
- Teach your children independence. Not only will it help Billy gain confidence as he starts making his own breakfast, cleaning his own room, and even playing on his own, it’ll reduce stress on the parents and give mom and dad more time with each other.
Marriage and parenting can co-exist hand in hand. Try the above tips; if it’s still unmanageable, then get professional counseling to help your specific case.